WHS grad directs first film


Yocum says he was inspired watching documentaries about ‘Gladiator’

By John Hackley - [email protected]



Whiteoak High School graduate Kurt Yochum (center) is pictured with two of the stars from his directorial debut film “Wayward”.

Whiteoak High School graduate Kurt Yochum (center) is pictured with two of the stars from his directorial debut film “Wayward”.


After working in behind-the-scenes capacities on movies, commercials and music videos in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years, Mowrystown native Kurt Yochum reached a longtime goal of releasing his directorial debut, a film titled “Wayward.”

“Wayward” is available in select theaters across the country as well as on BET+ and through Amazon. A free screening of the movie was held at Star Cinemas in Hillsboro last Saturday.

“For sure, getting the first feature film directed and getting distribution for the movie is by far my biggest accomplishment,” said Yochum, a 2008 graduate of Whiteoak High School. “The only thing that I can compare to that is living in Los Angeles for the last 10 years and finding a way to survive.”

“Wayward” tells the story of a girl on her way to a major music festival who decided to pick up a stranger along the way. The pair is stalked by a madman and must run for their lives. The film stars Iyana Halley from “Abbott Elementary” and “Beast,” Barton Fitzpatrick from “The Chi” and “Power,” and Darius McCrary from “Family Matters” and “Transformers.”

Yochum said he was inspired to attempt a career in making movies by watching behind-the-scenes documentaries about movie-making as he was growing up.

“I remember watching ‘Gladiator’ when I was very young and watching the making of ‘Gladiator’ and seeing how they built a third of the Colosseum to scale,” he said. “That kind of stuff just really fascinated me.”

After high school, Yochum briefly attended the University of Cincinnati and then went to Full Sail University in Florida to study film making and found a niche in lighting.

“Lighting and camera just kind of clicked with me very early,” said Yochum. “I understood it, and it just made sense to me, and so by the third or fourth month I was in the labs tutoring students.”

Yochum’s first jobs in Los Angeles were almost exclusively in the lighting departments for various film projects.

“After about three or four years of that I switched to the production side — production managing and producing — so I oversee the making of the movie, the budget and the logistics,” he said. “All of the problems come to me and I have to delegate or solve the problem, but I’ve always been pushing toward directing.”

Yochum came up with the idea for “Wayward” in 2019 and pitched the idea to a few other producers who decided to greenlight the project.

“It was kind of just a group effort at the beginning of COVID when we had nothing else going on,” he said.

“Wayward” was funded by a production company Yochum started with the owner of Hollywood Depot Rentals, a rental house in Los Angeles that provides most of the equipment needed on movie sets.

Yochum hopes to direct lager-budges sci-fi and action/adventure movies in the future.

“We do have a couple of horror movies that our company is working on, and then I’m going to start writing a sequel to ‘Wayward,’” he said.

Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.

Whiteoak High School graduate Kurt Yochum (center) is pictured with two of the stars from his directorial debut film “Wayward”.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/07/web1_Movie-pic-1.jpgWhiteoak High School graduate Kurt Yochum (center) is pictured with two of the stars from his directorial debut film “Wayward”.
Yocum says he was inspired watching documentaries about ‘Gladiator’

By John Hackley

[email protected]