There was no red carpet or paparazzi, but the premiere of “Maysville” at Midway Cinema in Chehalis attracted numerous community members and served as a joyful reunion for the filmmakers and residents who worked on the production when it was filmed in Lewis County in 2019.
Set in the 1920s, “Maysville” tells the story of Teddy Rogers, a boy living in the Appalachian Mountains. After a series of tragedies force him to grow up fast and fend for himself, Teddy escapes rural life and heads to the thriving town of Maysville, Kentucky. Teddy, now going by Theodore, befriends several community members in Maysville. Everything looks bright until he’s forced to confront certain people and incidents from his past.
Director, writer, producer, editor Leslie Goyette gave a heartfelt speech before the screening, thanking the community for their help in making the filming process as seamless as possible. Among the numerous residents who assisted with the production were Tiffany Etherton, “Maysville’s” Art Director who built the amazing sets starting from nothing and transformed the brick Centralia streets into streets from the 1920s (and appears in the film as the antagonist’s wife), Mary Kurtzbein, who connected the crew to Lewis County and worked long hours as the Set Decorator, Jessica Kersey, who also worked as a Set Decorator, Dave Freeman of the Tower Tavern who provided meals and shot behind-the-scenes photos for the cast and crew, and Jeremy Wildhaber of Jeremy’s Farm to Table who helped find locations, fed the cast and crew, acted as a “fixer” for last-minute problems during filming, and acted in the film as the court clerk.
“The community rallied around us, and they supported us, including the city council,” says Leslie. “The residents, you fed us. You found our locations. I can’t think of any other filmmaking experience like this one. I’ve been doing this in the industry for 20 years, and there’s not another filmmaker I know who tells this story that a community made a movie.”
Audience reactions from the full theater were visible whenever a familiar image appeared onscreen, whether it was exterior shots of Lewis County landmarks such as the Borst Home, the Lewis County Courthouse, Gathering Grace Farm, or a local automobile that has been featured at classic car shows. A pivotal scene early in the film features a tractor loaned out from King Agriculture Museum.
“David King and I had a wonderful moment together because when you walk through the museum, you are just blown away at his collection,” Leslie recalls. “We went to the back where he has things that are future projects that he’s working on, and he has some rough-looking pieces that need to be restored. I asked him, ‘where in the world did you find that old setter? And he said, ‘what?’ He didn’t recognize one of the pieces of equipment he had gotten, but I knew because I was raised on a tobacco farm. And I’m like, ‘that’s a tobacco setter.’”
After the screening, Leslie conducted a Q&A session alongside Portland-based actor Brian Sutherland, who plays Buck Stamper, the antagonist of “Maysville.” Among other things, they discussed the multiple instances of coincidences while filming in Lewis County.
“We went before city council to make a plea if they would waive the fees to film on the streets,” Leslie recalls. “One of the council members said, ‘why are you calling it Maysville?’ and I responded with ‘well, I’m from Kentucky, and it’s a town in Kentucky,’ and he said, ‘I know, my dad lives there.’ After that, when we showed up at our fundraising dinner at Centralia College, the security guard’s name was Buck, the same name as one of the characters in the film.”
Brian recalls another coincidence while preparing for his role. “In creating the character of Buck, I had to come up with some of his heroes,” he says. “Bad guys have heroes, and they usually come from a childhood that is based on abuse, sadly. So, I created a whole world where during that time, Babe Ruth was Buck’s hero when he was a kid hearing his parents arguing. It was just something completely random — not in the script at all. But when the crew created the grocery store outside, they had a tiny sticker of Babe Ruth. I had no idea, and I showed up on set to do the egg scene or whatnot. I saw that picture and broke down crying because you guys randomly had no idea that I created Babe Ruth as a hero, and you included that little sticker.”
Although “Maysville” has been completed and is currently available on prominent streaming services, for Leslie and her producing partner Michele Englehart, it is, as they say, just the beginning.
“Regarding future projects, I think we need to see if we get to make money off this project to fund the next project, and that’s going to take a while to find out, probably six months,” says Michele. “It’s an interesting time because you can show the movie in the theater and at the same time on streaming platforms, and you’ll have overlapping audiences. It’s something that we can use to gauge interest. There’s some interest in showing the film in Kentucky, which is appropriate. I can see “Maysville” having recurring screenings, playing in smaller theaters and historic theaters around the Pacific Northwest.”