Directed by Daniel Jaffe
Dana, like many deplorable New Yorkers, is struggling with her identity. As she leaves her twenties behind, Dana is nowhere close to any form of stability (single, financially irresponsible, and depressed). So, desperate for change, she decides to move home to West Orange, New Jersey where there is space, where time moves slower, where she can save money and work on her choreography, commuting when she needs to teach classes. Yet, like all self deceptive choices we make, it doesn’t go as well as projected. Especially because well, it’s New Jersey.
The idea came from an experience Michelle had when moving in which she went to say goodbye to her local dry cleaner who basically had no idea who she was. They were Canadian and she brought them Tim Horton’s coffee. It was too good. From there, Michelle wrote the first draft (actually in the studio space featured) and we created the narrative around that scene, incorporating our own feelings of failure, invisibility, etc. This to me is what feels important and possibly universal about the piece; how we attribute meaning and hope to a place that might ultimately not reciprocate, especially in New York. I remember moving to the city nine years ago thinking I would have my local friends all over the neighborhood, that I would be surrounded by all this amazing art being made and forward thinking people. While I experience a degree of this today, it certainly wasn’t the utopia I had in my head.
As we were gearing up to make the movie, we thought a lot about the Mike White show Enlightened and Todd Solondz films. These examples seem to so effortlessly fuse tones and feelings. You never quite know what is total farce and what kind of hits home. Dana and her world in many ways are a little excruciating but I think you ultimately kind of feel for her. That internal conflict of how people might respond was sort of the goal all along. We wanted that annoying and optimistic version of ourselves to be difficult but somewhat empathetic. We hope that shows.
In terms of the visuals, Adam (the DP) and I have worked together on many projects to date and sort of have similar visual references for each film. For Goodbye, Brooklyn, the big stylistic decision was having the camera move and slow zooms amidst the awkward more still scenes of her going and saying goodbye to people. We tried to mirror the feeling of some of those '70s Altman movies where there are tons and tons of zooms. We wanted her world (in her head) to feel iconic, like she was this Yvonne Rainer era dance artist trying to start a movement or something. This was also the reason behind the decision to shoot the film in a bit more square of a ratio.
Cutting the movie was extremely difficult. There was a lot of improv during the studio scenes. We were trying to find the best version of the narrative, doing pick up shoots, ultimately taking what we liked about the script and rethinking where it needed to go. It’s a tough film because it’s a bit non linear and episodic. Like many, we lost a lot of perspective in the process but knew there was something there. We eventually brought in an editor (Cecilia Delgado) and she really helped in the long run. I can’t remember if there was a specific discovery in the edit but I do remember watching the movie finally add up to her moment toward the end and thinking, “Woah. It works!” Of course, you never know how people are going to react to a film but I think as a filmmaker you do eventually realize that there is a story and for lack of a better way of thinking about it, that it just works. It’s a great feeling.
If there is something to take away from this movie, I hope that it’s some of the magic we had during production. Michelle is extremely talented and so was everyone we casted. I remember shooting the studio stuff (of which there is so much not featured) and just watching everyone improv. It was so amazing and it was so hard to not laugh. Nobody broke and the camera somehow moved perfectly around the room during certain moments (props to Adam). To me, that was the most exciting part; when everything, the people, camera, etc, just magically aligned. I never could have written or planned those moments. I believe that.
Writer, Director, and Producer | Daniel Jaffe
Writer, Actor, and Producer | Michelle Uranowitz
Cinematographer | Adam Gundersheimer
About the Team
Daniel Jaffe - Writer/ Director/ Producer
Daniel is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, and artist hailing from San Diego, California, currently living in New York City. In 2012, he graduated from NYU's Tisch Film & Television department. During school, he made several short films, shown at Telluride Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, The Ivy, Woods Hole, and Las Vegas. In 2013, he wrote and directed a three episode web pilot for MTV. Currently he’s developing a new short, some web shows, and a feature length film. Also shout to Bryce, his cat.
Michelle Uranowitz - Writer, Actor, and Producer
Michelle is a New York based actor, writer, choreographer and teacher hailing from New Jersey. She has a BFA in acting from NYU Tisch where she currently teaches movement and physical training to actors. As a professional actor, with a heavy background in theatre, she has worked internationally with renowned theatre directors such as Karin Coonrod, Rachel Chavkin, and Tim Carroll. She is a member of On The Rocks Theatre Company, Compagnia de Colombari, and is a longstanding member of the dance collective Julia Crockett & Group. Goodbye, Brooklyn is her film debut and she couldn’t be happier to have its premiere at Slamdance! She dedicates this to her cat, Sadie.
Adam Gundersheimer - Cinematographer
Originally from Chicago-land, Adam graduated from NYU in 2011 with a concentration in cinematography. He has been the cinematographer on over 40 short films, music videos, and documentaries.