HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – A former Orange Park resident, now a filmmaker in Hollywood, is releasing his first movie on Friday.
The sad side of Hollywood isn’t new: an actor or filmmaker leaves their home to go to Los Angeles where they’ll make their dreams come true, only to find themselves packing their bags a year later.
Former Orange Park resident Kevin Ward bucked the trend, and his first movie is out on Apple TV, iTunes and other major streaming services.
“I never would have thought I’d make a movie as a kid in Florida,” Ward said. “It never occurred to me that it’s something someone could actually do but here I am doing just that.”
“A Patient Man” is the first movie directed by Ward. It’s a movie about a man who, in the aftermath of a terrible car accident, tries to put his life back together while seeking revenge for what he’s lost. There’s a lot more to the story but to save you from spoilers, what lies at the heart of this movie is a story of revenge, according to Ward.
He said it’s crazy to that a movie he created and directed will be released to the public after years of work. Ward’s story, in a way, goes as far as back as elementary school. Ward attended W.E. Cherry, where he was actively involved in theater. He went on to Orange Park Junior High where he continued theater and joined the chorus at school. He continued both of these extracurricular activities at Orange Park High.
“At the time, you didn’t really know that a career in the film industry was possible,” Ward said. “I didn’t know anyone or had even heard of anyone doing that.”
Ward pursued theater in college at the University of Central Florida. It was in the university’s surrounding area of Orlando where he met his wife. She was an actor and LA was the next step for her. Ward followed and quickly found himself without a direction for life in the city.
“When I got to L.A., I had no direction,” Ward said. “I started teaching middle school when a friend of mine from junior high and high school living in Monterey asked me if I wanted to make a movie.”
Ward said ‘yes’ and quickly wrote a short film that he, his friend and some other people originally from Orange Park shot together.
“It was terrible but we were proud of it,” Ward said, laughing at the memory of it.
A friend from that experience was actor Damon Wayan’s personal assistant. He hired Ward to shoot b-roll footage of Wayan’s sketch comedy show during the summer when Ward wasn’t teaching. That summer job put Ward on the path that led to “A Patient Man.”
Ward quit teaching to become an assistant editor on the show and since then, his career as an editor has seen him work on shows such as “9-1-1”, “Gotham” and currently, “The Orville.” During all of this television editing, Ward had the idea of making a movie in the back of his mind.
“I always sort of wanted to make a movie,” Ward said. “I had always loved movies and being an editor, learning filmmaking through editing, it demystified the process for making a movie.”
So, Ward did what any hungry filmmaker did: he found the money, round up a cast and crew, many of which were from Florida, and created “A Patient Man.” Ward wrote the movie before he became an editor on Gotham and raised the money and shot the film while working as an editor on Gotham.
“It works out because I’m able to do these projects while I’m off a television job,” Ward said. “It affords me the ability to have the time to do things like make a movie while also working as an editor in an industry I love.”
Despite Ward’s Hollywood life, he’s still an Orange Park resident at heart. His parents still live in the town and he visits at least once a year.
“I really owe a lot to Orange Park. It set me off on the path that led me to where I am today.”