The World Premiere for Tamlin Hall’s film Holden On took place Saturday, March 25 at the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival. This heart-wrenching narrative is based on a true story about a 17 year-old boy named Holden Layfield who tragically takes his life after a two year struggle with his dual-diagnosis of schizophrenia and drug addiction. This story is an honest account of a gifted athlete from Lagrange Georgia who is praised by his peers and already being scouted by college football teams pre-graduation. Tamlin Hall (Writer & Director) brilliantly chooses to tells Holden's story in 1st-person which allows the audience to momentarily step into Holden's world and to feel what he felt. The film also shows us how Holden manages to hide his illness from his parents and friends which left so many stunned when it all began to surface. Mr. and Mrs. Layfield share with us in detail about how they feel witnessing their son's story on the big screen.
First of all, I've got to say how inspired I am by the strength and faith I sensed in speaking with the Layfields. Mr. Layfield very humbly shares how they hope that this film will inspire other people who who are like Holden was, to speak out and seek help before it's too late. He also shares with us how he believes that God can take tragedy and work it out for good such as what this film is already beginning to produce. Likewise, Mrs. Layfield, in tears of gratitude, shares with us how proud she is of Tamlin (who grew up with Holden) for all the hard work he has put into this production and how she appreciates him telling his story to the world.
Shortly afterwards, I also got an opportunity to interview Director Tamlin Hall who immediately was taken aback by this feather brooch I was wearing on my blazer. Tamlin asked me if there was any particular reason I chose to wear the feather brooch and when I told him there was none, he motioned for Mr. Layfield to come over to tell me the significance of the feather. He shares with me how he once asked God to give him a sign that Holden was OK and specifically asked to see a feather after reading an article in Guidepost Magazine about a mother who experienced a similiar thing and began to see a white bird shortly after her son's death. Since, Mr. Layfield says that God has been confirming by feathers showing up in very unconventional places! I was humbled to discover that the feather has become a very significant sign that close people wear to commemorate Holden's life.
Tamlin shares with us how he is totally ecstatic to have the world premiere hosted in Georgia at #ATLFF2017 and mentioed how much of an honor it is to see this all unfold. He too grew up with Holden and was inspired to tell this story on a more intimate and personable level for those who may be facing the same struggles. We also got an opportunity to speak with Holden's best friend Zinte Lovelace and Actor Steve Ellis who plays "Zinte" in the film.
Speaking with Zinte first-hand really touched me. Zinte shared how even being there for this screening brought back a lot of memories and how he is still trying to piece together all that Holden was going through during the time of their friendship. He says that you never know what people are going through on the internally and how this has taught him to be more sensitive to people around him; to look beyond facades and focus on what people are not saying. Likewise, Steve Ellis shares with us how careful he was portray Zinte in the right light and just how honored he was to play Holden's friend through the difficulties he experienced.
Finally, I also got a chance to speak with the star of the film Actor Matt Fahey who plays the role of Holden Layfield. Matt tells us that this whole process to the point of watching himself play this character is an extremely emotional journey because of how real the subject matter is. He says that not only was it an honor to glorify Holden's life, but the other objective for this film is to provide a voice for people who otherwise do not have one and need an outlet to express themselves. Overall, I would say that this film is a brilliant and well-written script that puts you in a real place of reflection in regards to life, time and seizing the moment. I pray that the message that was relayed throughout this film imparts hope and courage to others who face or have faced similiar issues.
For more information on this film, please visit www.iAmHoldenOn.org.
* Photos Courtesy of Lindsay Abarca Photography and Sara Montgomery Photography