Friday, December 26, 2014

'When the Bell Rings' 'about more than boxing'

NORWALK, Ohio — “When the Bell Rings” isn’t just the story of an aging former boxer’s gutsy return to the ring.

While Dino “The Lethal Warrior” Wells got back into fighting shape, the 40-year-old man also learned how to be a father to his estranged son, Desmond Osborne.

Photo courtesy of the "When the Bell Rings" Facebook page
“As Wells undergoes intense training in order to shape up, he’s tormented by memories of his fatherless childhood and decides to reunite with his own estranged son,” Brad Bores said about his award-winning documentary.

“When the Bell Rings” will be shown at 8 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Sandusky State Theatre. Bores, a 2000 Monroeville (Ohio) High School graduate, said the experience will be a “hometown screening.” For ticket information, go to

The world premiere was at the New Orleans Film Festival in October. From an elite class of seven documentaries from around the world, “When the Bell Rings” earned the prestigious Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature Film.

 “It was received very well,” Bores said about the response in New Orleans.

About 80 people attended the premiere; Bores said that’s good attendance for a film festival.

“The theater held 100 (people),” he added.

For the most part, Bores said he received “very positive” feedback about “When the Bell Rings.”

“I think it hit home,” said the Monroeville native, who was as surprised by the positive input he had from women as they were that they liked the documentary.

“A lot of them were surprised,” he said. “They said, ‘I don’t like boxing.’ They said it’s too violent. … But they liked the film. That makes it a successful film.”

‘Compelling sports underdog story’ 
Before “When the Bell Rings” had its world premiere, Bores said most of the media was focusing on the documentary about Huey Long, a member of the United States Senate from 1932 until his Sept. 10, 1935 assassination. Nicknamed “The Kingfish,” Long was the governor of Louisiana for four years until he became a senator.

“All the press covered them heavily and we were passed over,” Bores said.

So when his documentary earned the prestigious Jury Award, Bores said: “It was a complete shock in a good way.” “When the Bell Rings” also was screened at the New Hampshire Film Festival with a nomination for the Grand Jury Award.

Bores met Wells, a former boxer, when they worked together in Los Angeles. That’s where Bores was working a variety of production jobs. Wells opened up to him about his violent childhood and his dreams of renewing his relationships with his children.

“When the Bells Rings” follows Wells as he moved to New Orleans to be a part of his youngest son’s life. At the same time, he searched for employment and began a grueling exercise regimen in his hopes of returning to the ring.

The first day of filming was in April 2011. The documentary wrapped in December 2012.

Filmmaker Brad Bores
(Photo by Lindsay Burkett-Yoder)
During that summer, Bores said he discovered “something special” as he witnessed the developing relationship between Wells and his son.

“This could be something big,” Bores recalled thinking. “I saw it was about more than boxing.”

Rachel Lazar, of the New Orleans Film Festival, agreed in her review.

“While this story of Wells’ attempted comeback would make a compelling sports underdog story in its own right, the film suggests that his strength and persistence are, in a way, only the outer marks of a man radically transforming his inner life. Wells is not pining for his glory days, he wants to change into a father,” she wrote.

Bores shot “close to 400 hours of footage” to create his 82-minute documentary.

“The first cut was six hours long,” he said. “It was tough to take out some stuff that I was attached to when I filmed it.”

Bores credits assistant editor Kevin Devore with the editing process and helping choose which scenes made the final cut. They met through the alumni office of Bowling Green State University.

“He was a godsend. It would have taken five years (to make) instead of one year,” said Bores, who graduated from BGSU in 2005 with a bachelor arts in visual communications.

‘Becoming a dad’ 
Bores was asked about Wells’ relationship with his son now.

David "Dino" Wells (right) strikes a pose with his son,
Desmond Osborne. (Photo courtesy of Brad Bores)
“It’s good,” said Bores, who enjoyed watching the two learn how to relate each other as filming progressed.

“He struggles,” Bores said, referring to Wells. “He had never been in his (son’s) life (before this).”

When Wells first met Osborne, Bores said the former boxer seemed more like an uncle to the boy, who was about 9 at the time.

“You saw the whole process of him becoming a dad,” the filmmaker added.

Bores was asked what it means to have “When the Bell Rings” screened at the Sandusky State Theatre.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s something I wanted to do,” he said.

Bores, of Bellevue, Ohio, has appreciated the community’s support while he made the film.

“For me, it’s a night for them to come out and see this film they helped make,” he said.

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