Metro Grand Rapids man brings Hollywood to hometown

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan man returned to his old stomping grounds to write and shoot a movie.

He said he wanted to bring Hollywood to his hometown and highlight the talent in his community.

“I’d rather be homeless than not be making movies,” filmmaker Nathan Strayer said.

Strayer said he left his home in Los Angeles to stay with his family in Caledonia at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also flew in a crew of friends and they used their down time to write and shoot.

“We didn’t have a lot of money,” Strayer said. “All we had were locations Grand Rapids had to offer.”

Nathan Strayer’s West Michigan set for “Outlier.”

With financial backing from close friends and family, Strayer and his team created “Outlier.” It’s a psychological thriller about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship. The actors, like him, are also from the Grand Rapids area.

“I think a lot of artists view their hometown as a place that they need to leave in order to succeed, and I think that changing that would be amazing, especially for Grand Rapids because we have such an artists’ city,” said Strayer.

After shooting for 50 days and creating a rough cut of “Outlier” in West Michigan, Strayer packed a suitcase and went back to L.A. for post-production. 

The finished product first aired in film festivals, won awards and got the attention of an agent, who helped him sell the movie. It’s now streaming

“It feels amazing, especially at the age of 23,” Strayer said.

Strayer said he encourages every creative to chase their dream, even if it seems far away.

“You can’t wait for opportunity to come to you; you need to create it yourself,” Strayer said.

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