Written and produced by Caroline Goodall (Schindler’s List, The Dressmaker), The Bay of Silence is a complex thriller that, at its heart, is also an intricately woven narrative on how one deals with grief. Headlined by Claes Bang (The Burnt Orange Heresy) and Olga Kurylenko (To The Wonder), the feature has a refreshing emotional depth that was unexpected. It has been a passion project for Goodall, and she talked to Deepest Dream about her writing and producing journey with The Bay of Silence.
Will (Claes Bang) is madly devoted to his wife Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko), and to outsiders they may look like the perfect couple. When Rosalind leaves their home with their three children, Will ventures out to find her, only to experience a seemingly insurmountable tragedy that should, for all intents and purposes, tear them apart.
Brian Cox (Succession) co-stars as Rosalind’s possessive stepfather and Alice Krige (Ghost Story) is Rosalind’s elusive mother.
The Bay of Silence, directed by Paula van der Oest and based on the novel by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran, is now available via virtual cinemas, VOD, and Digital platforms.
My only complaint in the movie was it needed more Alice Krige! It must have been great to have her as part of your ensemble.
She is the nicest person as well. But also there was more. In fact there was more of Marcia (Goodall’s character in the film). We did a lot of ad-libbing in that scene. We had a whole thing going on about how she is a book writer who has written some racy novels but unfortunately it got cut (laughs). It took a lot of editing – that party scene. There was so much that was in it. She’s just wonderful.
She just nailed it too. This mother who is always affected and it’s never said but it’s probably why she left Milton (Brian Cox). What I love about her performance is there is so much that is buried. When she arrives by the bedside after Claes has managed to get Olga out of there and she’s lying there and he is completely sideswiped. And (Alice Krige) walks in and says “Oh, was she off her medication?”
(Claes) is dealt another blow. So the “A” plot turns into the “B” plot and it’s just “What?” We needed someone like that who could steer the film into the sort of the third act.
This is your first produced screenplay, and I’m wondering if writing has always been a passion for you. Are there more scripts that you have written over the years?
You kind of got it right. Look, haven’t you? Let’s all own up! Where are the ones you wish that hadn’t gotten away? Perhaps you agree, but there are times in your life when you suddenly are inspired by an idea or a thought it takes a lot of time and attention. And then you move onto something else and you might come back to it, and you say “I lost it, I don’t think I can find that place anymore to tell that story.”
So yes, there are a number that I have most certainly that I wouldn’t dust off now. What was interesting with The Bay of Silence was it always haunted me. Like most things, it had its seeds some years ago and then you put it away and then you look at it and (think) “Actually, that’s quite interesting.”
For me as an actor, one of my issues always was I was always writing during the downtime between jobs but there are periods when the jobs were just (time consuming) and also raising children. You’ve always got these secret times, but this is one that would always come back to haunt me. (I thought) “Well if I can do this, maybe I can rest easy. Maybe I can move on to something else.”
But yeah I’ve got a novel I’ve been kicking around. I’ve got two screenplay adaptations. But in the time of COVID, where is that (one story) where we can all go? Actually I do have a nice idea for a comedy set in a large villa in Tuscany (laughs) where all the cast and crew can just spend the summer. That’s my idea. (laughs).
You’re an accomplished actor and collaborator. In general, what is the key to writing and producing your own project?
Quite honestly, I realized early on that in order for me to get a screenplay produced I probably need to be able to know how to produce it. Out of the 85 shows – films and TV shows, whatever you want to call them, that I have been involved with in the last 30 years, 6.5% were written by women.
I’ve done a lot of those TV films where I’m the Prime Minister or the president or the doctor. In the 90s, they used to call them “Women in Jeopardy” films. Have you heard that? Where you were a professional woman but you had a dark past and usually a terrible love life and then something came back to haunt you and you were in danger. They were a genre and they do incredibly well commercially, but they were always written by men as well.
