The beautiful clay cliffs of Aquinnah serve as a backdrop for a film shoot later this summer as the producers and crew of the new movie “Hi.” come to the Island. The Times spoke with the Austin, Texas-based producer/director/actress Olivia Nash and producer Christopher Gaunt about the film a few weeks ago. They plan to shoot the scenes in Aquinnah in early August.
Nash describes “Hi.” as a young adult drama that contains three different love stories, as well as a focus on families, forgiveness, love, and mental health awareness. Nash wrote the screenplay, directs the film, and plays the main character, Lavender Lark. At just 25, Nash has an arms-length list of credits already.
“I have been an actress since I was 3 years old. I’ve loved film and I’m obsessed with it,” Nash says.
She studied theater arts at the University of Texas and went to business school for the film industry. Nash now runs Fox Adrift production company and is working on two other feature films as well.
Gaunt is a businessman turned film producer and actor who is wholeheartedly enthused about their project.
“I’ve worked with billion-dollar companies, but I got out of that a few years ago. I was always obsessed with good films and good television from a young age, and I’m a sports junkie as well,” Gaunt says. “I go into the deep end very quickly and I’ve completed 17 films, produced 10 or 11. I’ve written screenplays and done features, shorts, commercials, and even a music video. I reach out to maybe one person a year because I feel like I want to be part of a project.”
Gaunt happened upon Nash and her story and he asked her for a synopsis of the project.
“I told my wife that I have to be part of this film,” Gaunt says. “I loved Olivia’s passion for her story. It’s a beautifully written story. There are some projects you want to do and some you feel like you have to do.”
Nash’s character, Lavender, is a college student home for the summer. She’s a pessimist who has shut herself off because of some family trauma that occurred. Lavender meets Dylan, 24, who has already published his first book. They’re both writers and Dylan helps her come out of her shell and grow as a writer and as a person, Nash explained in her synopsis to the Times. Dylan’s dad committed suicide and he stays with his mom, helping her through her grief. The characters are multi-generational and all face obstacles in some form, just like we all do, Nash says.
“I wrote the screenplay during the pandemic,” Nash explained. “This one helped me work through a lot of my own therapy. There are little detours in the film that I’ve worked through and I wanted to help others through them. I wanted to give them something to hold onto, something to keep them going.”
Characters in the film are facing everything from PTSD to suicide to alcohol poisoning to depression and anxiety.
“We look at the outside,” Nash says. “You don’t know what’s going on in the depths of someone and beyond the skin. What lies beneath, how do you deal with those types of things when they present themselves?”
Growing up, Nash said she dealt with tough issues that people don’t like to talk about, and if they do, the topics are glazed over.
“This film is to break that stigma,” she says. “In my high school, there were multiple suicides and deaths and when they happened, the administration would give us information, we could go to the counselor but no one would talk about these people. It was like they were just gone. A lot of the time it comes from a place of discomfort and fear of the unknown. If you don’t understand the topic, it’s because you don’t have education about it, and we don’t want to step on toes. It’s better to get the information out there. This story will talk about these things.”
Gaunt, who vacations on the Island, said that most people go through some sort of mental health issue in their lives, and this film showcases a lot of different kinds of characters going through different aspects of those problems. The film will show viewers that you can still make it through and still have your family and all those things you want, he said.
Nash and Gaunt are looking for support for their production of “Hi.” and welcome visits to their website so people can learn more about the movie and how to help. Look for them in Aquinnah later this summer, and meanwhile, visit their Indiegogo page at indiegogo.com/projects/hi–228#/ or the film’s website at hithemovie.com/ourstory.