Paula Blair speaks to writer and director Leslie Goyette and producer Michele Englehart about their film Maysville (2021). In our conversation you’ll learn about their 3-year journey from script to finished film, their experience with crowdfunding and the kindness of communities, and the sheer tenacity it takes to achieve a goal you really believe in. This is an enjoyable and illuminating conversation which I hope you’ll get something out of and share.
Music: commonGround by airtone (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
Edited by Paula Blair with Audacity.
Recorded with Zoom on 4 May 2022. Access Behind the Scenes recordings on Patreon.
Maysville website: https://maysville.wixsite.com/maysvillethemovie
Leslie and Paula connected via https://www.matchmaker.fm/
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though you’re very welcome to you RT of facial cultures the podcast that explores different areas of film the arts and media I’m Paul up there and in this episode I talk to the writer and director let’s see cognacs and producer Michelle Engelhard’s abate their film maze filled which is available on various streaming sites as well as on DVD and Blu ray and the U. S. you’ll find useful links in the show notes and everything else you’ll need audio visual cultures dot com a big thank you to our patrons at Petri on dot com forward slash AP cultures his generosity is funding our websites and thanks as well to you heather pony read he replied on Instagram and I posted about yes more computer bows as it seems we have the same laptop and heather says I recently discovered your podcast and it’s great I’m really glad you’re enjoying it has their hands thank you and everyone else for investing in for engaging with us wherever you do that so in today’s discussion we skirted around Paul details for the film may you spell but I think that it’s fine for me to say that it is a tragic family ands coming of age periods drama set in depression era of the ship if you’re not aware of it it’s a real might necessary it in the United States Leslie and Michelle take history quite a lot of the production details including importantly their experience with crowdfunding and simply asking for things that you told people what they needed and they made a film that looks a lot more expensive than a speaker because of the kindness of the community stay were working with and I think that’s really pertinent for me because I was living in Newcastle upon Tyne has taught me shy bairns get nights you know if you don’t ask you don’t get let’s see Michelle really show you why it’s important to just go for it to just tell people like this is what we needs today that S. what do you think what can you do with a mention some difficult topics around death poverty and abusive behavior but there’s also a lot of joy and hope the restore some faith in humanity and both the story of may spell on the Siri if making maze spell they may face so it really hope you enjoy this one it was it was just a really great conversation and it was a real joy to meet lastly and Michelle as well they’re they’re welcome back anytime so hope you get a lottery if it nine I know I certainly did let’s see go yes and Michelle Banco hearts thank you so much for joining me on audio visual cultures we’re going to discuss your independent film maze spell that’s just so exciting but this first of all if it’s okay could I ask each of you C. NG sure selves to bet on C. six billion the roles each if you had in the film if we start with Leslie is out all right now I’m amazed to Michelle my name’s Leslie yeah I was the writer and one of the producers and the director for the town I am amazing partner Michelle yes my name is Michelle it’ll hurt I am %HESITATION producer and maze spell Celeste Lee and I teamed up to get the film made I know that getting the film made a toll was a huge achievement for both fifty and so we’ll try and learn a bit of bite that at any moment spent where did the story come from and why did you decide to tell it on film will talk but the story itself in a bad spot %HESITATION I just wondered what were the origins of the story first of all well the origins of the story it’s a coming of age story set in the nineteen twenties and that part of the United States called Appalachia Appalachia is a remote part of the United States it’s a very mountainous area it’s part of where I grew up so that part of the country it’s that poverty stricken area and I kind of wanted to tell a story about things that I had seen and things that I had witnessed and growing up in that area but I also want to take it back in time a little bit some of the characters are kinda loosely very loosely based on people that I had interacted with throughout my life heady and Willie that G. main characters early on in the film are are based on my sister and my relationship the closeness that we add the adventures that they have together things like that those are all things that I did as a child with my sister it’s not by any means autobiographical goodness it’s not autobiographical it’s based on you know the area where I grew up with and that’s where it came to me and why is hold on film was it the second part your question in Leslie can answer this better than me but I just want to say is a writer Leslie is a very visual writer when I first read the script I could picture every scene my mind like how it was going to beat it and she’s not a prolific writer is very you know not a lot of information but if the right amount of information for me to visualize really picture how how this would be films which I thought was unusual to do read a lot of scripts I think she’s a visual writer which lends itself to film and Sam and then it’s out what really attracted you to producing it that Michelle was just she wanted to visualize sought for Leslie well it will tell you the back story the city especially night we knew each other do we to have met on the set that are %HESITATION kids had done a commercial for probably eight years ago now while ago and kept in touch via social media Facebook she lives in Portland which