Now showing: Sherwood director's 'Maysville' on Amazon Prime
Sherwood's Leslie Goyette said every time a door seemed like it had shut, another opened in her quest to make her recently released movie, "Maysville."
Set in 1929 Kentucky, the coming-of-age story is now showing on Amazon Prime Video. It revolves around the life of Teddy Rogers, a character brought to life by two leading actors that include Goyette's son Holden as the younger Teddy and Kevin R. James as the older Teddy.
"I have been a closet writer my whole life," said Goyette, a 20-year resident of Sherwood. "And I've always been a little afraid to show people my writing because I feel like showing someone something that you write, it's like letting them see you in your underwear."
The movie was filmed in Centralia, Washington, in summer 2019 — fulfilling a lifelong dream of Goyette, who attended the University of Oregon to study telecommunications and film. When Oregon cut its film program, Goyette studied something she knew and loved: theater.
Her own children, Harrison and Holden, eventually became involved in theater productions as well.
"Then it really kind of took off. They worked for DreamWorks, the Hallmark Channel, NBC and Syfy channel," said Goyette.
Harrison did an episode of the popular television series "Grimm." Holden, now 16 and a Sherwood High School junior, did work for The Hallmark Channel and DreamWorks and was a regular on "Z Nation."
For the film, Goyette reached out to Michele Englehart, someone she met while her son was doing a project for DreamWorks. Englehart is the film's producer, and her son, Forrest Campbell, plays Teddy's best friend in the film."Both of our children are actors as well. … I thought her son would be perfect to play opposite of my son," said Goyette.
When Goyette showed Englehart her script, she told her to go easy on her but to give her an honest opinion about it.
"She read it, and after the first 15 pages, she was crying and she said, 'This has to be made,'" recalled Goyette.
That script rewriting process took about six months and included nearly three dozen revisions. It is Goyette's dramatic story of grief, tragedy and love in a time, states the movie teaser, "where people play by their own rules, seek revenge and feel justified by their actions."
Maysville is a real city in Kentucky, and Goyette grew up in a portion of Kentucky so remote that her mother used to say, "We lived so deep in the woods that we had to pipe in sunshine."
Goyette said to get funding for her film, a short video was placed on Indiegogo — sort of like Kickstarter for those with creative ideas — and a fundraising campaign was undertaken as well, which raised a significant amount of money. She and her supporters also found a fiscal sponsorship.
From the very beginning, Goyette got help from a friend of hers, Pamela Whitchurch, a resident of Sherwood for the last 15 years. While Whitchurch is a veteran of numerous local performances, this was her first time serving as a costumer for a movie.
"She went through and really, really took this on just like a film costumer would do," Goyette said about Whitchurch. "Many years of theater would prepare her for this, but she soared."
Whitchurch also had the job of helping find everything the crew might need to portray a small Kentucky town in 1929. When she needed gallon-sized cans to display in the general store, she found a Mexican restaurant in Newberg whose manager was more than happy to supply the needed props. The manager washed out 150 of them, and time-period-correct labels were then added to them and placed on the general store's shelves.
"It was interesting to me that I had other filmmakers come into what I called my 'costume cave' and go, 'Wow, this is really beautifully organized and arranged,' and I'm like, 'You mean not everybody does it like this?'" said Whitchurch.
Goyette said filming in Centralia is where the magic happened. Holding an informational dinner in that city of almost 20,000 residents, the event attracted 200 attendees with an understanding that they would be extras in the film.
"We said, 'We need a steam engine. We need a barn to burn down. We need housing. We need all of these things,'" she said.
After dinner, people lined up to let them know where they could find almost everything Goyette requested.
"I had two barns volunteered to be burned down," she said.
When Goyette didn't have the $1,700 needed to rent a rain machine, the fire chief volunteered to make it rain for her.
She said everyone in that small city cooperated, from the city's famed Lewis and Clark Hotel to the Centralia City Council, which allowed Goyette and her crew to use historical buildings while waiving permitting fees to do so.
Goyette and her crew were even lucky enough to find a 1929 Fordson tractor to use in the movie, compliments of the King Agriculture Museum, which happens to be in Centralia as well. The tractor had already been restored to pristine condition.
All of the requests Goyette and Whitchurch put out were granted, they said, by "the power of the ask."
Goyette said "Maysville" is playing well, trending among the top 150 to 200 movies being watched throughout the United States the first two weeks after it was released.
"I hope to do another film," said Goyette. "I would love to get investors. I have over five different completely different scripts, ranging from comedies to thrillers — just about everything."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.