During the summer of 2007, Brian Rish sent his sister Jocelyn Rish an email that said, “Check out this crazy story about a death predicting cat.” The link in the email led to a CNN story about Oscar, a cat who lives in a Rhode Island nursing home and has accurately predicted the deaths of more than fifty residents. Jocelyn began to imagine how their maternal grandmother, who had recently passed away in a nursing home, would have reacted to such a cat. Those imaginings prompted her to write Saying Goodbye, a short story about a woman at the end of her years learning to accept the loss of her loved ones as well as her own impending death. The story was one of the winners of the 2008 South Carolina Fiction Project.
Brian got the ball rolling again when he suggested turning the short story into a short screenplay. Since they had collaborated on scripts previously, and usually with minimal bloodshed, it was a pretty quick process to turn Saying Goodbye into a script.
Saying Goodbye is the story of Alma, a woman whose entire family is killed by a drunk driver, which causes her to move into a southern nursing home, lonely and without hope. Eunice, her spunky new neighbor, befriends Alma and encourages her to enjoy living again. Soon this dynamic duo are kicking up their heels and entertaining the residents and staff with their antics. Even when Eunice is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they maintain their determination to live life to the fullest. But this nursing home is special: a cat with the uncanny ability to predict death prowls the halls. When he sets his sights on the two women, their carpe diem spirit is put to the test.
The SC Film Production Fund
Saying Goodbye is being made as part of the SC Film Commission’s Film Production Fund.
The goal of the Production Fund is to instill collaboration between filmmakers and SC institutes of higher education that have film production programs resulting in the professional development of SC students and professionals alike. The industry benefits by having a ready-to-work crew in SC; graduates benefit by being better prepared to gain employment; and the state of South Carolina and its people benefit from the income and the prominence generated by a successful in-state entertainment industry.
Saying Goodbye collaborated with both the University of South Carolina (the “real” USC) and Trident Technical College to give as many students as possible a chance to work on a real movie set. Nineteen students from USC and five students from TTC joined the crew and were partnered with both local and nationally credited professionals to learn from the experts and gain hands-on experience in filmmaking.
Brian Rish is a 1999 graduate of the University of South Carolina, where he earned a BA in Advertising and a minor in Film production. He got involved with producing while working for the South Carolina Education Lottery during its start-up phase. From dancing Powerballs to resurrecting Bishopville’s infamous Lizard Man, Brian enjoyed following the Lottery’s mantra of “gaudy is good!” Brian currently works as an Advertising Strategist for a Fortune 500 company by day and as a filmmaker by night.
Jocelyn Rish graduated from Duke University with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Computer Science. After almost ten years working for a software company, she decided to take a risk and pursue writing full time. Saying Goodbye was her first published short story. She then won the 2009 Highlights fiction contest with a story called Seeking a Hidden Hive, which will be published in the July 2011 issue of Highlights magazine. Jocelyn is also working on several young adult novels.
Jocelyn and Brian have also written several feature length screenplays together, including a creature feature and an action thriller, which have finished well in several writing contests.
The Production Partner
Brian worked with Cliff Springs, the owner of Genesis Creative, on several past projects. Genesis Creative is a marketing firm that offers full-service creative and strategic planning, as well as a complete spectrum of high-end media production services in-house from their impressive studio.
When Brian asked Cliff if he wanted to be part of the project, Cliff jumped right on board since it complimented his plan to launch Emergent Films, a program to grow the film industry in South Carolina. Cliff directed the film and his employees provided their expertise in many of the key roles.
Working with our team of experienced professionals, we created a touching short film that demonstrates the high quality work the Palmetto State is capable of producing. We also helped train the future filmmakers of South Carolina, since many of our students have already joined studio productions around the country. We are so proud of the great work they are doing!