is about three hours from where I’m at in Seattle so just you know queen says over social media but one day she came to me and asked if I’d be she had watched a short film that I had put out on social media that my son had been in and she watched it and thought he would be perfect for the role of Willie for this script she wrote I didn’t know she was a writer and she had never previously shown anybody her scripts so she’s kind of like a closet raiders just she sent me the scripts and I started reading it and I’m not sure if you had time to watch the film but the set up of the film is with the boys you know their tweens the first fifteen minutes of the film you watch the set up and I read up to that point in the script and I was just like oh my god this is one of the best scripts I’ve read and I could just my heart I was totally engaged by page ten you know just sucked in and by like sixteen or something I text her I said oh my god is she said oh my god good %HESITATION oh my god dad because I was the first person to read the script and I said oh my god I just called her and I said this is so good this is just so good so that’s how I got selected I didn’t know maybe at that time that was her first script I didn’t know anything you know if she’s made any short films or anything she came up to Seattle we did a table read and then after the table read she said so I don’t know if this can just be a short film if we could do a feature length film but you know what you ladies we can get it done could you help me I’ve never done so before so I don’t know I I tell people I don’t usually believe in fate but there was I feel like there’s an element here why this all came together why I said yes I thought it was just crazy I’m more conservative than Leslie and you know don’t usually take risks like this and I just was a great time in my life and we kind of just figured it out together over the last three and half years it’s been kind of a crazy ride we’ve learned a ton a ton and I think we produce something pretty good for you know given what we %HESITATION the resources that we had a play into second let’s see do you want to add anything to Michelle stories there well yeah I think that I I I call myself a closet writer for many years I have so many scripts and short stories and so on and that I write but I’ve always felt that sharing your writing is like letting someone see ill make it you know nobody you just don’t want to do that and because it shows all your flaws it shows you know your inhibitions it shows everything in your writing and people can’t really judge you on your writing style even though I love to write I’ve never really shared by writing with anyone so it was a big step a big step for me to say Hey I’m going to share something with you and it was easier to share it with someone that I didn’t know really well then it was share share with someone who I intimately know or care a lot about because Michelle could have been honest with me does that make sense I’m Michelle had no nothing best and she could have hurt my feelings that thank you I think it’s a something for us right now but her response was authentic and genuine and she was very enthusiastic about the script and made me feel somewhat validated I guess all writers maybe need some kind of validation before they take the next step at least for me at it that’s a really important story to tell I think because there’s probably a lot of people like they’re like you you hear setting on work and they’re too scared to share it with anyone and that’s a really great story of where it can actually work I’d if you take that leap into the abyss so that’s really great for people to hear I hope hope hope you know art is the most important thing to me art most important thing in the world because it it brings joy right whatever form of art there is it brings joy and it sometimes being on her way to share your arch keeps people from sharing it you know and it may really resonate with someone hi tended to did you go from the the ID in the script Sakshi getting it into production because I know that you you went to in the crowd funding rates I’m sure there’s a big story behind that as well I think one of the smart moves we made as we carved out six months to see how much money we could race to see whether we could take on a feature length film funding wise or whether we just might have enough money to do what we feel would be to put forward a short film I think a lot of filmmakers at least one a lot of local indie filmmakers I know they don’t necessarily take that time may kind of wing it and try to do stuff and no money and I do think we did the right thing by taking that time and doing it and it it didn’t just raise the funds it helps spur our marketing right from the very beginning to start building your audience early is that some advice we got from another producer that I think is was well taken so you can the two can go hand in hand we did a big what we thought was a big crowd funding and indie gogo which was quite successful we more than made our goal and that inspired us to think that we had enough to meet your future phone which we actually end up doing we had to do a lot of asking because we didn’t have enough money to make a really good quality feature of the film is set back in the nineteen twenties so that’s another feat that’s quite hard to pull off as an indie filmmaker to make it at that tech looking to the nineteen twenties and more expensive right all the props and Senate locations and all that so in addition to %HESITATION you know raising the money we had to do a lot of asking of Hey can you volunteer to let us use your vintage car yeah we asked the town’s we found two historic towns next to each other for filming you know we had to ask you know their city council if we can use their public spaces they gave it to us for free just about all the locations were given to us for free to use the props antiques and even an old tractors the perfect old tractor we’re looking for the actually look new we found a steam train there’s a local steam train that actually still operates down there and we needed one for the film they gave us the use of that for free yeah I mean it was just almost ridiculous how much was just given to us just because we asked so the combination of raising what we thought was enough money in conjunction with just getting out there and asking people people are excited said make a film this was in two towns that are pretty not remote but there is not a lot going on down there and them and they are historic and I think that a lot of people in those towns that was really cool that it a film set back in the twenties is going to be made in their towns there’s a lot of get up and go a lot of good will down there that we found it we also did at dinner fundraiser down there to raise money that was the initial reason but it actually did a lot more than that it got that good will get the word out in the excitement out a lot of the Ted that people down there became extras in the film they’re really excited about that and some of them brought their own wardrobes and just got really into it even the fire chief the ad at the fire station helped us we didn’t have sixteen hundred dollars to rent a rain machine so he he brought fire track and hooked up the hose and we got one K. we got one shot on this one J. and he just prayed the hose in the air and got the rain to come down on the actors and their work we were so excited we had shot the scene twice already with no rain right well doesn’t work we’ll have our back up right yes so and and it was amazing just to see the community come together to try to make this project because when we were at the dinner we just had a captive audience we ask people were like this is what we need this is what we need this is what we need is what we need and by the time we were done with that dinner we had two people volunteer their farms to be burnt down and we were just kind of you know right away what we need to burn down the barn does anyone ever bark we can burn down yes you well in two years yeah we’re just jokingly asking to %HESITATION thing that we learned in all of this is that at the end of the day people want to help people thank you it’s just a lot of times people don’t want to ask for help the R. model began eighteen it became that power up the ass be authentic in your ask be truthful be honest let them know this is where I’m coming from I don’t have a budget where I can you know give you money the people were just %HESITATION one all and excited to be you know a part of it it’d be part of something creative that’s bigger than yourself I think that I would sign on if somebody asked me you know it anyway it’s it’s exciting to be part of something that so many people are involved in to actually put something on the big screen that could look really good they didn’t know asked they didn’t know we had no stars in the film you know no A. listers that are recognizable and murky but they totally bought into the story and the idea of making a film down there and the fact it was sent back in time I think it was a another big selling point can also tune into six story and I just feel like there’s a whole other side of this film as well it’s going to really beautiful story that can circulate with so I think that to get into more details but the film itself you know as indicated very clearly by the title the location is so important and as you’re saying it’s that community and I it’s great to hear such a positive story right the making of the film because I think the film itself deals is really very difficult and she’s and not so much of a community spirit going on if I’m picking up on that right so I was just wondering if you kids help flashlight a bit more for any listeners especially here in the U. K. you know we’re we’re fed a lot of sculpture from the U. S. but the specific location and after that time that you’re talking about most of us are going to know absolutely nothing about that so if it’s okay could you just help flesh out a bit more forests to depression era I it’s very rural very might necessary yet and then the sorts of issues that you’re dealing with that because you know there’s going to be a lot bubbling up Ryan’s not as well in terms of because I think the suffrage movement but is going on and and there’s a lot of racial problems and then there’s classic she’s while you’ve mentioned so if you’re happy to maybe less EKG just last Saturday but Marcus what’s your story as well you want to tell well if we’re gonna talk about Appalachia I do need to make sure that I preface that these are my people this is where I grew up and I love the end of your where I’m from so by any means I’m the purpose of this is not to shine a negative light on the people of Appalachia but Appalachian in the nineteen twenty eight is very different %HESITATION Appalachian ballad eight we’re up we’re going back in time and we’re looking at a time when I don’t think things were so different so much in Appalachia as they were in other parts of the country women were more of a second class citizen then man even in the early nineteen twenties when men that were just started a little bit more we were dealing with I don’t want to give away too much of the story is there is a very big twist at the end and the big twist at the end actually we’ll explain the actions by a lot of the characters throughout infidelity is one of the most memorable thing that you could have done in that time in Appalachia it’s something that that was our letter you know what I’m saying very much about starlet letter that area it fell yeah like I said it’s under Sir but there’s not a lot of well generations after generations after generations lived there but not a lot of people a lot of families can’t break out of poverty cycle but at the same time they’re also a very strong eight they’re very strong in their faith and their beliefs so trying to explain that without giving like much of a story and it’s a little little bit than a fine line to walk there but it’s a very beautiful part of the country the Appalachian trail a lot of people will hike that it is just the mountains trail %HESITATION on the eastern part of