Kasey McCabe and his friends dreamed of making movies when they were little kids growing up in Portland, and now they are making those dreams reality.

McCabe, a liberal studies major and 2010 graduate of Oregon State University, and his friends Tyson Balcomb and Chapin Hemmingway, created their own company, Exterior Films, in 2005. Their second full-length feature, “The Gray Area,” premiered on June 18, at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland.

McCabe said he started making short movies at OSU, combining the critical theory and historical knowledge he gained in Professor Jon Lewis’ film classes with the technical know-how he accrued from his New Media Communications classes.

“I hadn’t seen a movie made before 1950 until I took classes with Jon Lewis,” he said. “I really learned about film history from him. And in New Media, I got the hands-on skills in production and editing that I needed.”

With a small budget of $45,000, the team used Portland casting agencies to hire professional actors and help from the Oregon Film & Video Office to gain permits for shooting on location. McCabe said the generosity and community-oriented spirit of Oregonians is what allowed them to shoot their film on such a tight budget.

“A film like this would cost at least $100,000 in Los Angeles,” he said. “Portland is a great place to make movies because it is such a close-knit community and everyone goes out of their way to help independent filmmakers.”

“The Gray Area” is about three childhood friends who come together after one of their buddies is found dead, apparently from an overdose. As the story unfolds, the men start to investigate whether their friend’s death had suspicious motives.

The film stars former OSU student and working actor Gavin Bristol, who has already been featured in Portland-based productions such as the popular “New Moon” film from the Twilight series as well as the TNT series “Leverage.”

“The Gray Area” will show for June 18-24 at the Hollywood Theatre. After that one-week Portland engagement, McCabe said the team plans to self-distribute it to theaters throughout the West Coast.

Tickets and showtimes to “The Gray Area” are available now.

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