I don’t think I had any delusions. I was also so fortunate that I was given a gift by Steven Spielberg of a career. There I was, I found myself on the set of Hookand with a big dose of Imposter Syndrome. With all these stars in the first 100 million dollar movie ever. I just thought “Well I’m just going to do everything to prove Steven’s faith in me.”
I do remember Kathleen Kennedy who of course is producing all of the Star Wars films and she was Steven’s producer and I was so in awe of Kathy. She had a fantastic line of suits and this perfect sort of hair to her shoulders and was so cool and calm and seemed to know what was going on.
I was a bit terrified to speak to her (laughs). I really wish I had the guts to say “Tell me about what you do. Tell me your story. Here you in the first 100 million dollar movie and you’re producing it. I want to know your journey.” I just didn’t have the guts.
For a long time in Hollywood, to be honest, I don’t think I had the guts. I decided what I had to do was learn it from the boots up. I did go to UCLA in between jobs and do some finance courses and I learned how to storyboard and schedule it the old way with the scripts that we used to do. Before Movie Magic. Everything was on the computer.
It was always there. I always loved the nuts and bolts. I was always the person who wanted to find the camera and see what was going on. Hookwas my Master Class and then of course Schindler’s List. And Disclosure. In the 90s, they were making big studio films that were about things. I was so fortunate that I was able to sit next to a Ridley Scott or a Steven Spielberg or a Barry Levinson and just watch and also be directed by them.
Also Steven Zaillian who wrote Schindler’s List. The level of screenplays that I was allowed to read and be part and to help rework sometimes. We did a lot of improvisation. That’s the wonderful thing about the U.S., you were always allowed to come up with an idea and certainly working with Robin Williams, God rest his soul, Robin was always improvising.
That’s one of the reasons I got the job for Hook. It was can you improvise, because you’re opposite Robin Williams. And I had done some standup comedy in my past on the stage because I had a long stage career. Ten years at the Royal National Theater and the Royal Shakespeare Company before I even made a movie. It was like “Oh yeah, you want me to make it up? No problem!” (laughs). Maybe that was the writer in me as well. Yeah, yeah I’ll make it up.
As a fan of mystery/thrillers, it was refreshing to see a movie that really deals with the themes of grief and trauma in a gutsy manner.
Oh wow thank you. Yes absolutely. There are a few things about the book that really resonates with me. The book – she gave me her blessing to turn it into more of a thriller. It’s a very contemplative book in that way. But it is quite devastating at the same time.
Yes and it was very important for us to find the Will (Claes Bang) who was able to embody that and embody the strength of a man who loved his wife too much almost and would do anything for her. To really have that strength and for audiences to connect with him, there are so many people out there who want their male characters to be strong and sort of almost two dimensional and that wasn’t it going in.
I actually remember when putting it together, some of the comments were “Isn’t he a bit weak?” or “Wouldn’t he just kind of leave?” We even played around with that idea where there would be a moment where he just actually thought about it. Then we thought that’s completely wrong, this man would never do that.
Grief forces you to do the strangest things but he made his decision and he was going to stick by that decision. And I think there are many men out there like that and I do think that’s why this film will resonate with me. We’re talking about sexual abuse and a woman who really suffers and usually you see this from a woman’s point of view.
What was interesting was let’s see it through his eyes because he is our yardstick of morality. We can trust him. Set him up, so we can trust him. If someone is intrinsically mad, they are an unreliable narrator – you’re not going to trust them and that’s not the film I’m writing.
I love features. (In) 90 to 120 minutes we’re able to encompass that in our head and we remember them. That for me is why, to me, feature film is so important.
TV is great and we’re getting wonderful series and amazing writing but I can’t keep them in my mind. (Films) are three act structures and that’s why we go back to them again and again. They are like a good book and we are able to grasp them.
Caroline thank you for your time, good luck with The Bay of Silence and keep on writing!
Well thank you so much for calling. I’m really grateful. Thank you.
On the latest Find Your Film podcast, we discuss the new film Spree, Eric Holmes reviews the Abel Ferrara feature Ms. 45 and Bruce Purkey talks about Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath: