Rob Atkinson: Impresario branching out into films

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From his base in Wakefield, murder mystery impresario Aidey Pugh is now branching further out into the world of film with his 55-minute latest production “The Goodbye Girl” having its premiere in Leeds tomorrow.

Aidey is a writer and a director, but also acts, having recently appeared alongside Tom Binns in BBC1’s Comedy Playhouse ‘Hospital People’. ‘The Goodbye Girl’ is the sequel to his short film ‘Empty Spaces’ which has been shown at film festivals abroad, including an appearance as a finalist in a Miami Film Festival this year.

All of this is accomplished with minimal budgets that go almost entirely on film kit. The film projects rely heavily on voluntary input, with Aidey’s hard-working, dedicated cast and crew, all local to West Yorkshire, kindly giving their time, skills and expertise for free. Even so, the cast features an appearance by Max Vento – only four years old when the film was shot – who is now the child star and lead of BBC1’s “The A Word” about a young boy diagnosed as autistic.

The West Yorkshire identity of the film is spiced with a hint of the cosmopolitan in that musicians and bands from Switzerland, Berlin, Miami, Orange County, Los Angeles, Cape Coral, San Diego, and even Tel Aviv in Israel have all generously allowed their music to be used, lending an international flavour to an unashamedly gritty Yorkshire production.

There is also what Aidey himself describes as “an extraordinary central performance” from young Millie-Grace Guy, the eponymous six-year old Goodbye Girl herself, who has amazed all involved in the production with her presence on camera and her ability to carry off such a demanding role. Aidey’s contribution to the area’s artistic output has been considerable enough over the past few years, with his murder mystery company Murder One going from strength to strength. Not only has Murder One’s cast of professional actors travelled the length and breadth of the country, putting on events in a variety of settings and locations, they have also been called upon to work abroad, with their skills in demand as far afield as India and Pakistan.

It would seem that the Yorkshire brand of murder mystery is very popular and Aidey provides employment to a pool of talented local actors – but things have not always run so smoothly in his film endeavours, with this latest and most ambitious production encountering a variety of snags and problems.

“The Goodbye Girl” project has been a long hard path to tread, with the major obstacle of the theft of some film kit and raw footage having to be overcome by the reshooting of certain scenes, which in turn meant having to wait almost a year to do this, as weather conditions had to be taken into account for the continuity of the film.

The delay was so long that some locations used in the film are not even there anymore; Wakefield’s famous city centre underpass has since been filled in, and the well-known Snooty Fox pub, where several scenes were shot, has now closed down. But Aidey remembers thankfully the co-operation of businesses and local residents when the crew and cast were working on scenes, with one window-cleaner even altering his round so as not to impede shooting.

The tagline of “The Goodbye Girl” offers a clue to the sinister nature of the film’s central character: “Pray she doesn’t tell you Goodbye” – as well as to the chillingly convincing performance of young Mille-Grace Guy. The premiere, at The Hyde Park cinema in Leeds tomorrow, will be attended by the cast, crew and press invitees only, but will then be sent to film festivals worldwide, before being uploaded to www.murder-one.com/thegoodbyegirl where there’s more info, publicity stills and behind the scenes photos.

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