the United States it’s beautiful and the people are wonderful they’re just very set in their ways and sometimes people will justify their actions by what has happened yeah and I hate to use the %HESITATION terms but I four nine if you hear a lot of times people still feel that way and back in that time the nineteen twenties there was not on law enforcement as you see it now right there was one local sheriff for like three or four to L. and that was the case that the story up there we had one share I never hear of many different things like that so I hope that can help an indescribable Billboard it Leslie you know the extension that some of this a lot of it is pulled from her her childhood here in there which Leslie and I are about the same age so grew up in the seventies it’s set back in the nineteen twenties because maybe it’s a little bit more believable so that some of this these things actually can happen they still actually Leslie maybe you could talk to this can happen today that some of the things that happen in the movie like that could never happen Welton Leslie might know about the situations in her childhood where things like that actually did happen yeah I grew up with this and we were court reporter growing up we didn’t have a car I don’t think anyone would ever relate to that you know what I’m saying the seventies eighties and nineties growing up how did you not have a car but we don’t have a car I would have a telephone that sounds great to you and when I was in high school we did not have a telephone we couldn’t afford it and having that you know even though some of the things that you see you know was in the seventies eighties and nineties I took it back to the twenties because I just don’t think that if I told the story of the seventies eighties and nineties well not as we’re not believed that people would not believe that how does a family not have excel how do you not have a land line in your house we didn’t read it I had a single mother with trying to raise three children of our own and it was just their circumstances that we grew up in so we decided I decided to take this story back to the twenties to make some updates you know that I can relate you’re from my child care it would explain things a lot easier that’s really great to hear about that less because I was something I was gonna ask you bite cassette the setting is almost a hundred years on from where we are today I think that actually quite a few of the issues that come up in the film are really Prashant right now all right I think especially with a lot of what we said with their abusive behavior and race relations and gender and equality and everything he can and well into the twenty first century noise so I think it is a very twenty twenty story and a lot of ways as much as as a nineteen twenty sorry so it it’s really great to hear I’m really fascinating what you’re saying is well the plight that decision to go back to the Chinese that makes a lot of sense actually because I grew up more in the eighties and the U. K. and yet we do even for a lot of a CVP considers horror underprivileged but we probably would have had access T. a landline telephone or a cover of some description at even a neighbor’s car or something like that so you know that’s really just fastening contacts here but I thought thank you both for that yeah yeah you just hit the nail on the head you’re really did you’re really something that up very well it’s just interesting you know even when I was telling myself some of the stories from my childhood shows like what at the same time and regionally we were just a few hundred miles from each other she was growing up in Illinois and I was growing up in Kentucky but we grew up in two very different worlds very very different worlds and it’s just fascinating just to see that how to people who are completely different not far from each other but just experienced two drastically different either you mentioned earlier as well that the two boys teddy and waylaid the beast very roughly on you and your sister and then putting it back to the twenties and changing them to police as Scott Disick in to facilitate the storytelling do you think it’s easier for employees or it’s easier for me because there were some parts that I did want to share about my life okay I just felt that it was the right thing to do was to make them boys some of the things that make my sister and I did work very well wait role you know what we would find in the Barnes and Klein you know fifty feet in the rockers I would die now if I saw my kids doing things like that you know we we go frog gigging and you know we would ship times we shot guns and in the field not a lot of things that you see Freddy and really doing there definitely more masculine things but those are the things that we had it that’s what we had to play with when you’re married remember from people so that’s just what we had to delete things that were around that’s what we have to play with and that’s what we yet there is a lot of times when I was very emotional on set you know I just think that it it would have been two little girls I would’ve been a total basket okay I’m still close with my sister and I love her so much but I think having a boy it’s the kind of things a little are a little bit more controllable yeah that makes a lot of census three users here I mean we talked earlier as well right just hi positives it production experience was and it does look like he hello maybe we can consider a lot of the actors as terribly famous or anything like that they’re actually really high caliber it and the performances set you’ve got out of them and she’s got really high production values and hi the film has been found the lighting music and and all of these elements that make it looks very polished and they make it look a lot more expensive than I probably actually will which is one of the men thank you all right coming from you that really means a lot someone has so much education and someone who has spent so much time studying found that’s really sweet of you to say that means that means a lot but we you know