WOODS HOLE — On a hot and sunny afternoon last week, the independent feature movie "Hi." was being filmed with Nobska Lighthouse standing tall in the background.
The setting was standing in as a cliff that is a special place to the movie's main character, and that she returns to throughout the story, according to producer/production manager Lindsey Goodwin. The lighthouse and surrounding area created the varying tones and moods — from happiness to frustration to feeling connected — that the filmmaker was looking to depict, she said.
"Hi." is directed, produced and written by star Olivia Nash, the owner of Fox Adrift Productions, an Austin, Texas-based film company. She and her team were due to wrap up this weekend after three weeks of filming in the Falmouth area, including at a house and various outdoor locations.
More of the movie — which Nash hopes will help reduce the stigma of mental illness for young adults — is being filmed in the Austin area, with a planned late 2022 release date.
The pitch of the story is to capture "Manchester by the Sea" meets "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." The themes of the movie include forgiveness, love, coming of age, mental health awareness, discovery and more.
The crew was on Cape Cod because Nash saw it as a perfect backdrop for certain aspects of the story, and because of personal connections for some people involved with the film.
The story follows Lavender Lark (Nash), a college student who wants to be a published writer. She has conflicts with her parents, though, and Lavender "builds up emotional walls to prevent heartbreak," according to the pitch presentation for the film.
Her love interest, Dylan Odair (Paul Grant), is a published author who stays home rather than going to college to take care of his mom while they deal with his father's suicide. Other characters include brother Daniel (Chase Pollock), who wants to be a writer like his sister and mother but also "experience life to the fullest in order to have material to write about"; father Peter (Charles Edwin Powell), a baker and painter who was in a car accident that broke his family apart; and Katie (Floriana Azemi), Daniel's love interest who gives him his first experiences with love, trust and betrayal.
On the Woods Hole set, Nash said she chose the Cape as one of the filming locations because in her head, it was always a writers' retreat, and the aesthetic matched the Lark family of writers.
"It fit with the peacefulness that we needed to find. The water and the beach just brings out parts of the characters, as well as the homes here," Nash said. "The driving force here is the peacefulness."
A film crew works with writer/director/actress Olivia Nash last week for her first feature film, which included three weeks of shooting in and around Falmouth.
Love and forgiveness
Nash described the film as a young adult drama that takes place in a coastal village. "It's three different love stories — from parent age, to college age, to teens — ... (with an additional theme of) finding forgiveness in yourself," she said. "We focus on two families, the Lark family and the Odair family, coming together and working through their past traumas and growing as people."
The movie focuses on "moving on and moving forward," Nash said, about how the past is not something that should determine your future but instead it is a part of you and your growth process.
"Hi." also explores various types of mental illness, such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, to try to break the stigma of talking about mental illness.
"A lot of this film is making sure that we can show that people live with it and you can still keep moving forward," she said.
Nash, who began acting in community theater at age 10 or 11 but taught herself screenwriting after college, said she wrote "Hi." while in lockdown during the pandemic as a form of therapy. She included certain things that have happened to her in her own life. She said she wanted to make a film that could be there for someone when they needed it — like some films, including "Moulin Rouge," helped her as a young adult.
"And so that's what 'Hi.' is — it's for that one person that truly needs that film and they can relate to it," Nash said. "So I was focusing on that, but also working through my own stuff as well."
Coming back to the Cape
Being on the Cape has been part of that journey. One local connection is actor/producer Chris Gaunt, who has spent part of each summer for the past 20 years in Falmouth with his wife and two children.
Another connection is Goodwin, who was born in Falmouth, grew up in Brewster and moved to various locations after high school.
Nash and Goodwin met through a mutual friend, the two clicked and Nash told her to come on board to make the film.
"It's been quite a ride, but it's been fabulous," first-time producer Goodwin said.
Goodwin said both her jobs involve logistical details, such as coordinating with locations, making sure people get paid, making sure everybody is where they are supposed to be when they're supposed to be, and negotiating money and contracts.
"At first, (I got involved) for the experience and then I just fell in love with the story," Goodwin said. "Olivia gave me the script to read, I read it and I was just like, 'This is something I would like to be a part of and make it beautiful and bring it to life.'"
While making the film has been hard work, the reward has been watching the footage that has been shot, she said. Visually seeing "what we've created is just so inspiring, so that celebration is my favorite part" of the job, Goodwin said.
A 'film family'
Nash said she has loved movies since she was about 3 years old, when she was obsessed with watching them over and over again.
Nash went to business school, intending to learn the business side of the film industry, but leaned toward the writing she'd been doing while growing up, and has written three feature films.
She also directed two short films, to dip her toes in that aspect of filmmaking, before making this first feature film.
Filming so far has been going really well, Nash and Goodwin said last week. The whole team considers themselves a "film family," so Nash said it has been fun to work with eveyone and create what she considers a beautiful work of art.
"Working with the actors has been phenomenal, they're all amazing actors and have really been putting in a lot of hard work and hours and making sure that the story is told," Nash said.
Grant calls the group "the dream team." He is from Austin, and has been performing on stage as a musician since age 12 before moving to Los Angeles in 2016. He started out doing commercial acting and that led to short films and feature films.
He knew Nash, and was one of the first people to read the script for "Hi." "I loved the script and I loved the characters and I think I just wanted to work with her more," Grant said. During the filming, he has enjoyed the feeling of victory when the actors "nail their parts" in a scene and he said he is excited to share the film and hear what parts of the story and characters viewers connect with.
Nash, Goodwin and Grant all say they love Cape Cod and have all enjoyed working here.
Nash has appreciated the gorgeous scenery and the chance to be in Woods Hole, while Grant talks about the beach, the weather and the chance to eat oysters and mussels every day.
"The Cape is magical," Goodwin said. "I'm from here, so I know."
To contact the "Hi." team for information or possible donation: email@example.com.
Cape Cod Times