Murray, KY – In 2001, Angie Gregory wrote a short screenplay for a class at Murray State University titled Goodbye, Wendell. After graduation, she moved to L.A., where she pursued acting and directing. Little did she know that she would return to Murray nearly eight years later to make the 30-minute short film on her home turf.
"Goodbye Wendell was definitely born at Murray State and I've developed it through the years and have decided to make a movie," says Gregory, "You write things, you know, throughout college and stuff like that."
The screenplay is a project close to Gregory's heart. Surviving many different forms of abuse through her childhood, she wrote the lead character, Wendell, as a quiet and emotionally abused adult.
"Emotional abuse may not be so obvious as physical abuse, with bruises and people can pick up on it," Gregory continues, "but emotional abuse sets patterns early in life for a child that will affect them throughout their whole lives."
Though Gregory relates to each character in the screenplay, she most identifies with Wendell, the lead character who lives in a trailer park with his abusive parents.
"Wendell, it's from a male perspective, but I really could latch on to the emotion entrance in the gender differences."
Helping Gregory make this film is director of photography, Eric Hovis, a graduate student at Murray State who got involved with the project on a whim.
"Well, I actually started out, I sent my demo reel to Angie," says Hovis, "who I had been in contact with in L.A. and we were just communicating back and forth, you know, like minded filmmakers, both had stories to tell. She really liked my demo reel.
As Gregory sets up the technical aspects of the film,, including finding locations and the remainder of the cast, she's looking forward to having the time to focus on the characters and their growing development through the story.
"I'm first of all, foremost, a writer," says Gregory, "so I love to see my characters come to life. And just having an actor breathe life into my characters and directing them to make this story I wrote back in college come to life on screen. That's going to make me cry happy tears and it already has."
This isn't Gregory's first time sitting in the director's seat. She made three independent
films before this and also had several professional acting jobs. From experience, Gregory knows that sometimes things don't turn out the way you expect them to.
"A lot of times in film, it's like throwing putty on the wall," says Gregory, "You have to just hope that it looks good, because you can't focus as much like when directing plays. You can't focus as much on characters, because you have to make sure all the technical stuff is also going right or it doesn't look good. You could have the best acting in the world, but if the lighting's not good or the sound, you can't hear them, it takes away from story and what's going on."
And for life after the production?
"I plan to hold a private screening in Los Angeles for potential investors, serious people who I can say Look at this finished product and who wants to help me, who wants to invest in this to send to film festivals.' I want to send to film festivals worldwide."
More than success and recognition, Gregory wants people to see the real message within Goodbye, Wendell.
"I would like Goodbye, Wendell viewers to go away with a message of hope and inspiration that just because your initial situation is one way doesn't mean it has to be that way permanently."
Gregory isn't done with Western Kentucky just yet. After completing Goodbye, Wendell, she plans to return to the area again to bring more of her work to the screen.
"I have many Southern stories in me. I feel like I'm a Southern fiction writer, because you write what you know, and I absolutely see myself coming back to the area to do more films."
Gregory heads back to Kentucky the first week of July to start production, and to finish something she started years ago in college: create a story about the ever lasting affects of emotional abuse, and how wounds can be healed.
For more information, visit www.goodbyewendell.com.