Gregory Marks wants to make Washington State number one when it comes to anti-bullying. Part of his plan for that is to have the new short film, Joenah, shown in schools. Marks screened the movie for Stadium High School students in early September. It will premiere at the Blue Mouse later this month.
Tacoma is the star of the movie. Scenes are shot at Stadium High School, Europa Bistro, and Fircrest Pool. The film uses local actors.
“Tacoma gets a bad rap, but it’s a very beautiful place and there’s lots of talented people here,” Marks said.
Why the subject of bullying? Marks wanted to write about conflict and started to look into bullying stories — a hot button issue.
“Once I saw all these stories, it just touched me,” he said.
In the movie, a deaf student named Joenah is bullied at school. But when he hears of an upcoming swim meet, he decides to enter in order to take on his bullies. The overall message isn’t about competition, however, it’s about running your own race and proving to yourself you can do things.
Marks knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity. He was addicted to drugs for 20 years, becoming homeless, sleeping in the dugout at Wilson High School. But then things turned around. He got himself into treatment and has been clean now for 14 years.
He uses his story to inspire. In 14 years, he’s never relapsed. When he speaks in schools, as he did with Joenah, he talks about how it’s possible to overcome anything.
“Once I realized I had value … that’s when my life changed,” he told the students.
Marks, aside from acting, runs an organization called Right Now Today that does fundraisers for other nonprofits.
“I like to help everybody,” he said. “We help other organizations reach their goals.”
Catch Joenah at 1 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Blue Mouse Theater in Proctor. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go toward Marks’ goal of getting the movie in schools across the state.