Noah Payton had a wish to take a trip to Hollywood to see movie sets and production companies. Through Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, Noah and his family traveled to Los Angeles over the summer to make his wish come true.
Noah has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an inherited disorder that is characterized by progressive muscular degeneration. Mike, Noah’s dad, said that he was diagnosed at age 3 with this most severe type of muscular dystrophy.
Through diet and exercise, along with medication, Mike said Noah’s life expectancy has increased. But the family also knew that taking Noah, who celebrated his 16th birthday on Sept. 22, on this trip sooner rather than later was important.
After communication began with Make-A-Wish, the family decided a 5-day destination trip to Hollywood would be fascinating for Noah, who has always been interested in movies and directing.
“It really began with watching Toy Story at my aunt’s house,” Noah said.
The Owensboro teen is interested in all aspects of movies, but he really enjoys writing the story and watching it come together.
“Noah channels his energy by talking, telling story ideas, characters he has created, his whole life,” his dad said.
Noah’s favorite movie is The Breakfast Club, although most anything nostalgic to the 1980s is suitable. He also prefers to watch movies on VHS tapes instead of streaming or discs, according to Mike.
With his interest in movies, Noah is working on a murder-mystery film titled Home Sweet Murderer that is in the whodunit style movie similar to the blockbuster Knives Out. He said the writing is the part he is enjoying. Noah said that in most suspense films, the effects are the easiest to pull off and most anyone can do it, but crafting the script is what he is still in the process of completing.
While planning the trip out west, Mike began reaching out to celebrity agents for a meet-and-greet with Noah and the family.
When he reached out to Kevin James’ agent, he wasn’t sure what would happen. But on the second day the Paytons were in Los Angeles, the agent contacted them to say James wanted to do something, but that James lives in New York City rather than California.
While in Los Angeles, the Paytons visited all of the production lots – Universal, Paramount and Warner Bros. through Make-A-Wish, and Sony on their own.
“It was amazing to see all they had,” Mike said. “We walked the sets of Dr. Phil, Jeopardy and The Goldbergs. We also saw All American: Homecoming and walked through their set.”
Noah enjoyed talking to the people involved in all of the production specialties and even the tour guides, who are usually writers themselves. One of the guides had been a writer for the popular children’s series Barney, and Noah said she had majored in English in college, which helped him begin thinking about his major as well.
Mike said one of the best experiences was renting a specialized wheelchair that Noah could use to go to the beach for the first time.
When they returned to Owensboro, Noah chatted virtually with James and his YouTube channel crew.
“Noah spent about 15 minutes talking to James and the crew and even told them about the movie he wants to make here,” Mike said. “(James) wants Noah to send it to him and wants to go on steps with him and his career.”
Another filmmaker interested in Noah’s work is Anthony Survant, a local filmmaker.
“(Survant) came to the house, where Noah wants to make the film, and walked Noah through how to do the shots and put it together,” Mike said.
Mike said that Survant mentors Noah and has given him tools to help him on his movies, including a clapboard, boom mics and other equipment.
Noah’s movie will be completed soon and he hopes to have a local release party.
“I want to build movies around our community,” Noah said.
The Paytons were grateful for every aspect of how Noah’s wish was granted.
“We would never have had this opportunity without Make-A-Wish,” Mike said. “With all it takes to do the day-to-day activities with Noah, they helped us do all of the things to make his wish come true.”