ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA
A SHOWTIME LIMITED SERIES
A Letter from the Executive Producers
We’re excited to share with you these advance episodes of our limited series ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA. The series is based on the infamous real-life 2015 prison break at the Clinton Correctional Facility which spawned a massive manhunt and media frenzy.
It was mostly shot on location in Dannemora, New York. Much of our desire to create this series has been to tell a true story in as real a way as possible. Our hope is that we can capture the many different aspects of the story that contributed to the breakout. We interviewed and consulted with many correctional officers, community members, current and former prisoners and witnesses connected to this extraordinary crime and subsequent investigation. Filming in the North Country, having a year or so before production began to spend time there and, of course, the cooperation of Clinton Correctional itself contributed immeasurably to portraying that complicated reality. The series is not just about a prison break but the psychological backdrop and sexual manipulation that enabled the successful escape of two convicted murderers from a maximum-security prison.
We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we did making it. And ONE REQUEST: in your coverage, please do not reveal the plot twist in episode 6 for reasons that will be obvious when you watch. We would like to keep this a surprise for the viewers when they watch it. We appreciate your sensitivity to the creative ambitions of the show.
And Best Wishes.
Ben Stiller, Brett Johnson, Michael Tolkin, Mike De Luca, Bryan Zuriff, Nicky Weinstock & Bill Carraro
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA Series Overview
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA is a limited-event series based on 2015’s stranger-than-fiction prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility. The two escapees, both convicted murderers, were aided by a married female prison employee who reportedly carried on affairs with both men while supervising them in the tailor shop. It spawned the largest manhunt in the history of New York State.
Benicio Del Toro plays convicted murderer Richard Matt, an anomalous yet powerful force within the prison who masterminds the escape. In prison, he was a self-taught celebrity portraitist, creating incredible oil-on-canvas paintings of Julia Roberts, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Paul Dano plays his co-conspirator, David Sweat. The two met in prison when they were housed on the same block.
Patricia Arquette plays Joyce “Tilly" Mitchell, a working-class wife and mother who works as an inmate supervisor in the prison tailor shop. After becoming sexually involved with both men, she assists them in their escape, hiding hacksaw blades in frozen hamburger meat and agreeing to be their getaway driver, even as the plan allegedly grew to include the murder of her husband, Lyle (Eric Lange). That part of the scheme was never carried out, and prosecutors never charged Tilly, Matt, or Sweat with conspiracy to murder Lyle.
Known locally as “Dannemora” for the upstate town it dominates, Clinton Correctional is New York's third-oldest prison and its largest maximum-security facility. On June 5, 2015, after receiving assistance from Tilly and corrections officer Gene Palmer (David Morse), Sweat and Matt became the first escapees from Clinton’s main unit in its 170-year history. The two men evaded a statewide manhunt for 23 days, traversing the Adirondack forests until Matt was shot and killed 18 miles from Dannemora in a confrontation with the tactical unit of the US Border Patrol. Two days later, Sweat was shot and apprehended 16 miles north, only a few hundred yards from the Canadian border.
Tilly is currently serving a three-to-seven year sentence at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County on charges of promoting prison contraband, a felony, and criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor. Sweat continues to serve a life sentence at Wende Correctional Facility. On June 6, 2016, a year after the escape, a report from the Inspector General of the State of New York (Bonnie Hunt) identified a number of uniformed and civilian employees who enabled the escape, citing “systemic failures by management and oversight by DOCCS” in some fashion and concluded it was caused by a “culture of carelessness.” However, only two employees had charges filed against them – Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer.
Produced by SHOWTIME®, ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA is directed and executive produced by Emmy® winner Ben Stiller. The series is written and executive produced by Brett Johnson (Mad Men) and Oscar® nominee Michael Tolkin (The Player), who met while working as writers on Ray Donovan. In addition to Stiller, Johnson and Tolkin, three-time Academy Award® nominee Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Fifty Shades of Grey) via Michael De Luca Productions, Bryan Zuriff (Steve Jobs, Ray Donovan), Nicky Weinstock for Red Hour Productions and Bill Carraro (Blade Runner 2049, Terminator Genisys) serve as executive producers.
