It’s a wait made worthwhile. After the blood, sweat, and tears of production, David Branin and Karen Worden (the Dynamic Duo of Indie Film that comprise Film Courage) brought Goodbye Promise to life at the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles on June 1st. The premier brought out strong supporters of indie film and those that appreciate the finer points of storytelling through filmmaking. I happen to fall under both categories, and my six hour drive from Gilbert, Arizona to catch the premiere was definitely worth the journey.
The last film I saw directed by David Branin was Night Before the Wedding. A gritty and real film in its own right, the only common thread between Wedding and Promise that stood out to me was the “realness” of what was portrayed.
Goodbye Promise follows Matt who has moved out to LA to “make it” as an actor. He’s given himself seven years to become a working actor and only days mark the anniversary of his promise to make it or quit by that time. What seems to be a race against the seven year deadline slowly and grandly blossoms in to an elegant and rich bouquet of friendships born and lives touched by Matt during his years in LA. At the core of Goodbye Promise is a message that one can staunchly stick to a goal for the sake of being professional or practical, but passion that is all consuming, even if it slowly bubbles under the surface, will always reign supreme.
Matt’s “goodbyes” to various friends and colleagues seem more like he is seeking some assurance that he has made the right decision in choosing to leave acting after his seven years of less-than-stellar results. Gregor Collins (who also co-wrote and produced) in his best role yet, admirably and convincingly weaves a tale of an actor who has loved, who has lost, who has tried and struggled, and still has so much to give to the industry if only given the chance. His portrayal of Matt is real, gritty, lovable, humorous, touching and above all, true to its heart. Some of the things that happen to Matt in the film could certainly be the experience of any actor or actress who tries to tackle Tinseltown. But what makes these experiences shine is the way Gregor interacts with his co-stars. At no time during Goodbye Promise does the viewer feel that they are anything other than a fly on the wall hanging on every interaction between Matt and those to whom he is saying goodbye.
Goodbye Promise had a number of genius moments that perhaps were not intended, or maybe they were. One moment in particular stood out as a benchmark. After many nights of sleeplessness at the hands of his noisy, party-throwing upstairs neighbor, Matt chases down his neighbor’s car to confront him and his “I don’t give a shit” antics. (In a bit of absolutely perfect casting, Johnny Giordano makes the character of Vincent an arrogantly beautiful performance.) The completely clever and hilarious scene is something straight out of an ‘Entourage’/’Seinfeld’ mash up. Matt and Vincent ultimately emerge as compadres via circumstance, each finding and accepting their common ground. (The obviously missing product placement by Nike is an example of one reason I love indie film–No company shoving their products down our throat….)
Astonishingly, Goodbye Promise was done almost entirely improv. Scriptless. Who does such a thing and can pull it off with such seamlessness? Director David Branin did with a dedicated group of actors, and did it brilliantly. Every bit of dialogue and action was believable. Even the city of LA itself took on its own character and plays a wicked, yet undeniably enticing lover, just as it does in real life to anyone trying to make it in show business.
Film Courage has shown it has the guts and the brawn to offer one of the most real and very clever looks at the life of a would-be actor in Goodbye Promise. This could have easily been a mainstream film with huge, A-list actors and Steven Soderbergh at the helm. However, it feels more real and honest as an indie film with Gregor Collins shining through in a way that is totally non-pretentious, nor contrived.
The COURAGE to make the FILM. Film Courage did all the right things with Goodbye Promise and delivered on their name. The courage to make it the best, the most believable, the most touching, poignant, engrossing or gritty. This is where true film is born. Kudos once again to David Branin, Karen Worden and a wonderful cast and small crew for providing a gem of a film and encouraging all other indie filmmakers, actors and production and support personnel to never deny their life’s passion.
Lynette Carrington is the Lifestyle Editor for Arizona Sports & Lifestyle Magazine and frequent contributor to various other lifestyle, entertainment and business publications across the United States and online. In the past she has been Manager and Publicist for internationally-known artist Ruby Mazur and currently is the Publicist for Actor, Anthony Ingruber. A life-long fan of film, she loves to support all forms of entertainment and covers the acting and support talent that continues to provide such a rich diversity in television, stage, music, art and film.