ASHEBORO — “Tethered,” a full-length feature film produced by a local independent company, will be released in select cities on Friday, March 18.
Jared Laufree plays the teenage Solomon during a scene. -4 Leagues Media
The psychological thriller, shot over a 15-day period in a wilderness preserve near Thomasville, stars veteran TV and film actor Alexandra Paul, Hollywood veteran Kareem Ferguson, and newcomers Jared Laufree and Brody Bett in their feature film debut.
Brody Bett and Alexandra Paul perform for a shot. -4 Leagues Media
The story is about a blind boy named Solomon living with his mother in a wilderness cabin. He’s tethered to a long rope to keep him from getting lost while exploring the woods and streams. Flash forward to Solomon’s teenage years, his mother is gone but the young man remains tethered. A hunter finds and befriends him, but they’re soon tormented by a mysterious creature lurking in the woods.
Cooper Thornton, left, and Dan Robinette of 4 Leagues Media talk about their first full-length feature film, 'Tethered.' -Larry Penkava
Randolph Hub met recently with Dan Robinette, director of “Tether” and a co-founder of 4 Leagues Media of Greensboro, and Asheboro resident Cooper Thornton, a producer and writer for the company.
Thornton gives a synopsis of the film, which has the viewer wondering why Solomon is out there, what happened to his mother and how the relationship develops between Solomon and the hunter, Hank.
“It’s a big mystery to figure out,” Robinette said. “Strange things occur. There are horror elements but it’s Alfred Hitchcock-like — no blood.”
“It’s very character-driven,” Thornton added.
Jared Laufree, who plays the teenage Solomon, gets 'made-up' for a scene. -4 Leagues Media
The film was shot in January, 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of restrictions, the crew was limited to a dozen.
“It’s a bleak film,” Robinette said.
“We got lucky on the weather,” Thornton said of the cold and damp condition. “The elements were a challenge. But the weather lent to the ‘dark and stormy night’ theme.”
Veteran actor Alexandra Paul poses between scenes with Greensboro newcomer Brody Bett, who plays a young Solomon. -4 Leagues Media
“Keeping dry and warm was a challenge,” Robinette said. “It was shot in three weeks, a pretty aggressive schedule, and we were all pretty spent.”
Thornton agreed: “There were long days and sometimes shooting at night. We had very little sleep.”
4 Leagues Media has produced several award-winning short films, including “Tethered,” but the crew found a full-length feature film “more challenging on every level than a short,” Thornton said.
“We’ve been making award-winning short films since 2015, so the jump to feature-length was something we’ve been preparing for for a long time,” Robinette said. “It was time to tell the entire story of Tethered, and we’re excited to partner with Gravitas Ventures to bring it to the masses.”
Gravitas Ventures, a worldwide film distributor based in Cleveland, Ohio, has bought the North American distribution rights to the film.
According to a press release, “Tethered” will open in theaters on March 18 in 10 different markets across the country, including 4 League Media’s hometown of Greensboro.
“We’re incredibly excited to be releasing Tethered,” said Gravitas Ventures’ senior director of acquisitions, Bill Guentzler. “We feel audiences will enjoy its subtle tension and psychological twists and metaphors. I’m proud to call it my first major acquisition
at Gravitas Ventures.”
It helped to have veteran actors involved with “Tethered,” Thornton said. “Getting to work with Alexandra Paul was wonderful.” Her past work includes the John Carpenter-directed “Christine,” “American Flyers” starring Kevin Costner, “Dragnet” co-starring Tom
Hanks and Dan Aykroyd, and nine seasons on the global TV hit “Baywatch.”
According to Thornton, Paul would sometimes “cut” a scene which everyone thought was perfect but she said she could improve on. During one shot in which she was talking to her son, Paul suggested that she be folding clothes to make the scene seem more natural.
Brody Bett, the young Solomon, is “a rising star” and established musician from Greensboro. All the production assistants were local.
As with all films, there were problems on the set. Thornton and Robinette recalled shooting a scene, only to realize that someone had left a thermos bottle on the set. The scene had to be reshot, without the thermos.
4 Leagues Media isn’t resting on its “Tethered” laurels. Thornton said he’s currently working on the script for their next film.
Where you can see ‘Tethered’
Among the select cities where “Tethered” will be released, it will play at Greensboro’s RED Cinemas at 1305 Battleground Ave. The film will also be available beginning March 18 on most video-on-demand platforms, including Spectrum, Comcast, Direct TV, Dish, iTunes, Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, Vimeo, AT&T, COX, Verizon, Microsoft, Vudu and more.