"Richard Matt" - Benicio Del Toro
BENICIO DEL TORO has earned critical accolades throughout his career, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, as well as an Oscar nomination for his work in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams. Del Toro re-teamed with Soderbergh to star in Che, winning the 2008 Best Actor award at Cannes and Best Lead Actor at the Goya Awards in Madrid.
Earlier this year, Del Toro starred in Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the follow-up to Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination. He appeared in Avengers: Infinity War, reprising his role from James Gunn’s 2014 action film Guardians of The Galaxy, and he appeared in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Del Toro’s previous work includes Fernando León de Aranoa’s A Perfect Day, Andrea Di Stefano’s Escobar: Paradise Lost, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P, Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, Oliver Stone’s Savages, the film adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel Sin City, directed by Robert Rodriguez, Peter Weir’s Fearless, George Huang’s Swimming with Sharks, Mark Osborne’s animated drama The Little Prince, Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral, Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner and The Pledge, Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun, William Friedkin’s The Hunted, Susanne Bier’s Things We Lost in the Fire and Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Del Toro made his motion picture debut in John Glen’s License to Kill. His performance in Traffic also garnered a Golden Globe®, a Screen Actors Guild Award®, a BAFTA Award, the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, as well as citations from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics and the Chicago Film Critics Association. His work in 21 Grams also earned Del Toro the Audience Award for Best Actor at the 2003 Venice International Film Festival. He earned Independent Spirit Awards for his performances in Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects, in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat and for Best Ensemble in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.
Born in Puerto Rico, Del Toro grew up in Pennsylvania. He attended the University of California at San Diego, where he appeared in numerous student productions, one of which led to his performance at a drama festival at the Lafayette Theater in New York. Del Toro studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory under the tutelage of Arthur Mendoza.
"Tilly Mitchell" - Patricia Arquette
Academy Award winner PATRICIA ARQUETTE starred in Boyhood, the critically acclaimed 12-year project from Richard Linklater, for which she won the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG®, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics and Independent Spirit Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.
Arquette will star in Otherhood, opposite Angela Bassett and Felicity Huffman. Her previous credits include a series regular role on the CBS spinoff CSI: Cyber and a recurring arc on Boardwalk Empire, opposite Steve Buscemi. She starred as Allison Dubois on Medium, receiving an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and subsequent Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations. Among her television movie credits is Wildflower, directed by Diane Keaton, for which Arquette earned a CableACE Award for Best Actress.
Arquette’s film credits include Sean Penn’s The Indian Runner, John Madden’s Ethan Frome, Tony Scott’s True Romance, Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, John Boorman’s Beyond Rangoon, David O. Russell’s Flirting with Disaster, David Lynch’s Lost Highway, Roland Joffé’s Goodbye Lover, Stephen Frears’ The Hi-Lo Country, Rupert Wainwright’s Stigmata, Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, Michel Gondry’s Human Nature, Little Nicky, The Badge and Holes.
The granddaughter of comedian Cliff Arquette, Arquette comes from a family ensconced in the entertainment industry. Her father was actor Lewis Arquette and her siblings – Rosanna, Richmond and David Arquette – are all actors, as was Alexis.
After visiting Haiti and seeing the destruction caused by the devastating earthquake, Arquette started GiveLove to help provide sustainable sanitation solutions in the disaster’s aftermath. GiveLove’s work now extends to pilot programs with local organizations in Nicaragua, India and Uganda. For further information on GiveLove, please visit givelove.org. Known for her outspoken position on women’s rights, Arquette has become a sought-after guest speaker on the subject of gender equality. Born in Chicago, Arquette currently resides in Los Angeles.
"David Sweat" - Paul Dano
PAUL DANO’s directorial debut, Wildlife, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and opened the 2018 Cannes Film Festival’s Critics’ Week to rave reviews. He also produced the film and wrote the screenplay (with Zoe Kazan), adapted from Richard Ford’s American classic. Wildlife stars Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, and centers on the story of a teenage boy who witnesses the decay of his parents’ marriage after their move to Montana.
