Filmmaker Lenny Lenox moved to Asheville at the end of 2018 after years spent freelancing in Los Angeles. He was planning to leave the film industry behind, but—as artistic callings often do—it drew him back in. Working with local Asheville filmmakers Sean Soboleski, Carson Fox and Jordan McIntyre “reignited a spark for my passion of filmmaking,” Lenox says.
Lenox’s newest short film Things I Should Have Said was inspired by an Arthur Miller quote: “The best work that anybody ever writes is a work that is on the verge of embarrassing him. Always.” Lenox overheard the quote while his girlfriend was watching a documentary about Miller. “I began reflecting back on moments in my life where I had felt that feeling of embarrassment,” Lenox says. He wrote a scene and sent it to his co-producer Gary Blake, who told him to keep writing. “As I wrote more scenes, I began to write about the themes of loss, substance abuse, healing, forgiveness and family,” says Lenox. “Being able to pepper the characters and the story with experiences from my life was a fun and surprisingly therapeutic process.”
Things I Should Have Said follows the healing friendship between Rhett, a man struggling with substance abuse after the death of his family, and Bobby, a school-aged boy who is being bullied. The proof of concept for the film was shot in a canoe on North Carolina’s Lake James. “My hope,” says Lenox, “is that our audience will walk away thinking we can always do better no matter where we are at in life. That we do our best when we’re connected and that we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Using a local cast and crew was important to Lenox because the story and characters were inspired by areas like Waynesville, Maggie Valley and Asheville. Most of the cast and crew were from Asheville, including two interns from WCU and the local production company SuttleFilm, as well as the lead actors Jeff Benninghofen and Charlie Hitt. Hitt played the role of Bobby. “Mr. Lenox has awesome creative vision and he knows how to build a great team and to lead a group through a project,” says Hitt. “The atmosphere that he creates on set is so positive, supportive and encouraging, and this type of environment helps me do my best work as an actor.”
The film has earned extensive recognition: it was screened at the LA Shorts International Film Festival and earned “Best Short” at the Tampa Bay Motion Picture Industry Professionals’ Independent Film Festival. Lenox says his goal is to get the feature-length script of Things I Should Have Said green-lit and into production in WNC. “The setting of the story is important, because after living and working in bigger cities around the country, the ‘Anytown, USA’ feeling I get from the Western North Carolina region provides a setting that I believe everyone can relate to,” says Lenox. “It only made sense to search out that creativity in the people that live here, and I could not have been more fortunate to end up with the cast and crew that helped create the proof of concept.”