we were limited with our actors we were limited with what we had to change from what we have to work with but I do agree with you I do think that we got some really really genuine performances and %HESITATION I think that it came through and they were more than just characters they really worked really hard to get to where they needed to be instrumental scenes for heart things were very hard but I think they roast beef thank you all we wanted to make a family I talked to Michelle about this I did not want to tell this story how a modern day director would tell story stories nowadays are very different R. told very different and how old they are we’re told when I was when my children watch that comes from my childhood and I’m like oh this is scanned by me you’re gonna love it rob Reiner’s great blah blah blah this is Ron Howard and this is Joe Dante when I share with them they think I’ll use work %HESITATION really %HESITATION and they’re very much a narrative belt right whereas a more modern day wait you’re a lot of our modern day story starts with inner dialogue the characters we must the reaction that we eat your entry the audience you’re trying to see what is going through the mind of the characters and it’s not so bad body yet so Michelle and I were we want to tell in old fashioned story not very old fashioned but I wanted to tell it the way that we grew up watching and that was the intent that so with the listen to the score the score is very much something you would have heard and the eighties and nineties someone brought up out of Africa it has we’re going out of Africa or something like that and it’s more of an epic sound to it then something that it’s a little bit more modern and that was the look and the feel that we were going for day one with our cinematographer antara composer the film is getting really positive reviews wherever people are watching it so catchy point the search to words where they can find it and any information that as well like they’re they complained about it he Michelle would you like to yeah so it’s on Amazon and designed to be TV and it’s on Google play and YouTube it’s also being taken to the console market coming up so we’re excited to see if it hopefully can go somewhere yeah that Avenue and yeah we’re on Facebook based on the movie and Facebook is probably the best place to go to social media to find out the latest %HESITATION what’s going on there filming the reviews we post in there all the press everything is on and our Facebook page did I miss anything less like so interesting hi there if you have anything you you really want to hot up in the film because we’ve been tiptoeing around the story because we don’t want to give too much away but is there anything else you wanna add about your experience in making acts and the people that you worked with anything at all well I think we kind of already said it but just to reiterate that craziness of how I mean you mentioned the production quality value the film and that the good acting all round I think we really made a really solid looking film that’s the feedback we get that looks studio quality if you know more about our budget was less than six figure six you know you have to you know we say for the price of a new car we made this film over the course of three years and I I am biased but I think it looks and feels and watches it’s just it’s amazing for what we specs and I think you know we’re first time filmmakers never even made a short film before and we did this and pulled it off and so I think that’s that’s the story behind the story be back in just in general that’s a really good story beautifully told and we just hope that people will watch it and I see I hope this gives you the confidence to get more of the scripts I do thought closet yeah hello I I hope to find that one person out there that would believe in me we’ve been to hell do not tell anyone what you spent on the stock don’t keep that budget look you know keep it quiet because if anyone knew what we what we really did here with the amount of money that week that they would know that it was tried just shy of a miracle thanks there’s a part of me that says look what I can do for this amount of money if you would just believe in me I can do an amazing product with a few hundred thousand dollars you know I don’t even need you know millions of dollars I don’t need that and I don’t think a lot of people I need to bring a quality piece of work I don’t I don’t there was no backing up your call back I don’t know if you have heard of that or saw it but it was just for actors in a room that’s it and for a credible actors in the film was done for three hundred thousand dollars it just goes to prove that I’m trying you can just have a good story and if you have a good performance %HESITATION and just believe it stopped working I just believe in not directed that they can deliver something I would love to be able to find someone with a refurbished Alibag if we have so many stories that we have we can share there’s very different remains though very different where it I’m definitely more of a I liked eating any unnecessarily horror when I left I left to get people thinking I have four other scripts but I would love to help right thank you this crazy thing again I think that sets the toxic message to the nation I absolutely hear ye I I just totally agree with everything that you’re saying give people chances give people resources and look what they can achieve so that’s such an important message for this and I I just feel so privileged that you folks come on and talk about all this and shared your story and I hope that my tiny podcast can in some small way get that message out there as well for you so let’s see K. S. and Michelle angle heart thank you so much for your time thank you so much for sharing your story and just wish you all the best with everything it has to come and I hope there are great things coming for you and %HESITATION I really hope I get sick T. again that more links another time yeah me too well thank you so much thank you so much well it’s been a pleasure yeah it’s brilliant