“Lux Freer” Premieres — And Earns Honors

“Lux Freer” — Triple Threat Academy‘s award-winning, locally shot and produced independent film — enjoyed a pair of premieres last month.

The plot involves Lux, a middle-class non-binary teen who feels like an outcast in their new town of rich jocks and beauty queens, until a wishing well and the most popular guy in town offer a view from the top of the social ladder.

A private screening at the Sacred Heart University Community Theatre included 21 cast members (22, counting Sophie Walther, who Zoomed in from the UK).

Cast and crew of “Lux Freer,” at the SHU Community Theater. In front: co-producers Cynthia Gibb and Jill Johnson Mann.

Staples High School 2022 graduate Echo Bodell — who stars as Lux Freer — flew in from the Savannah College of Art & Design. Echo, a non-binary songwriter/ actor, plays the non-binary protagonist, Lux Freer.

Jean Louisa Kelly — recently seen in “Top Gun: Maverick” — was there, with her daughter Josy Pitaro (Lux’s villain).  

Cameron Mann — who played a pivotal role in “Mare of Easttown” — joined assistant costume designer Zoe Mann (aka his twin). Their older brother Jamie Mann (“Country Comfort”) — who in addition to acting in the film, choreographed the big dance number — could not make it. He’s at the University of Michigan, studying musical theater. 

Watching proudly were director/co-producer Cynthia Gibb and writer/co-producer Jill Johnson Mann. Gibb — another Staples graduate — began acting at 15, in Woody Allen’s “Stardust.” She went on to great fame, in “Fame.”

“Lux Freer” reminded her of that joy. She appreciated sharing the magic of film acting with her Triple Threat Academy students.

Director Cynthia Gibb has worked with Echo Bodell for years. Here the star is, on the big screen.

“Lux Freer”‘s world premiere was Saturday, at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival. Bodell and several other cast members joined Gibb on the red carpet.

The film won Best USA Film and Best First-Time Director at New York’s Cinematography Awards in December), and followed up with Honorable Mention for Best LGBTQ Short Film at the Los Angeles Indie Short Fest last month. 

At the actual “red carpet” in Los Angeles (from left): Jennifer Ryan (Miss Savannah), Leanna Mitev (Linah Freer), director Cynthia Gibb and Echo Bodell (Lux Freer).

“Lux Freer” was created during Triple Threat Academy’s summer film camp. Students — novice and professional actors — collaborate with a professional crew to create a film, gaining experience in front of the camera and in crew apprentice roles.

Gibb calls the cast “a blend of professional actors with impressive credits, and many making their screen debuts.

“It is also a blend of the ‘popular kids,’ and those who exist on the fringes of the social strata.

“At the beginning, there were clichés. By the end, we were one big film family. It was life imitating our art.”

“Parts of the script are inspired by actual scenarios experienced by Echo on their challenging journey to live in a way that is true to themself,” says Johnson Mann.

“After the film wrapped, Echo told us that those were the best two weeks of their life. They stepped into the spotlight timidly on Day 1, and strutted out a new person on day 10.”

Several trans teens in the cast also found acceptance, like-minded friends, and a new confidence, the writer/co-producer adds.

Next up: another independent film, this summer. Details will be announced soon.

(Click here for more information on Triple Threat Academy, including enrollment.)

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