The Luring is psychological thriller about a man who tries to recover a lost memory by returning to his family’s Vermont vacation home where an unspeakable act took place.
The Luring stars Rick Irwin (The Upside, The Good Doctor, Enough Said), Michaela Sprague (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Smash,” The Night Before), Dan Berkey ( “Boardwalk Empire”) and Molly Fahey (“Missed Connections”) and Henry Gagliardi (The Grief of Others, 7th Secret). The film was written/directed/produced by Christopher Wells. The cinematographer is Amanda McGrady, a WIFVNE Member.
Buy tickets to the New England Premiere of THE LURING
on November 7 at Somerville Theater on Eventbrite.
WIFVNE Presents the New England Premiere of THE LURING, produced in association with the 45th Boston Science Fiction Festival.
WIFVNE members receive discounted tickets and an invitation to the after-party.
Christopher Wells grew up watching horror films, and when it came to first narrative feature, he wanted to make a film with elements that he really wanted to see in a story. When his mother told him she was selling the family vacation home in Vermont, Christopher had a deadline to film the script he had ready. The team shot the film over 22 days –should we say mostly nights — during a muddy season in a house he had to make sure was ready for sale. A veteran of a advertising production, THE LURING is Christopher’s debut feature film.
Amanda McGrady loves horror films, and first started shooting horror flicks on MiniDV tapes in high school. A graduate of Emerson College, her love of cameras and equipment grew during her tenure at Rule Boston Camera. Over the years, Amanda has shot a variety of projects, including feature and short films, branded content, sports, and music.
WIFVNE asked Christopher Wells and Amanda McGrady a few questions about THE LURING
Chris, as the writer and director, what was your process in bringing your written script to the shooting script?
We didn’t do storyboards in pre-production but we did draw every scene and mapped out every angle and made sure we had enough coverage for editing. The Assistant Director created the schedule based on this. A week before shooting we went to each location and went over the shot list and blocking so the crew knew exactly how to light each scene. On set before breakfast we would do a quick run-through/blocking with the actors and crew based on the notes we did in pre-production.
How much time did you spend in pre-production, production, post-production?
Pre-production was spent raising money and hiring a crew –about 5 months. We shot the first scene months before we were able to shoot the feature. Amanda shot this scene so we could show it to investors and raise money. Things really come together when we hired our A.D. who was able to breakdown the script and put things in order. We shot for 22 days with every 5th or 6th day we would break for 2 days. Post production was about 8 months because we also decided to hire someone to score the film which was huge because all of the music is original.
Horror films depend on mood, which in film is often conveyed in the lighting design. What was your working relationship with Cinematographer Amanda McGrady to create the cinematic atmosphere?
We looked at films we liked and talked in great detail what sort of film we want to produce. Amanda and I would talk about each scene and our overall feeling about it and what we wanted to convey in terms of mood. We would finish each others sentences a lot of times because we had very similar ideas on our approach on what kind of film we wanted to be part of. She understood me as a writer and that helps in the process of creating the look and feel of the film.
Amanda, why did you choose to work on this film?
Initially, my love for horror films drew me to this project. When I started to talk to Chris about the visual style I could tell he had a strong vision and we shared many references. From there we shot the proof of concept. It was a positive experience, everyone was supportive and open to collaboration, so we began to plan for the feature soon after that.
And, how do you feel you were challenged or grew as a filmmaker working on this film?
This was an ambitious project and we had different challenges every day: logistics, weather, stunts, overnights. I’m so thankful that the team spent a lot of time working together during pre-production. When challenges inevitably came up we were able to quickly problem solve, keep shooting, and stay on schedule. The time we invested before the shoot was incredibly valuable.
Chris, how the camera is used is another hallmark of horror films. Did you employ any hand-held or Steadi-cam shots, or non-traditional lenses to create your desired effect on the audience?
There is no secret I am heavily influenced by The Shining and the pace of that film. I also really like David Lynch because I like all things weird. This helped us sculpt the film and our approach when drawing up camera angles and discussing lighting. We used steadi-cam when we felt it was necessary. Some steadi-cam shots are obvious and give an eerie feeling like someone is slowly following a character from behind and some of the steadi-cam shots are subtle so we wanted to mix it up a bit. Same as for the dolly shots. One of my favorite scenes is at the lake where we use one slow shot that just lands perfectly.
Amanda, what did you enjoy the most about working on THE LURING?
I love the amount of camera movement we were able to incorporate. The dolly is often moving around Garrett (one of the characters in the film) as his memories of the past are slowly revealed throughout the film. Key Grip Yahna Harris used a Fisher 11 to achieve these moves in a very limited space. As the story progresses, Claire (one of the characters in the film) starts to feel as though the house is tormenting her. In those scenes the camera follows her as she panics and tries to escape. Steadicam Operator Lisa Sene flew the camera up and down the stairs and around the house chasing Claire.
Chris, how did you fund the film?
We put in our own money to shoot the first scene to show investors we had skin in the game without skin in the game investors will not be interested. We hired an entertainment lawyer and formed an LLC, created a website and social media to show investors we were treating this like a business. We raised money through online campaigns but mainly through private investors who wanted to be part of something different. All of our investors liked the fact we didn’t want to make a typical horror film but rather a psychological thriller.
Any on-set stories you want to share?
Chris: I would say the lake scene was something special because during the 22 days of production it rained for 15 consecutive days. When we went to the lake we had to wait for a clearing and we had about 20 minutes of it. I had to tell my actors we may only get one chance, one shot to do this and they nailed it in the first take which is what we have in the film.
Amanda: I have many fond memories of the local diner. Not only did they feed us at all hours but they were The Luring‘s first fans!
THE LURING has been on the Festival circuit: where has it been? What has been the reaction?
People seem really enjoy that The Luring is different and isn’t typical which allowed us to win best Thriller at the Motor City Film Festival. That audience really embraced our film. We also screened at Panic Fest in Kansas City as well as The New Jersey Film Festival. Early on we were able to obtain a sales agent and so far they sold it to a distributor in Turkey and in the US. The US release date will be announced as soon as we get word.
What’s next for THE LURING?
We are really looking forward to the screening on November 7th at the Somerville Theater because it will be a premiere which is exciting. We are waiting to hear about the distribution deal in the US so we can have all of our family and friends see it who can’t make it to any of the screenings. We are just really enjoying the audiences reaction and are having fun being part of something that is different and unique.
WIFVNE thanks the 45th Boston Science Fiction Festival for their assistance with this premiere event.
Photo credits: Behind the Scenes and Stills from the film THE LURING provided by Christopher Wells