MEET THE FILMMAKER: Michael Mathews.
Michael Mathews has screened some of the most unusual works seen to date down at The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP). He’s made movies about just about everything, including docs about the guys who paint stripes in parking lots and narrative films featuring shopping carts. Michael is showing Red Nose State at the January 17th EFP down at Denver’s historic Bug Theatre (3654 Navajo St.)
More than that, Michael is one of the good guys in town. He’s generous with his time and shares his vast knowledge with anybody smart enough to listen. Michael and EFP Host Patrick Sheridan go way back, having been part of the the now-defunct Group101 Denver, a filmmaking collective that encouraged and supported aspiring filmmakers to “get off their ass” and make movies.
Patrick recently had a chance to catch up with Michael.
M.M.: I had an original Honeywell Pentax when I was 6, took pictures and developed/printed in my bedroom from early on. I still have every negative I’ve ever taken. I took tons of photos for High Schools all over the area. I got paid for pics of all the sports events, when I wasn’t playing on a team myself. My best photo made the front page of the Tampa Tribune. It was shot of Roscoe Tanner, who had the fastest tennis serve at the time, with the ball frozen on his racket.
I took all the normal home movies as my three kids grew up, edited with two VHS decks and made many subject oriented movies from all that footage. A friend at work asked me if I wanted to enter the very first 24 Hour Boulder Shootout about 10 years ago. We made The Secret Lives of Shopping Carts. I learned about the Group 101 program that was being turned over to Patrick from Michael Conti at the time. The program required you to make one movie per month for six months. We were given a new theme each month. You can keep going after your six months ended and I made 16 films over 16 months. That’s where I learned a lot about filmmaking. Of those 16 films, many were documentaries.
I decided to make a feature documentary on a world famous BBQ joint in my home town of Phenix City, AL. The Legend of Chicken Comer has sold some 520 DVD’s to date and really documents a lot about my home town – how things were then and how important BBQ is in the south. It’s a large slice of Americana.
P.S.: What are we going to see at the EFP? What was the inspiration behind it?
M.M.: Three years ago, I decided to make a documentary on clowns. I have prepared an 11 minute slice of my film Red Nose State, which covers the Dell Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA, and the director and main Clown teacher, Ronlin Foreman. it’s a good example of one of the schools I visited many times and shows how unique clown training is in a tiny town in Northern California.
P.S.: What else are you working on?
M.M.: As of this moment, I’m trying to finish the first cut of Red Nose State, which will show all the hoops people jump through to find their clown, write material and perform as clowns all over the world. I hope to have it finished by Summer 2013.
P.S.: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
I’m a good listener and let people that I interview talk about what’s important to them. They will often say things that I would never even thought to ask about. So, what you can look for is a documentary that is in-depth, very revealing and interesting.
P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
M.M.: I’m working on my site but I do have one page that gives a little explanation: http://m9studio.com/clowns.html. if they go to www.m9studio.com they can watch all my short films, the BBQ documentary, and probably my best film to date, Kismet.
P.S.: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
M.M.: I am eternally grateful to Patrick for all his candor and help over many years. He is generous, funny and weird… My kind of qualities in a person. It’s great to have such a talented community and venue to show things. Heck, they even showed Legends of Chicken Comer film in it’s entirety at one point.
P.S.: Thanks for the kind words, Michael! I’m very excited to see Red Nose State when it’s finished. I’m hoping it will help cure my coulrophobia.