Dano will star in the upcoming Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s True West, directed by James Macdonald, alongside Ethan Hawke. He starred in the critically acclaimed Joon-ho Bong film Okja.
In 2015, Dano won the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actor and received Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson in the film Love & Mercy. He also starred in Youth, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), which was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Dano appeared in Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed and Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe winning 12 Years a Slave; starred in Prisoners, directed by Denis Villeneuve; starred in Looper, directed by Rian Johnson; starred in and executive produced Ruby Sparks, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and written by Zoe Kazan; starred in Being Flynn, directed by Paul Weitz; starred in Meek’s Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt; and voiced Alexander in Spike Jonze’s critically acclaimed and Golden Globe nominated Where the Wild Things Are.
In 2007, Dano was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA Award for his portrayal of identical twin brothers in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Academy Award nominated There Will Be Blood. He won a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Actor for his portrayal of Dwayne in the Academy Award nominated Little Miss Sunshine, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.
Dano starred in the miniseries War & Peace, directed by Tom Harper, and starred in The Ballad of Jack & Rose, directed by Rebecca Miller. Other film credits include Swiss Army Man, For Ellen, Knight and Day, The Extra Man, The Good Heart, Gigantic, Cowboys & Aliens, Taking Woodstock, The Girl Next Door, Fast Food Nation, The King and Taking Lives. In 2007, Dano starred in Ethan Hawke’s off-Broadway directorial debut, Things We Want.
Dano’s first major film appearance was at 17 in the crime drama L.I.E., for which he won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance and a Directors’ Week Award for Best Actor.
"Lyle Mitchell" - Eric Lange
ERIC LANGE was a regular on seasons two and three of Narcos. He stars in Waco, was the lead villain in season one of The Bridge and had recurring arcs on Weeds and Lost.
Lange appears in Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River, with Jeremy Renner; Dan Fogelman’s Imagine, with Al Pacino, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Plummer; Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, with Jake Gyllenhaal; alongside Al Pacino, Susan Sarandon and John Goodman in You Don’t Know Jack and starred in Secretariat.
Lange starred alongside Blythe Danner and Daniel Sunjata in The Country House, written by Donald Margulies, at both the Geffen Playhouse in L.A. and the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theater on Broadway. He also starred in Driving Miss Daisy (Ovation Award nomination) and A Streetcar Named Desire, both at the Rubicon Theatre, Ugly’s First World with the Actors’ Gang, The Normal Heart at the Hudson Backstage Theatre and Asylum at the Court Theatre.
"Catherine Scott" - Bonnie Hunt
BONNIE HUNT is an actress, voice artist, comedian, writer and producer who created the TV series The Building, Bonnie and Life with Bonnie.
Hunt made her film debut in Rain Man and had her first starring role in Beethoven, followed by a cameo in Dave. Following her first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, she created The Building, which Letterman produced. Hunt made history as the first woman to write, produce and star in her own series. She also produced and starred in Life with Bonnie, netting her consecutive Best Actress Golden Globe nominations.
Hunt wrote and directed Return to Me and starred in Cheaper by the Dozen, Jerry McGuire, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Stolen Summer, Let Go, Return to Me, The Green Mile and Loggerheads. She voiced Sally in Cars and Cars 2, Dolly in Toy Story 3 and characters in A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Monsters University and Zootopia. Hunt is an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
"Gene Palmer" - David Morse
DAVID MORSE is a prolific stage and screen actor and two-time Emmy Award nominee, who was most recently seen on Broadway in the iconic role of Larry Slade in the revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, opposite Denzel Washington. For his performance, Morse received 2018 Outer Critics’ Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and Tony® nominations. He recently completed a multi-episode guest arc on Blindspot.
