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In my travels to the best film festivals in…
On Thursday, June 12, 2014 I attended the highly anticipated World Premiere of The Well at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The sold-out screening was held at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE. The film was a selection in The Beyond section.
It's impossible for me to talk about The Well without going back to September, 2006. That's when I covered the legendary World Premiere of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was one of the most talked about nights in the history of the Midnight Madness section of genre titles, and the long odyssey to bring that iconic film from festival premiere to its eventual theatrical release seven years later has been well-documented on this site. That movie's creative team, cast and crew alike, have all gone on to great success and have continued to work with each other over the years on various projects. The Well is a perfect example.
Director/co-writer Tom Hammock served as Production Designer on All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. He also worked on three other films I've covered over the years. Hammock was Art Director on A Necessary Death (SXSW 2008), Production Designer on You're Next (Toronto 2011), and Production Designer on several segments of the anthology V/H/S/2 (Sundance 2013). Another All the Boys Love Mandy Lane alumnus is Jacob Forman. He wrote 'Mandy Lane' and served as co-writer of The Well with director Hammock.
Another 'Mandy Lane' alumnus is actor Michael Welch, who plays Gabriel in The Well. We've been following this young man's exploding career for several years on this site. He wowed audiences around the world as the hapless human Mike Newton in four films of The Twilight Saga -- Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn - Part 1, four of the most successful motion pictures of all time. Together, those blockbuster movies brought in over $2.5 billion worldwide at the box office. The 26-year-old has certainly had quite a long and distinguished career -- working on 34 features since the age of 10, along with four television movies and close to 100 television episodes, either as guest spots or as a series regular. Welch first came to prominence as uber-nerd Luke Girardi on two seasons of Joan of Arcadia, in which he co-starred with the masterful Joe Mantegna in 45 episodes from 2003-2005.
I first met Welch at the 'Mandy Lane' World Premiere. Since then I've attended many of his festival screenings including An American Crime (Sundance 2007), Remember the Daze (LAFF 2007), Choose Connor (Woodstock 2007), American Son (LAFF 2008), Lost Dream (NewFilmmakers LA 2009), Archie's Final Project (SXSW 2009 and GenArt 2009), and Boy Meets Girl (Miami GLFF 2014). I've interviewed Welch several times over the years on this site. The Well also reunites Welch with Booboo Stewart, who worked with Michael in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1.
The Well's creative team features other professionals who've played a role in pictures I've loved over the years, as well. Cinematographer Seamus Tierney worked on four films whose festival premieres I covered: The Narrows (TIFF 2008), Happythankyoumoreplease (Sundance 2010), In a World... (Sundance 2013), and V/H/S/2 (Sundance 2013). Adam Wingard, co-editor on The Well, has been involved with six festival films I've attended. He was director, camera operator, editor, and music supervisor on A Horrible Way to Die (Toronto 2010), Director of Photography on Blackmail Boys (Philadelphia QFest 2011), and director and editor on You're Next (Toronto 2011). In the horror anthology V/H/S, whose World Premiere I attended at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, he wore many hats including director, actor, cinematographer, camera operator, and sound designer. He directed a segment of The ABCs of Death, which I attended at Fantastic Fest 2012, and was Executive Producer, director, editor, and an actor in V/H/S/2, which I saw at Sundance 2013.
And my verdict? Appropriate to the title of the section it was programmed in, the Los Angeles Film Festival went deep into The Beyond with The Well, led by a tour de force performance from 17-year-old Haley Lu Richardson and a career changer for Booboo Stewart, who lost a shocking amount of weight to play the role of a young man on the verge of death from kidney disease. They killed (in many ways). As expected, indie darling Michael Welch turns in yet another head-turning performance, stealing every scene he's in and leaving an emotionally powerful impression on the audience.
Chinatown meets The Road in a post-apocalyptic neo-water wars world where years of drought have turned H2O into a commodity more precious than oil. Among several perhaps not-so-veiled references to There Will Be Blood is a five-minute opening sequence before the first word of dialogue is uttered (and a chilling "I drink your milkshake" moment). I spied an unintentional (perhaps) homage to 'Mandy Lane,' as well. Hammock and Forman brought some of that old midnight madness magic to L.A. in The Well, and it tasted good.
For a synopsis see the festival's official page.
Director/co-writer Tom Hammock led an entertaining and informative Q&A following the screening, joined by actors Haley Lu Richardson, Michael McCartney, Rena Owen, Leo Lee, and Veronica Sixtos, along with cinematographer Seamus Tierney and co-writer Jacob Forman.
Here are some pictures I shot during the Q&A:
NOTE: I selected The Well as one of my Top Picks from the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival.
The official trailer is below
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…