This post was written by Leslie Goyette.

How do two middle-aged women with no film experience, who live in different states and barely know each other, make a 1920s coming-of-age feature film with worldwide distribution?

They meet in the middle, literally and figuratively! I am Leslie Goyette and my business partner and fellow producer is Michele Englehart, and together we formed Hold Your Horses Films.

In the summer of 2018, I had been working on the Maysville script. I reached out to Michele, who I knew casually in the acting community, and asked if she might look at my script, as I felt her son would be a great fit for a character. Michele and her son both fell in love with the story, and we met up for a read-through and to brainstorm whether it was possible to make this film. Despite our lack of knowledge of making a feature film, we knew a boatload of people in the industry from being on sets with our children over the years. It was a giant leap of faith, but with Michele’s background as a project manager and my own background in storytelling and directing in theater, we felt we just might be able to pull this off!


We started with the film budget. No Film School and the podcast Indie Film Hustle taught us to create three different budgets that included a 20 percent contingency. While we weren’t a union production, we came up with a dream budget where we could pay the SAG moderate rate, a second budget that matched the SAG ultra-low-budget rate, and lastly, we produced a bare-bones budget, which was just enough to get the film in the can if we could get super creative.

We then spent the next five months fundraising for the film. To do this, we first shot a proof-of-concept video for an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign tied to a social media push, which was exhaustive but worth it as we achieved our Indiegogo fundraising goal!

We also applied for and received fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit supporter of the arts. This sponsorship allowed us to set up a Fractured Atlas donation page through which donations, including company matches, could be tax-deductible.

Lastly, we held an informational dinner for the residents of the local community where we planned to film. We sold tickets and advertised that those who attended could sign up to be extras in the film, which turned out to be a big draw.

In the end, the total we raised fell close to our middle-tier budget, which is what we needed to feel good about greenlighting the film! We immediately began to assemble our team.

2_director_leslie_goyette_and_kevin_r'Maysville'Credit: Leslie Goyette

Tips from the set

We needed to decide if we would shoot the film around Seattle, where Michele lives, or Portland, where I live. We had 17 locations to find! We were determined to find a historic town with cobblestone streets, a working steam train, a 1920s courthouse, old farmhouses, a 1920s ballroom, as well as lots of authentic 1920s props. With the guidance of a local historian and resident, we landed on filming in the historic towns of Centralia and Chehalis, Washington, which, coincidentally, falls exactly halfway between Portland and Seattle.

Next, we needed to crew up. This is where networking came in. By spreading the word among the Pacific Northwest film community, we were able to sign on some of the most talented crew we could afford. Our cinematographer brought his own experienced crew, which saved us a considerable amount of time. We reached out to hair and makeup and costumers that we had worked with in the past and they enthusiastically signed on. Our wardrobe was provided free from several theater programs I had volunteered with over the years.

Now we needed to find housing for the actors and crew. Unable to afford hotel rooms for everyone, we reached out to the local community college.

Since we were filming in late summer, there were no students on campus, and for a small fee, the college agreed to let us use student housing. Since we also needed to feed everyone, we called the local restaurants and asked if they would be willing to donate a meal and in exchange, we gave them a special thanks in the film and tickets to the premiere. By what we call “the power of the ask” we were able to have dinner delivered for many film days through the generosity of the local restaurants.


Casting came through the support of casting directors Patti Kalles and Laurie Levine of Kalles/Levine Casting, CSA, based in Seattle. Patti and Laurie volunteered their time to help us cast a much larger net than we ever could have on our own. With their help, we were able to secure an incredibly talented cast.

Authentically creating 1920s Maysville would not be complete without all those old cars. As it would be, Centralia is also known as Hub City USA, with classic car shows almost every weekend in town. We started attending the shows, and simply asked the owners if they would be willing to volunteer their time and cars to help us. Through much kindness and support, many agreed.

The final piece to the puzzle was the art department. Being short on funds, this is where a miracle fell in place! At the informational dinner we held, we asked locals if they could help us find many of the things we needed. Through that dinner, we were so fortunate to find two local talented volunteers, and our art department was born! We subscribed to Yamdu software that allowed all of us to communicate with each other anytime anywhere. It was amazing!


After principal photography, we went into postproduction, where I edited the film, and we hired professionals for the special effects, sound design, and composing. Once we had our screener, we sent it to distributors, and after several interviews and offers, we decided on one. It came together in a matter of months. Festivals were not an option for us, as we were in the middle of the pandemic, and all were canceled for a year.

 As you can see, this process for Michele and me was all about meeting in the middle. We met in the middle of Portland and Seattle, we met in the middle in deciding between toy guns vs. prop guns, we met in the middle on burning a barn vs, burning a fence, and we met in the middle on deciding who our distributor would be. And all along the way, until now, we are still finding a way to always meet in the middle.

Maysville is available on Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, and TUBI! Please like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.