Woe is a new indie horror movie from rising director Matthew Goodhue. We had the pleasure of speaking with the writer/director recently, and are proud to present our conversation about the frightening new film.
I understand that Woe was the first full length feature film you’ve directed. Could you please tell me about how you got started as a filmmaker?
I went to Boston University and I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be in the city, and the school was vast enough that I was able to figure out what I wanted to do while I was there. Film wasn’t really a thing I knew to pursue, or considered pursuing. I love movies, I grew up with three brothers and we watched a ton of stuff.
My mom was also very cool in letting us watch things. She’s a horror fan and she introduced me to Stephen King. She was always reading spooky, horror, thriller stuff. I remember seeing the cover for Silence Of The Lambs in the house. I was totally freaked out, looking at the woman with the moth covering her mouth, and just the name of the movie had me like “What the hell is this?”.
I don’t think I watched it for a while, as I was too freaked out. I also have two older brothers, and when Scream came out, they brought that home. Then I got to watch that and be terrified, and also realize that being scared is really fun.
In school, I took a film course because I thought, “I like movies, I like photography” and I ended up taking a course there. In that class, I was blown away by how people were actually able to talk about movies. It wasn’t just “this movie’s good, this one’s bad, this one’s sad”. Suddenly, colors meant something more. There was more than just what was being said in dialogue, more to what’s happening.
Just going to film school, you get introduced to a lot of movies you probably won’t watch on your own. I quickly learned that I knew very little about film and needed to watch a lot of stuff. The more I watched, the more I ended up falling in love with film. I ended up moving to Los Angeles to pursue it in some capacity.
I started working at a production company, stocking the refrigerator and answering phones. But through that place, I was able to meet producers and directors. I met the crew and visited sets and became very immersed in what it takes to produce a project. The majority of it was commercial and music video stuff, and we did one documentary.
I was quickly thrown into the mix and realized that this is so stressful and difficult, but the process is so fascinating and you get really close to people. At the end of the day, you make something that you hope somebody can connect to.
What advice would you give to someone preparing to direct their first feature film?
If you have doubt, that is completely normal. It doesn’t go away, and I don’t think that any director isn’t fearful driving to set. If you’re beyond the point of thinking about the movie, and you’re ready to go, just do your best to be present every day.
There’s a million things going on around you at once, so it’s easy to get distracted. But if you can find a way to calm yourself and really just focus on the thing in the frame that you’re capturing, you’ll have a much better time.
You’ll be a lot more excited about the end product, as much as there is doubt and self-loathing along the way. Try to be present, and if you’re excited about it in the moment, and you’re there in the moment, and others are responding to it, then there is something there.
FInd a way to be present, whether it’s through just drinking enough water, or giving yourself a few minutes alone before a scene to breathe a little. Find those little ways to ground yourself, because at the end of the day, you’re there to make this movie. You have to put all the other stuff behind you and focus on what’s happening.
As you are not only the director, but also the writer of Woe, I was hoping you could tell me about how the film’s story first came together.
I worked on a short film with DP Michael Lincoln, two of the actors, Ryan Kattner and Adam Halferty, and makeup and production design Michelle Elizabeth and Alicia Doroteo. We all made this very little short film that we enjoyed, and it brought us together. We liked what we made and felt that we should make something else.
Adam Halferty and Ryan Kattner and I got together and were like, “We should make another short film or music video”. We came up with the idea of a character driving a casket into the distance. We were like, “That’s funny, and weird, and kind of dark. Like, what’s that person doing?”.
Just with that image, I started writing. I didn’t really know what it was or where it was gonna go. The movie deals a lot with mental illness and ignoring it, and what that can do to a family and people over time. That was something that personally I was dealing with and trying to get through and trying to figure out.
It felt so impossible at the time, and writing was a way for me to keep asking questions about what I was going through, and then formulate that into a story that would hopefully be interesting to watch. So I would work on the script, then send it to Ryan, Adam and Michael, and we would get together in a diner. They would tell me what they liked, what they hated, and they would give ideas, then I would go back and write.
This went on for about a year while I was trying to shape this thing into something coherent. Eventually, we got to the end, and we all decided that it was time to make this thing. The movie had really evolved, and I had some money stashed away, and the timing just felt right.
[Click on Page 2 for more from Woe director Matthew Goodhue.]