My background is still photography. I have always focused on portraiture in my photographs with an emphasis on narrative and environments. Filmmaking was always on the horizon but there were a few other things I wanted to learn first about how to tell a story within the limitations of still photography. That approach to story telling is quite clear in my moving images I think.
Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it?
My film is called "130919 • A Portrait of Marina Abramović" which is a selection of the Sundance narrative shorts and New Frontier categories. The film is a dramatic narrative made in one-take without dialogue. My goal was to tell the story of Marina Abramovic's past present and future without interruption. Marina is an iconic figure in the world of performance art. In her 40+ year career she has paved the way for her genre in a remarkable way. Many say she is "overexposed".... image that....a performance artist is over exposed in the general public?! BRAVO to Marina...who would have ever imagine such a thing would happen. Beyond her notable status, I consider Marina a friend and collaborator. I have made images for her and taken her portrait many times since 2006. The incredibly intimate nature of this film is made possible by that relationship. She put her full trust in me for which I am eternally grateful.
What do you love about your film?
That the subject feels I did her justice.
How long did it take you to make your film?
I first conceived of the film 3 years ago however it evolved as things do when you have the luxury of time. That being said, it was simmering on a back burning and then took a nap for about 2 years. The project resurfaced in the spring of 2013 and miraculously came together at light speed.
How did you finance your film?
My film was funded with the generous support of The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and The National YoungArts Foundation and my executive producers VisionaireFilm.
What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it?
To not make compromises on my vision. I'm never one to compromise but it's always difficult to stand your ground and listen to your gut when you want everyone to be happy. The important thing is to be diplomatic and considerate of everyone involved.
Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance.
My executive producer and dear friend Adam Whitney Nichols called me at 11:30 PM and asked me if I was sitting down. This was at the end of November and I was preparing for a massive installation of this film's premiere in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach. Just when I thought I couldn't be more excited to present this work in the best possible way he said, "Matthu, your film got into Sundance!" Even as I sit here in Park City, Utah, watching the ski lifts outside my windows, it still hasn't sunk in. I am incredibly honored to be included! The film world is all new to me so I am just riding the wave and keeping my eyes and ears wide open to better understand my surroundings.
If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different?
In all honesty.... No.
What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
"130919 • A Portrait of Marina Abramovic" is an ongoing series of one-take dramatic 3D portraits of people I have a personal relationship with. This is how I want to tell a person's story, through personal experience and the gift of their valuable time. In an age where everything is accessible at any moment, I wanted to take a step back and respect the relationship, the process and the time. These films are made as artworks which are created in an edition of 6 with 2 AP's. The film will not be available online and it will not be distributed. However, I will be showing this work and the subsequent portraits in fully immersive installations such as the Miami installation. The next scheduled installation will be a week long project in New York during the Frieze Art Fair in May 2014.
Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made?
If you are facing endless obstacles and brick walls...let your project have a rest to the side. Perhaps it needs to simmer. Work on something else. You'll know when it's the right time to charge forward again.
Here's a Making Of to enjoy: