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Stortford teenager Matt exorcises his Covid worries in thought-provoking short film

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Like most young people, the coronavirus lockdowns hit teenager Matthew Goodeve hard, but the germ of an idea from his form teacher proved a turning point.

Matt, 17, of Gilbey Avenue, Bishop's Stortford, had always loved the cinema experience and was a regular visitor to the town's Empire Cinema, and that led to him making his first film at the age of 11.

He told the Indie that his first movie, focusing on anti-bullying and featuring his mum and brother, was "awful", but he had got the bug.

He had already sampled the joy of performing after joining the town's Phoenix theatre school at the tender age of four and that led to him taking to the stage at the former Rhodes Arts Complex as Fat Sam in Phoenix's 2018 production of Bugsy Malone. He was also involved behind the scenes in the Beauty and the Beast panto at the South Road venue.

Fast forward to 2020 and, with the whole world struck by the pandemic, students like Matt found themselves in a terrible limbo, with schools out and friendships on hold.

"It was hard for all of us," said Matt, who attends Saffron Walden County High School. "I was really struggling."

Gilbey Avenue, Bishop's Stortford. Young Film maker Matt Goodeve. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (45001662)
Gilbey Avenue, Bishop's Stortford. Young Film maker Matt Goodeve. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (45001662)

It was then that his form teacher urged him to do something during the February half-term and came up with the idea of him making a film about his experience with Covid.

"The week before half-term I was on it 24/7 – I spent hours and hours working on the film," said Matt.

"At the start I was thinking I might film my family doing nothing, but I always get my thinking cap on."

He mused what people would think if in 15 years' time they saw a film someone had made about Covid-19 and a little gem "Ashes – A Visual Expression" was produced.

Matt filmed scenes around his home town, beginning with a lone runner pounding the streets, with a soundtrack of a news bulletin announcing the lockdown.

The announcement from Boris Johnson compelling people to "stay home and save lives" is the background to more scenes before we hear the Queen's message of hope. The film ends with her now famous statement: "Better days will return – we will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again."

Matt, who was featured in the Indie last April after he lit up his family's front garden pine tree with blue lights in honour of the NHS, said the film had to have a positive message.

"The whole message is it's going to get better," he added, and it made an impact on him that he wasn't expecting.

"I made a film with a message that I really should have been telling myself," said Matt.

Some kind of normality returned with school students going back to the classrooms earlier this month and Matt can now look ahead to his future. He is hoping success in his A-level subjects of film studies, media studies and photography can lead to a place at The Screen and Film School in Brighton.

In the meantime, on return to school his classmates were praiseworthy of the film and his teacher was really impressed.

And if that might be seen as encouragement to Matt he said it was never necessary. "I don't need any encouragement – I think about my films all the time. While other people are playing games online, I'm researching and working on my skills."

You can see Matt's film Ashes – A Visual Expression by checking him out on YouTube.

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