No crying: Wadlow not sheepish about success

No one can accuse Emily Couric's little boy of crying wolf. If the response of an enthusiastic crowd Friday night– not to mention rave reviews in the L.A. Times and New York Post– is any indication, Jeff Wadlow has delivered what he promised.

Cry Wolf is the feature length movie Wadlow and his best friend, Beau Bauman, wrote together and shot in Richmond.

Wadlow came home to an adoring gaggle of local friends and fans who packed Newcomb Hall to watch the premiere and then rub shoulders with him and leading-lady Lindy Booth at a swanky catered reception.

"I've known Jeff since he was 17," said Jason Wynn, an attorney from Northern Virginia who met Wadlow at summer governor's school classes at the University of Richmond (where much of the film was shot). "Jeff stood out from the crowd even then.

"The movie was incredible. The pacing was great, and the film captured the beauty of the school," Wynn continued. "It takes you on a ride."

In a question-and-answer session following the screening, Virginia Film Festival director Richard Herskowitz asked Booth about working with Wadlow. The flame-haired 26-year-old veteran of Dawn of the Dead said, "The passion and excitement of first-time directors is amazing. I've never seen a crew work so hard for one man."

Wadlow had a humorous explanation for the enthusiasm. "My step-sister, Leslie Beller, did 'craft services'– that's snacks," he said, "like grilled Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The crew said 'That great food's from the director's sister, so I guess we like him.'"

Asked why he chose to set a film about "deception and manipulation" in a high school, and why the teacher (played by rocker Jon Bon Jovi) was the bad guy, Wadlow laughingly pointed to one of his teachers at Buford Middle School, Douglas Moore, in the audience. Moore offered a sheepish wave.

Wadlow cited two influences on his film career– teen thrillers and film noir– and admitted that at first he had wanted to play the bad-guy teacher himself.

"But I had no time, I was getting no sleep, and I looked bad," he said. "And then we got a call from Bon Jovi's agent saying he wanted to be in the movie. He's incredibly smart, and my respect for him is enormous," he added.

Booth– whom a New York Post critic says "walks away with the film and a bright future"– also confessed to being a bit star-struck. "I enjoyed working with him," said Booth, twinkling as she recounted what it was like to kiss a rock star. "He's a pro," she said. "He came totally prepared and willing to give his all."

At the reception in UVA's Harrison Small Library after the screening, Booth raved about her love for Richmond and the fun she and the other actresses had living in Tobacco Row for the five weeks of shooting.

Wadlow summed up, "I'm ecstatic. I couldn't imagine being anywhere else for this opening." Any prediction about how well the film might do? "I probably have a message on my phone right now with the numbers for today," he said.

The message was good news. Industry reports show it grossed $4.6 million in its opening weekend on 1600 screens– not bad for a first-time venture shot in five weeks on a $1 million budget.

"How many movies can make their entire budget back on the first Friday night it shows?" Wadlow asked Monday as he was about to speak with a film class at the University of Richmond. "We're thrilled about that and the great reviews."

Friday night, when Herskowitz asked Wadlow about the future, the budding cineaste replied, "A lot depends on this weekend."

As he headed back to Los Angeles Tuesday, the future must have looked very bright indeed.

Director Jeff Wadlow and star Lindy Booth at the Newcomb Hall premiere of their new film,
Cry Wolf. 

UVA student Aaron Jones photographs fellow student John Polesak and
Cry Wolf star Lindy Booth.