KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi remember the shock of learning a close friend was involved in a murder-suicide years ago.
At first, Robert focused on whether he missed any signs.
“It was a very dark period that left so many bereaved, bewildered,” he said.
Robert’s wife, Kelly, described a different feeling during the same time period.
“I think I, personally, was just trying to move through the grief process of it all,” she explained.
The couple agreed on one thing: they had a choice on how to react to this tragic situation.
“We had an opportunity to change the meaning of these events. If we didn’t, then it would have all been for nothing,” Kelly said from her Olathe, Kansas, home. “So there was a big intent on our part to bring the story to life and give it another meaning through this film.”
The film is called "The Ravine." It premieres Friday. The film is inspired by the true story of how the Pascuzzis found a positive meaning and learned to forgive.
“Ironically, I know the film is going to help so many families, but it actually started with us first,” Kelly said as she described the healing effects of producing the movie.
The Midwestern couple, with basically no Hollywood connections, self-financed the project.
Over the course of three years, they were able to adapt Robert’s book by the same name into a screenplay and hire a cast that includes Leslie Uggams of "Roots," Eric Dane of "Grey’s Anatomy," Teri Polo of the "Meet the Parents" franchise and more.
Days of our Lives actor, and Missouri native, Kyle Lowder plays a role in the film. He said he felt added pressure knowing he was portraying a real person.
“I work better under pressure, I welcomed it, but at the same time, I’m thinking in these weeks leading up to the release of the film I really hope that I’ve done my job in the best way possible,” Lowder admitted.
Because most of Los Angeles is under COVID-19 gathering restrictions, the Pascuzzis are hosting Friday’s premiere of the film at B&B Theaters in Overland Park, Kansas.
Lowder, Dane and other actors will attend the event.
The movie has showtimes in select theaters all weekend.
“Getting the film done, that’s the goal, but it’s the journey we were after. In any endeavor like that, it’s who you become in the process. You have to become somebody new and you have to grow to be able to hit these big goals like a movie or anything else you’re chasing after,” Robert said.
The Pascuzzis hope the film helps others grow in their own journeys.