Georgia College grad shoots TV pilot in Milledgeville, aims for Netflix

MILLEDGEVILLE -- Just a week ago, Troy Hencely graduated from Georgia College.

He majored in theater.

On Friday, Hencely wrapped shooting for the pilot of “Nowhere, U.S.A.,” a comedy he wrote, produced and acted in.

He would like to sell it to Netflix.

If not Netflix, he plans to sell it to some other “new media” outlet rather than take it to a traditional broadcast company.

“Because,” he said, “new media is the future.”

Originally from Forsyth, Hencely has lived in Macon, Savannah and a couple of other Georgia communities. He’s 32, and aside from getting a degree, he’s worked several jobs including a stint as a chef.

But he said Milledgeville is sticking with him.

“I needed a special place to shoot ‘Nowhere, U.S.A.,’ and Milledgeville is that special place,” he said. “It came from here. I wrote the script a year ago in a class here.”

Hencely said businesses, locations, law enforcement and even “Carla the meter maid” were all incredibly supportive during the two-day marathon pilot shoot.

On Thursday, Hencely and his crew shot at a now defunct pizza restaurant, which served as the fictional Martha’s Cafe, the scene for the pilot’s primary set. On Friday, they shot inside and outside Leigh Thompson’s 1902-built home.

Cast and crew did scenes on Thompson’s front porch, oblivious to cars stopping, staring, then moving on with the changing corner stop light.

If people find the locations recognizable, they’ll find most of the cast even more so.

Hencely depended heavily on local talent, except for a lead role played by Roz Ryan, who flew from Los Angeles to take part.

“I knew I wanted Roz in it from the beginning,” Hencely said. “People probably know her from the television show ‘Amen,’ and she was the voice of Thalia in Disney’s ‘Hercules.’ She was perfect.”

Another lead was Ken Garland, a retired state employee who’s now a part-time deputy coroner.

He’s also an acting enthusiast and frequent performer with the Milledgeville Players community theater group.

Garland plays Glen Jones, the patriarch of a functioning, but somewhat dysfunctional, family.

He speaks highly of Hencely’s talent and vision.

“Troy is a dreamer,” Garland said. “But he’s destined to be a really successful dreamer.”

For “Nowhere, U.S.A.,” Hencely’s vision is that it entertains and evokes a few laughs but also has an impact.

“It’s a blue collar comedy -- sort of ‘Roseanne’ intersects with ‘My Name Is Earl,’ ’’ he said. “It’s zany like ‘My Name is Earl’ but has a social sensibility like Norman Lear did with ‘All in the Family.’

“I’m basically a comedian. I think if you use drama to deal with social issues, big ideas, you can just turn people off, and they won’t listen. If you use comedy you don’t threaten them. They’ll take ideas and go think about them. That’s what I want.”

Hencely said the big ideas in “Nowhere, U.S.A.” involve racism and homophobia.

If “Nowhere, U.S.A.” is chosen to run on Netflix, Hencely said he has enough material for 12 or 13 more episodes. He said if it’s picked up, and if he becomes an in-demand writer-actor, he doesn’t think it will change him a whole lot.

“I don’t see myself ever being an A-list actor or A-list writer or director,” he said. “One reason is my stories always have something to say. Sure, I can collaborate, I can change things and work with people, but that through-line, that basic idea I’m going for, that has to come through. Plus, I have people I like to work with, and I guess I have places I like to work. I think I’ll be sticking with that.”

In addition to location and actors being mostly local to Milledgeville, Hencely said the show’s crew is mostly Georgian, with Jeff Kaminski directing and production supplied by Kaminiski’s Third Place Productions.

And in true indie fashion, Hencely is funding the project on a shoestring. Money is largely coming from friends, and much of it is through “Nowhere, U.S.A.’s” www.indiegogo.com page, a fundraising website for indie artists. It’s one of the best places to find information on the “Nowhere, U.S.A.” project, give to it and get exclusive “Nowhere, U.S.A.” fundraising products.