Drew Boyd once read a story about a man who was making a very nice living retrieving the coins thrown into Rome’s legendary Trevi Fountain. The concept intrigued Boyd so much that he wrote a screenplay about two North Carolina buddies starting a business scooping up coins from fountains around the state. Throw in a romance and a mysterious homeless man and you get “Well Wishes,” a film The Hollywood Reporter called “a feet-on-the-ground fantasy with a nicely underplayed comic tone.”
“One night after I read the story, the first scene came to me,” says Boyd, a 30-year-old Raleigh native. “It was a goofy presence. I was influenced by these fantasies that are so saccharine they could break your teeth, like ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ and ‘Groundhog Day.’ I wanted this to be an optimistic, breezy tale.”
Boyd, who uses his first name, Anderson, as his directorial nom de plume, attended Ravenscroft in Raleigh and then went to film school at UNC-Wilmington, but never finished because he started getting jobs in the local film industry. “I was working long days on shoots,” he says, “at the suffering of my classes.”
He then was lured away to New York City, where he attended an editing trade school. One of the class projects was a film called “Winter’s Bone,” which eventually became the critically acclaimed 2010 feature starring Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes, for which Boyd received an “additional editor” credit.
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“Well Wishes” was shot on a budget of slightly more than $250,000 in 29 days at 65 locations – many of them familiar to Tar Heel residents: the North Hills shopping center, Blue Ridge Parkway, WRAL Gardens, Raleigh Convention Center, Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, and more.
Boyd’s film was also one of the last to qualify for the state’s now defunct film tax incentive fund, a situation the director calls, “a huge disappointment. The grant system (the tax incentive was replaced by a series of grants to filmmakers, which is capped at $30 million total) now is too little, too late. Productions are beginning to flee, and the actors I used are disappointed because they have to travel a lot more, to Atlanta and New Orleans. It just seems more dire than it has for a long time.”
Still, Boyd’s future seems bright. His film is thoroughly professional in all aspects, a sweetly sentimental tale guaranteed to generate a tear or two. But he also recognizes that even though the Hollywood Reporter review got him a bit of traction, the fact is, “there are so many movies out there, it feels overwhelming to rise above the noise.”
If nothing else, making “Well Wishes” was a great learning experience.
“One thing I learned was hiring people you trust and getting out of the way,” says Boyd. “You don’t want to be an obstacle, you want to create an environment where they can thrive.”
Watch ‘Well Wishes’
Cost: Rental and purchase prices range $3.99-$12.99