The idea of making a movie about the life of Grady Auvil was hatched three years ago after Jamie Howell made the video 100 Years of Hort, to mark the centennial of the Washington State Horticultural Association. Someone suggested after seeing the film at the Hort Convention that Auvil would make a good subject for a movie.
As Howell explored the idea, he realized that Auvil was a legitimately interesting character. "He led an interesting life and has all the eccentricities you would hope for in a movie character," he said.
Howell had previously partnered with Guy Evans to make the movie Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture and the New American Farmer about the economic struggles of the apple industry. For the new movie, Gee Whiz: The Story of Grady Auvil, he worked with his partner Jeff Ostenson and camera person Oly Mingo.
As well as being a biography, Gee Whiz is an important piece of regional history, Howell said. Auvil is among a long list of people who have had a major impact on the communities of central Washington. It could be the first in a series of films documenting their lives and stories.