Director/Executive Producer - Ben Stiller
BEN STILLER is one of Hollywood’s most successful and acclaimed multi-hyphenates. As an actor, director, writer and producer, his global box office stands at nearly $3 billion, making him one of the highest-grossing and most versatile stars of all time, effortlessly moving between major franchises such as Meet the Parents and Night at the Museum, the animated Madagascar films, critically acclaimed art-house hits The Royal Tenenbaums and Flirting with Disaster, his legendary sketch television series The Ben Stiller Show and the Oscar nominated Tropic Thunder, which he starred in, directed, co-wrote and produced.
In 2017, Stiller starred in Mike White’s Brad’s Status and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), his third collaboration with Baumbach following While We’re Young and Greenberg, for which Stiller received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead.
Stiller’s work as a director includes the acclaimed hit comedy Tropic Thunder, which won the Broadcast Film Critics Award for Best Comedy and the Hollywood Film Festival Award for Comedy of the Year, in addition to Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA nominations for Robert Downey Jr.’s inspired performance. His other feature directorial credits include the cult comedy Zoolander, in which he also starred, the iconic indie Reality Bites, dark comedy The Cable Guy and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which was named one of the Top 10 Films of 2013 by the National Board of Review.
Tropic Thunder, the Zoolander films, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA were produced by Stiller at Red Hour, the production company he launched and operates alongside Nicky Weinstock. As a vanguard in the industry, Stiller founded Red Hour in 2001 as an incubator for emerging writers and filmmakers, with an emphasis on embracing new platforms. His recent Red Hour credits include the Netflix film Alex Strangelove, the Emmy nominated digital series Burning Love, Why Him?, The Polka King, The Birthday Boys, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, Another Period, the BAFTA nominated Submarine and worldwide box office hits Blades of Glory, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Starsky & Hutch. Upcoming Red Hour projects include films The Package, Plus One and Friendsgiving, as well as the CW series In the Dark.
Stiller’s breakthrough came with the early ’90s sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show, which he directed, produced, starred in and wrote, winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program. His successful acting career includes the aforementioned movie franchises, as well as modern classics like Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, David O. Russell’s Flirting with Disaster, The Farrelly Brothers’ There’s Something About Mary and Neil LaBute’s Your Friends & Neighbors, as well as Tower Heist, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Permanent Midnight and Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.
Stiller’s television appearances include multi-episode stints on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development, the late Garry Shandling’s The Larry Sanders Show, and Ricky Gervais’ Extras, for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
Stiller made his Broadway debut in 1986 in Lincoln Center Theater’s production of John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves. He also starred in the 2011 Broadway revival of the play.
Inspired by a 2009 visit to Haiti, Stiller founded The Stiller Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funds, resources and support in the rebuilding of schools and educational programs. He’s also been involved with and supported countless charities and foundations, including Project ALS and Artists for Peace and Justice and has partnered with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to serve as a Goodwill Ambassador and meet with and learn from refugees around the world.
Stiller was recognized in 2010 by TIME magazine as one of the TIME 100, a list of the world’s most influential people.
Executive Producer - Brett Johnson
BRETT JOHNSON previously served as co-executive producer for Good Behavior and as producer for Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. He began his career on Mad Men, where he served as the head of research and then a writer for two seasons, winning a Writers Guild of America Award for both.
Executive Producer - Michael Tolkin
MICHAEL TOLKIN is an accomplished novelist and filmmaker. He previously served as a consulting producer for the SHOWTIME drama Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. Tolkin began his career writing the screenplay for The Player, which he adapted from his novel of the same name. The Player received many accolades, including the Writers Guild Award, the British Academy Award and The Edgar Award for best crime screenplay. His other films include musical drama Nine, starring Penélope Cruz and Daniel Day-Lewis, the drama thriller Changing Lanes, starring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, as well as Deep Impact, starring Robert Duvall.
Executive Producer - Michael De Luca
MICHAEL DE LUCA is a prolific producer with three decades in the film business. He’s been nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture and three times for a Producers Guild of America Award (for David Fincher’s The Social Network, Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, and Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips). In 2015, De Luca produced the incredibly successful film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey for Universal Pictures, where he currently has a production deal. De Luca and his Michael De Luca Productions banner followed it up with Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. His upcoming projects include the feature film version of the popular sci-fi franchise Battlestar Galactica, an adaptation of DC Comics’ The Kitchen, Under the Silver Lake, from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell, The Sisters Brothers, from director Jacques Audiard, and an eclectic slate of television, cable and streaming projects, including a remake of Shogun.
