Goodbye (2004)

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The idea for Goodbye came from Ashvin-Kumar Joshi. He had just lost his uncle to Cancer. He wanted to do a story about losing someone, about moving on after a loved one's death. As we had gotten on so well, Ashvin came to me with his idea.

The story is about husband who is haunted by his dead wife, who wants him to move on with his life. The husband comes back from meeting another woman and his wife asks him how it went. We make it that you are not sure if the wife is really there or not. The scene where she is asking how the date went, I shot it that both husband and wife are on the same side of the screen. It was my way of showing that he was really talking to himself. Later on, the husband comes back from a second date and the wife tells him that it's time for her to move on now that her husband has found someone to be happy with. We end with the husband laying flowers on his wife's grave and saying goodbye.

We wrote 4th drafts of the script. Ashvin wrote the first 2 drafts of the script. I wrote the last two. The story and dialogue was mostly Ashvin's, but I added little things like the super8 footage at the beginning. I had written a scene that follows it, with the husband watching the footage with a projector, but we dropped it in the end. The last draft of the script was finished in November 2003.

Casting wise, Ashvin was going to play the part of Brandon. The part of the wife, Jenny, was played by Stephanie Street, who Ashvin has acted with in the past. Stephanie was played by Frida Show (she is now known as Frida Farrell). Frida we found through casting. We put an advert out on Shooting People and got a big reply. Ashvin knew a place we could hold auditions, the London Welsh Centre. Ashvin had attended auditions there and the prices were reasonable. It was my first time holding auditions having an actor there for the other actors to act with. (It's a practice I continue to this day) It certainly helped to get the best out of the other actors.

Discussing the shot with Matteo

There was two funny things that happen during those auditions. The first thing that happened was that we were interviewed by an actress. She walked right in, grabbed the chair and pushed it right next to the table. She then started to ask us a whole load of questions. Who we where? Why were making this film? It was very comfrontational. The second thing that happened was we had another actress come in and start doing breathing exercises in front of us. When she came through the door, she was nice and we chatted, then we went to do the scene and she asked if she could get ready. As we are both nice people, we said it was alright. She started to do breath in and out very heavily. Throwing her arms up in the air. Stretching. Once the scene was over, and she had left, Ashvin and me burst in laughter. I was expecting her to be great, but it was terrible. We couldn't stop laughing for a good 5 minutes. It's safe to say that those two actresses didn't get cast. Now when an actor asks me if they can prepare in an audition, I tell them no. If you need to do breathing exercises or stretches, do it before the audition.

I had some of my crew from Blocked join us on this film. So Matteo Prezioso returned as DOP, Gabriela Gower returned to do costumes, Ion Zubizarreta as Gaffer and Danielle Loosli as continuity. Joining us this time was Nikkie Grimshaw to do makeup, Rishi Opel as Camera Operator, Simon Colley as Runner, Kevin and Borsci Masterson as Stills Photographers, and Paul Sheeky as Sound Recordist. (Yes, we got a sound recordist on this one!)

The first thing we shot was the super8 footage. I was able to borrow a super8 camera from a friend. Ashvin, Stephanie and me went down to Clapham Common and film around there. We just filmed the two of being a married couple, having a nice day at the park. Thankfully it was a bright day, so the footage looked good. I got the footage processed and I was able to project the footage onto a white wall and I shot it with a small DV camera my parents owned.

We decided to shoot over three days, starting on Friday evening and finishing on Sunday. For my last two shoots before this (Good Cop Dead Cop, Blocked) these days worked well for shooting. It means that we don't have to try and cram everything into 2 days. Friday evening we shot at Andrew Lawden's place in Camden. We shot the bulk of the film there, making it look like two locations. I remember that Frida couldn't find the place and I had to go get here from Camden Town tube station.

Paul Sheeky chilling by the window

We filmed all the exterior scenes around Camden. Brandon and Nicole go out for a meal, so we follow them on their journey, but we don't actually see the date. We couldn't get permission to shoot anywhere, so we had to shoot gurellia style. We filmed Ashvin and Frida walk into a pub and got them to stand near a window. The landlord started to notice we were filming outside, when our actors walked into the pub for the third time. Someone came out to tell us to stop filming, but we had finished shooting by then and was packing up. We had got the shot.

After that we returned back to Andrew's place to film Brandon and Nicole coming back from their date scene. Andrew had a big mirror in his living room, that would catch all of our reflections. In the end we had to take it off the wall. As we were filming that scene, the last ever episode of Sex And The City was playing, and Frida would watch it with Andrew in between setups. I refrained from watching, as I had no interest in that show. But I do remember laughter coming out of Andrew's room in between takes.

Sturady we returned to Camden to shoot all of the scenes with Ashvin and Stephanie. We moved into Andrew's bedroom and filmed scenes in there. Then we used the bathroom for the shaving scene. It was so small in there, that there was just enough room for the actors and Paul the sound recordist. Matteo had to shoot the scene from the doorway. We got a lot shot in that day.

Sunday we had three locations to shoot in. The first location was on the South Bank for Brandon and Nicole's first meeting. I wanted to shoot outside the NFT, but it would of cost me a thousand pounds for permission to film there. The South Bank is privately owned land, and they had a lot of big productions shoot there, who could afford those kind of prices, but that was the whole of our budget. It wasn't an option, so we moved down the South Bank towards Tower Bridge.

We set up in front of City Hall, hoping nobody would notice us. Alas, we were spotted by a security guard, who bounded over to us. He asked us who we were and what were we shooting. I did't know what to say, but our camera operator, Rishi, did. He said we were students. And the security guard said that's ok and walked away. Amazing. I never had a confrontation again like that, but next time I know what to say.

At the Sutton Film Festival

We got all the shots we needed and we moved away from the river to a coffee bar, where we filmed Ashvin and Frida sitting outside. Once we got those shots, Frida was wrapped. I have never seen someone leave so fast. As soon as we said she was done, she waved goodbye to us all and left. I never saw Frida again after that. I was able to send her a copy of the film for her showreel, but that was it. Looking at IMDB she has had quite a successful acting career, appearing in films and TV over in the states.

Once Frida was gone, we had to move the entire production over to Heston. It took over an hour to get there through Sunday traffic. Thankfully we didn't have much to do. We first had to film a scene of Brandon entering the house. We filmed this at his place. 3 setups and we were done. Then we moved to the church graveyard. Ashvin had gotten permission for us to film there. (The only exterior we had permission to film) We were going to film a few lines at a grave, lay some flowers and that was going to be it, but Matteo came up with the idea for the final shot of Brandon walking away from the grave. In my opnion it works very well, even though we didn't have a dolly and track.

That last shot marked the end of the shoot. Both Ashvin and me were very happy with what we had shot. We then moved onto post production, where I edited the film. Music this time was written and performed by Nikos Pandis. I had put out an advert on and he was one of the replies I got. I liked his music a lot. When I was editing, I had used a temp track for the final scene. It was the beginning of This Woman's Work by Kate Bush. I remember showing Nikos the scene with temp track on it and he did a track where he wailed on it. Very amusing, but not what we were after.

We also got to work with Doug Haywood on the sound design. We had found Doug again on I wasn't able to work with James Berkeley on this one. As I was shooting Goodbye, I was going to shoot When The Chips Are Down with James afterwards, so he was busy editing and mixing that film. Doug did a great job, but I was only able to work with him on this film.

The finished film did really well. We had screenings of it at festivals around the world. We showed it at the Sutton Film Festival, where I got to meet the organiser Marq English. (Who went onto appear in my feature, Blood + Roses) Both Ashvin and I was very happy with the finished film and we would go on to make another film together called Kareem's Vengeance.