Matt Walting’s debut feature “Just Say Goodbye” reemphasizes the importance of reaching out to someone when you’re in need. Released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, the powerful teen drama fixes on a young woman who is out to stop her male friend from following through on his plans to commit suicide. As Walting reveals in this exclusive interview, he hopes the movie leads to more awareness for mental health.
“Just Say Goodbye” releases in select theaters and home entertainment platforms May 10. Matt Walting recently discussed this film via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Tell us about the movie? Where did the idea come from?
Matt Walting (MW): The movie came from my best friend’s mother, who’s also my wonderful co-producer, Layla O’Shea. She wrote the script based off of an experience she had when she was in high school. Fortunately, the help needed was received and everything turns out okay, and Just Say Goodbye toys with that idea, what would it be like if the proper help and support isn’t there.
MM: And, not to pry too much, was mental illness something you’ve dealt with in the past?
MW: Growing up it was never a major factor in my life, but as I started listening to my friends, I realized everyone’s mental health is something that should be taken very, very seriously, and I take my own very seriously now too.
MM: Do you feel there’s a stigma about mental health that it’s not as important as physical health?
MW: Most definitely. Society often focuses on prioritizing the health that’s most perceivable by others, and because people can’t easily see how we’re feeling, we tend to keep it to ourselves, and that can be incredibly unhealthy.
MM: Is it getting better? Do you see more awareness for it now than there used to be?
MW: There’s definitely a lot more discussion and action being taken these days than there used to be, but there’s still a lot more that needs to happen in order to make sure we’re really doing our best with diagnosing, treating, and generally taking care of our mental health.
MM: How does the movie amplify the importance of mental health?
MW: Our goal with this movie is to get people talking about the importance of reaching out for help. Everyone should know that the best thing they can do when they aren’t properly equipped to handle a mental health crisis is to reach out for the proper help.
MM: How hard was it to cast?
MW: I was scared that it was going to be impossible to cast at first, because we made the film on such a limited budget, and couldn’t offer a lot to the cast, but I was eternally grateful when they had just as much passion for the story as Layla and I did.
MM: Will the film be a trigger for those suffering from severe depression?
MW: There’s definitely the possibility. It takes a reverse approach to sharing it’s message, and the film might be very hard to watch for some. But the film encourages individuals to reach out for help if they feel they or someone they know need it.
MM: What would you like to tell people about the movie?
MW: Share the message! Our goal is to get as many people as possible to see the movie and talk about its message with others.
MM: What’s the message of it?
MW: The film communicates the importance of reaching out for help. Jesse insistently states he doesn’t need help and vows Sarah to silence, which is one of the most important aspects of their storyline. And now that the most important method of help Sarah can offer is taken away, she has to choose between keeping her friend’s word, or breaking it for his own safety. We want audiences to see why reaching out, talking about mental health and seeking help is so vital.
MM: What are you up to next? Any plans for another film?
MW: At the moment it’s just full-time film school, so only classwork and very minor projects are coming out of me at the moment, but I’ve been eager to pursue another big project since finishing Just Say Goodbye. I have got the bare bones of another feature or possible series banging around inside my head at the moment, but who knows what will come of it!
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