Executive Producer - Bryan Zuriff
BRYAN ZURIFF currently serves as an executive producer on Ray Donovan. He executive produced the 2015 film Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin and based on Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography. Zuriff also executive produced War Dogs, based on Guy Lawson’s Rolling Stone article, starring Jonah Hill and directed by Todd Phillips.
A former talent manager and Executive VP of Marketing at Content Partners, Zuriff has diverse industry knowledge and experience. He executive produced Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, which garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, as well as numerous other accolades.
Zuriff produced Jacob Estes’ The Details, starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney and Ray Liotta. The film’s distribution rights were purchased at the Sundance Film Festival for $9.2 million, making it one of the festival’s most successful films.
Executive Producer - Nicholas Weinstock
NICHOLAS WEINSTOCK began his career as a journalist and teacher in South Africa, returning to New York to work as an editor at Spy magazine and Random House. He then became a full-time writer, penning The Secret Love of Sons, As Long as She Needs Me and The Golden Hour, as well as writing for The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, National Public Radio, Vogue and Poets & Writers.
In 2000, Weinstock became Director of Corporate Communications at News Corp. and then VP of Comedy Development at 20th Century Fox Television. He left to run Apatow Productions for Judd Apatow, overseeing the development of movies including Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, Get Him to the Greek and Bridesmaids. After leaving to help Peter Chernin launch Chernin Entertainment, Weinstock founded Invention Studios.
In 2015, Invention Studios merged with Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Films. Weinstock now runs Red Hour, producing the series In the Dark, Alex Strangelove and The Package, as well as over a dozen films, series, documentaries and other projects.
Executive Producer - Bill Carraro
BILL CARRARO is an award-winning producer who executive produced Terminator Genisys and the critically acclaimed Blade Runner 2049, which was nominated for five Academy Awards and won two.
Carraro began his career in locations and unit management, becoming assistant to producer Aaron Russo on Wise Guys, then associate producer on Rude Awakening and executive producer on Missing Pieces. His other producing credits include The Adjustment Bureau, The Golden Compass, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Frequency (also second unit director), The Best Man, Robocop, The Wolfman, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, The Sentinel, Undercover Brother, Tower Heist (also second unit director), Stay, Willard, The Corruptor, Woo (also second unit director), American History X, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (also second unit director), Treacherous, Jason’s Lyric and The Walking Dead.
Director of Photography - Jessica Lee Gagné
A native of Quebec and only 30 years old, JESSICA LEE GAGNÉ is an experienced cinematographer with many credits under her belt. Her feature film credits include Sweet Virginia, Daddy, Pays and a variety of foreign films including Boris Sans Béatrice and Malgré La Nuit. Gagné has also served as director of photography on an array of music videos and commercials. ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA marks her first American television series. Gagné is a graduate of Concordia University, where she earned her degree in cinematography and film production.
Production Designer - Mark Ricker
MARK RICKER was nominated for an Art Directors Guild Award for his work on the Oscar-nominated films Trumbo, The Help and Julie & Julia, and an Emmy for his work on You Don’t Know Jack.
Ricker’s production design can be seen in Snatched, Keeping Up with the Joneses, The Judge, Get On Up, The Way, Way Back, Conviction, The Nanny Diaries, The Hoax, The Accidental Husband, Fierce People, Lisa Picard Is Famous, Prime, The Ballad of Jack & Rose, Sunshine State, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Julie Johnson, All the Way and Fever.
As an art director and set designer, he contributed to the designs of The Shipping News, Far From Heaven, Kate & Leopold, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Out-of-Towners and The Substance of Fire. He began his career in the prop and set decorating departments of Passion Fish, The Last of the Mohicans, Once Around and The Handmaid’s Tale.
