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Young film director debuts his film

Miami Times staff report | 5/8/2014, 9 a.m.
Elijah Wells

This is a story about a 16-year-old teenager who dared to dream. What he found was a true gift.

On Mother’s Day, he will make his mom proud as his short film “The Gift” debuts at the Historic Lyric Theater at 6 p.m.

Elijah Wells was born on June 30, 1997 in Miami, Florida to parents Willie Wells Jr and Martha Whisby Wells. He is a local actor, writer, promoter, and film director in the Miami area. Elijah started at an early age beating drums for his church. He then enrolled in The Florene Nichols Inner City tap dancing class at Charles Hadley Park.

His love for taking photos became a part-time job for Elijah. He would serve as a photographer for baby showers, birthday parties and even funerals. His father brought him a camera when he was 10 years old. This is where it began for Elijah, an exciting journey to find his calling. In 2010, he auditioned at Miami Arts Charter and during the summer he auditioned for the American Black Film Festival Cine Lab workshop that was directed by filmmaker and American Black Film Festival Producer Reggie Scott. The workshop was for youth in the Overtown area ages 13-18 (grades 8th to 12th). Even though, he was only 12 years old, Yvette Harrison, the ABFF host, was adamant on setting up an interview for Elijah with Mr. Reggie Scott. She saw something in Elijah and wanted to give him the opportunity to touch, feel and experience the aspect of working in the film industry.

 After Elijah interviewed with Reggie, the rest was history. A week later Elijah received a call to attend the workshop that summer. There, Elijah helped write and direct two short films. In 2011 he joined Panzou Project, Inc. & Miami World Cinema Center. In November, he was awarded “The Clint Eastwood Award” for best acting and directing. The award helped Elijah realize his gift for writing and directing films. In the same year, a local film director, Steve Drayton Sr, heard about Elijah and contacted his mother Martha before offering him an internship on the film called “White Boys”. Drayton is the brother of William Jonathan Drayton, Jr, known as Flavor Flav, a rapper and television personality.

Drayton was very impressed with Elijah’s skills and knowledge on the film set. He asked Elijah to return and help him with a new mini TV series called “Miss Misunderstood” starring Jo Marie Payton. It was here when Drayton urged Elijah’s parents to allow their son to pursue a career in the film industry. So in 2012, Elijah began to write his first short film called “The Gift”.

That same year, Elijah heard about Overtown Community Redevelopment Agency’s open call for entries in the American Black Film Festival “Short Film Competition.” He immediately began working on the script for the ‘THE GIFT”. His mother called Antwan Smith and Joe Latinum, two of Miami's finest film makers to shoot the new story in Overtown.

As it turned out, “The Gift” was one of several winners in the competition. With love and trust in God and the family support, Elijah has the potential to become one of greatest film makers. Elijah’s next project, working with Mr. Robert Townsend, is a film called “Playin for Love.” That project is being filmed here in Miami.

“Welcome to Miami” is the latest short movie the young director has added to his reel with many more to come. Now Elijah is presenting his first stage play called “The Gift” on Mother’s Day, Sunday at 6 p.m.