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Interview with Abner Pastoll director of A Good Woman is Hard to Find
By James Whittington, Tuesday 27th August 2019
A few years back we met director Abner Pastoll at the world premiere of his thriller, Road Games. 2019 and he's back with his new movie, A Good Woman is Hard to Find so we caught up with him just before its premiere at FrightFest 2019.
HC: We first met when you unleashed the "killer of a thriller" Road Games, what have you been up to since then?
AP: Making this new film! And trying to stay alive.
HC: How did you become connected to A Good Woman is Hard to Find?
AP: I was looking for a writing partner to collaborate with. My producer knew a great agent so reached out to him, asking for writing samples from some of his clients. One of those 'samples' happened to be a script entitled 'A Good Woman Is Hard to Find' by Ronan Blaney. It blew me away. Not only was this a writer I wanted to collaborate with but I wanted to make this script into a movie immediately. I had to find out what was happening with it. It turned out that not only had Ronan just recently finished writing the draft but that I was one of the first people to even read it. It all came together from there.
HC: Were you involved in all the casting?
AP: Yes! I could only see Sarah Bolger in this role when reading the script. So I was absolutely thrilled she responded to the character. We really connected. She's so clever - a brilliant actor. Andrew Simpson was my lead in Road Games and I thought it would be great to continue our collaboration. He's far more talented than people give him credit for. His role in this film is the polar opposite to the one in Road Games and I just loved the idea of showing a different side to his acting abilities. He really shines in this movie. My good friend Edward Hogg jumped on board the minute I said I had a role for him. Jane Brennan I'd admired from several films including Brooklyn, she's great. Then working with Belfast-based casting director Carla Stronge, we held casting workshops to find the kids - Rudy Doherty and Macie McCauley. I was also thrilled to discover some incredible Irish talent - Sean Sloan, Susah Ateh, Siobhan Kelly - just fantastic. Casting was probably the simplest process of the whole production. Everything else was a nightmare. That was a really long answer to your simple question. I should have just said 'yes.'
HC: Did the cast have much time to rehearse as each give superb, fully rounded performances?
AP: We hardly had any rehearsal time at all. Our schedule was insanely tight. Sarah Bolger was involved in the project for eighteen months before the shoot however, so in a sense we had quite a significant amount of time to discuss what we were doing, what we wanted to do. I had already worked with Andrew and Edward so there was that shorthand in place. By pure luck everyone and everything clicked. Sarah really carries this movie. Her dedication to the role really shows.
HC: Without giving too much away, which sequence was the hardest to shoot?
AP: Everything. Every day. Every scene. Every frame. It was all hard. A good film is hard to make. I can think of maybe one moment in the cemetery where it was slightly less hard but that's only because it was a lighter day and we didn't have a million pages to get through.
HC: This is urban horror/terror at its most raw, do you think certain elements seen on the film do go on in real life?
AP: I wouldn't be surprised. I think for the most part it's very realistic. Some things we've deliberately heightened, but the real world is always crazier, scarier and stranger than fiction.
HC: How difficult was it to keep the tension cranking up throughout the movie?
AP: It's one of those things that's hard to articulate. It's just based on a feeling when you're piecing it together. It all comes together in the acting, in the pacing of the edit and most significantly for me, with the music. It's something you find as you put it together. I'll be editing in my head as I shoot and get a very good general sense of what's working but you can never be totally sure until you see it all together. I'm not sure I'd say it's either easy or difficult. It's just a feeling you have to go with.
HC: The movie is very dark, what was the atmosphere like on set?
AP: We were always up against time, so it was stressful in that sense. A lack of sleep and I could hardly eat from being so focused. But we had the most amazing cast and crew. It was a very chilled out and fun set, filled with laughter and jokes. We had our ups and downs, our director of photography tripped down stairs and injured his back and our focus puller broke his ankle! It was insane what everyone went through to get this film made. Always got to find time to laugh though!
HC: The film is closing FrightFest 2019, are you nervous?
AP: I'm not nervous at all. I love this film. I'm very excited for everyone to see it. After Frightfest it's hitting cinemas in the UK and Ireland on October 25 thanks to Signature Entertainment.
HC: So, what are you working on at the moment?
AP: I'm continuing to collaborate with Ronan Blaney on a couple of projects - one is a very unique and compelling horror film, and some other stuff. I have a crazy fun action thriller set in the desert that I wrote that I'm super excited about. I can't say too much else about anything yet but I'll leave you with a hint that our Good Woman Sarah's story might not be over yet...
HC: Abner Pastoll, thank you very much.
AP: Anytime! Thank you.
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