Dannemora Inside Information
Located 70 miles south of Montreal in the upstate New York town of Dannemora, Clinton Correctional Facility houses approximately 3,000 male inmates. The prison was nicknamed “Little Siberia” due to its harsh winters and isolated location.
The prison’s most unique feature is “the courts,” an outdoor recreation yard with hundreds of small fenced-in areas “owned” by groups of inmates. Courts may contain a garden, an assortment of furniture and a wood-burning stove or grill. During rec time, groups of prisoners congregate in their courts to socialize, cook, play cards, eat and grow vegetables.
Matt was a skilled artist who frequently traded his paintings to the guards in exchange for favors.
At Matt’s request, on February 16, 2015, Tilly Mitchell delivered the first hacksaw blades to him.
Using the blades, it took Matt and Sweat four weeks to cut holes into the backs of their cell walls. Sweat then worked almost nightly to find a way out, hammering through two brick walls before eventually finding the outer wall of the prison. It was seven feet of reinforced concrete and Sweat was working with limited tools. Their prospects of escape looked bleak.
On May 5, 2015, Matt and Sweat had a stroke of luck when the steam pipe passing through the outer wall was shut off for the summer. Using the hacksaw blades from Mitchell, it took Sweat four weeks to cut his way into and out of the steam pipe.
The night of the escape, Matt left two notes: one, on a painting of Tony Soprano, read “Time To Go Kid 6-5-15”; the other, written on notebook paper, read “You left me no choice but to grow old and die in here. I had to do something.”
Next to the hole in the steam pipe they escaped through, Sweat left a piece of paper with a smiley face drawn on it and “Have a Nice Day” written underneath.
More than 1,300 officers from local, state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies were involved in the manhunt for Sweat and Matt.
The escape cost New York State approximately $23 million in law enforcement overtime and more than $570,000 in prison repairs and additional security measures.
After the June 2015 prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY, Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell is questioned about her involvement with the two men. Months earlier, Tilly enjoys her job at the prison tailor shop, balancing the temptations of David Sweat, a younger inmate, and her obligations to her husband, Lyle. Richard Matt, an inmate with an artistic talent, supplies oil paintings to guards in exchange for special treatment. Ultimately, his attentions turn to Tilly.
Matt has an idea to get out of Dannemora, but Sweat is not interested in taking the risk. Matt begins to help Tilly with an inmate she doesn’t get along with in the shop, while Sweat comes to miss the freedoms that come with Matt’s protection.
Matt and Sweat run into walls and other obstacles as they search for a way out, but the power of positive thinking helps to keep them on track. Tilly begins to feel guilty about her mounting indiscretions, but she has a funny way of showing it.
Excited by the possibility of a new life, Tilly tries her best to avoid Lyle, who is planning something special for their anniversary. Sweat makes progress on the escape route, but feels like he’s doing all the work. Matt likes the arrangement just fine.
On the day of the escape, Matt and Sweat know the smallest mistake can derail their whole plan, but when a stern corrections officer takes over the post in the tailor shop and fellow inmate Murder gets out of the Special Housing Unit, Matt seems attracted to the danger. Tilly and Lyle have a fateful dinner at an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant.
A deep dive into the minds of these individuals, we finally see what Matt and Sweat are capable of outside the prison walls. Tilly’s natural instincts aren’t much better.
Matt and Sweat run for their lives as the tension between them is pushed to the extreme. Tilly gets out of the hospital and does her best to evade the authorities. But as the law closes in, all three are confronted with hard truths about who they really are.
Escape at Dannemora Credits & Contacts
Richard Matt Benicio Del Toro
Tilly Mitchell Patricia Arquette
David Sweat Paul Dano
Catherine Scott Bonnie Hunt
Lyle Mitchell Eric Lange
Gene Palmer David Morse
Governor Andrew Cuomo - Michael Imperioli
Director & Executive Producer Ben Stiller
Michael De Luca
Producer / UPM
Lisa M. Rowe
Director Of Photography
Jessica Lee Gagné
Make-Up Department Head
Hair Department Head
Suzy Mazzarese Allison