Short film by local production company debuts to sold-out Middletown audience

MIDDLETOWN — Average Joe Films will host the world premiere of its latest short film, “The Rise of Elsie Matthews” during a sold-out independent film showcase that will be at Cinema 10 on Sunday.

“The event sold out in four days,” said J.W. Cox, director, producer and founder of Average Joe Films.

“The Rise of Elsie Matthews” stars Rhyan Hanavan, a local, Middletown child actress, who has been in several Hollywood films such as “Wrong Turn” and “Donnybrook.” The production also stars Kira L. Wilson. The premiere will be followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew of the film. Additionally, Average Joe Films will show several of the company’s popular short films, which have been produced in and around Middletown.

Average Joe Films is a film and production company based in Middletown. Cox started producing videos in college. He was part of the Audio/Video Production program at Cincinnati State, and he graduated in 2015.

“I’m a graduate of Cincinnati State. I started at the Middletown campus and worked my way through their program. Right out of school, I started Average Joe Films. We specialize in weddings and corporate films, but we also produce narrative projects on the side. So, I’ve been operating as a professional filmmaker for the last eight years,” Cox said.

Weddings are definitely my “bread and butter,” he said, but the company also has been “leaning heavily” on producing narrative, short films.

“It’s culminated into this showcase, where we are going to show off a handful of the films we’ve made over the last six years, all in one night as a celebration of creating films in this area, and also to debut our brand-new short film, ‘The Rise of Elsie Matthews,’” said Cox.

During the two-hour movie premiere and screening, there will be 10 short films showing, ranging from 7 minutes to 15 minutes each. These films have been featured in film festivals all over the world and several of them have won awards. The films represent a sampling of the many films Average Joe Films has produced.

“One of the things I like to focus on in my storytelling process is, number one, I like to set my stories in the Midwest, because it’s an area I know and relate to, and I think that Hollywood doesn’t exactly depict the Midwest well. It takes a Midwestern voice to portray Midwestern stories. So, I set a lot of my stories in the Midwest, first off, he said.

“Then, I just try to build stories around the imperfections of humanity. It’s really easy to have a hero, but having a flawed hero, or a flawed character to build a story around is always far more interesting, because it’s more relatable to people. Another thing is I like to keep my films produced in and around Middletown. I have a heart for it. I love this city,” Cox said.

Cox was born and raised in Middletown, where he currently resides with his wife, Caroline, and their daughters, Naomi and Noelle. In addition to filmmaking, Cox enjoys playing guitar, and he is actively involved in his church, Middletown Nazarene. For more about Average Joe Films, go to

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