by Faruq Oyekan
When a filmmaker attempts to mix tragedy and humor, it can turn out downright atrocious. It can either be too offensive or not offensive enough, too tasteless or not tasteless enough. But, when it is done right, such as with the short film I had the pleasure of viewing this week, it can be downright brilliant.
Good Grief is a hilarious dark comedy, directed by Jim Owens and written by Rachel Stubbings.
Like the title suggests, Good Grief tells the tale of a father and daughter who are reunited upon the discovery that their mother has passed away.
What happens next in Good Grief is not your typical story of daughter father bondage or even a story of typical grieving. What happens instead is an extremely amusing and somewhat NSFW turn of events that will leave you smiling.
It is during this NSFW turn of events that this film truly picks up, and the comedy aspect of this short begins to reveal itself.
For anyone who loves a short film that is full of charm, and down to earth relatable characters I highly recommend this short. Alexander Kirk through his acting, and Rachel Stubbings both through her acting and writing create intriguing characters that both have their own sets of quirks and defining traits. Good Grief will leave you wanting more from these characters and their lives as a whole.
Good Grief is certainly not an experiment in cinematography or mise en scene, instead it is a story driven narrative. The dialogue is key to its humor, and the acting is important to its delivery.
For this interview, unlike with others I had the special opportunity to interview the writer and lead actress of this short Rachel Stubbings.
How did you come up with the idea for this short?
Originally the idea was a TV pitch for a 10 minute episode I'd been asked to write. Jim Owen, who I work with a lot, read an early treatment and said "When they say no to this, because it’s too dark, let’s make it together." That's what we did.
How did you get started writing?
I already had a treatment with detailed character descriptions of Molly and Albert so writing the script was a joy. The tone, the mood, it all felt very clear to me.
Was any part of the film's premise inspired by real life events?
Yes and no. My Mum doesn't frequent sex parties, to my knowledge. But I have been unfortunate enough to have lost a few dear people. I remember a friend’s funeral where everyone got hammered at the wake, got loose tongued and secrets I'm sure my friend wanted to take to the grave came out. There was a lot of hurt people with nowhere to direct their anger. Grief if useless, too big to get your head round. It all went into Good Grief in one way or another.
In your opinion what was the hardest part of making this film?
I know its boring, but probably doing it without any money. It was all favours from kind people. Our Director of Photography, Paul Bamford, knew he'd have to leave at any given moment because his wife's baby was due. That was all quite difficult. She waited, thankfully.
Any interesting onset stories? I'm really curious on how you got your hands on all those raunchy photos!
That is a secret that will stay with our art department!
I noticed you also play the lead in this short. How did this come about? Have you always been an actor/writer?
I was always writing this short with myself playing Molly. I'm mainly cast in comedy roles and I really wanted to do some gritty sh*t, who better to write my lines, than me? I love acting and writing in equal measures and have been doing both for as long as I can remember really. I also knew who I would get to play my Dad as I was writing it - Alex Kirk is a tremendous actor and we took to the father, daughter relationship with ease.
So anything planned for the future? Any projects you'd like to share?
Got loads of stuff in the pipe lines including some more short film ideas. I am also hosting a short film night called Shooting The Breeze on the 27th of October at Shortwave Cinema in Bermondey. It's basically a self indulgent night where I get to play some of my favourite little movies - can't wait!
Any advice to fellow filmmakers?
Don't compromise, just make the film you want to make.