Movie Maker Profile: Matt Barry

Written by Matt Barry, edited by Siobhan Hagan

I was born in Westminster and grew up in Norrisville (in Harford County). [I currently live in] Jersey City, NJ. I studied film production at Towson University, and Cinema Studies at NYU as a graduate student. I taught myself the basics of filmmaking through making amateur videos using the family camcorder, and reading as many books on film as I could find. I also learned simply by re-creating techniques that I saw in the great films that inspired me as a kid. Then when I got to film school, I was able to really develop and polish my production skills, especially by shooting on film for the first time.

My favorite format is MiniDV. It provides a high level of resolution combined with ease of editing that makes it an ideal format for DIY filmmaking. It’s also an excellent storage medium for backing up projects. I have copies of all but a few of my earliest projects. The early ones I shot were recorded on Sony 8mm videotape which I would transfer to VHS while crash record editing on the VCR. I have a couple boxes of VHS tapes of the finished videos. I have lots of projects backed up on MiniDV, and the more recent projects are stored digitally on hard drives.

I don’t make my living through filmmaking. It’s always been something I’ve pursued as a passion project, although I have done commercial video production work in the past. I’ve had a number of different “day jobs”, but currently I work as a film publicist in New York. I’m currently living in the Greater New York City area because of my job, but would love come back to Maryland in the near future if the opportunity presented itself. I still make most of my films in Maryland because of the support I get from friends and other like-minded folks who generously lend their creative talents to help me with my projects. I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of great people who are passionate about making movies.

I would love to see more opportunities for filmmakers to be able to earn their living in Maryland by working in related fields (promotion, archiving, teaching, etc.). Some of us come to New York or other cities to find that “day job” that pays the bills and allows us to pursue passion projects on the side. Maryland has a lot of native talent, and it would be great to see more opportunities for that talent to be able to stay local and contribute to the film and arts community.

…I’m proud of different films for different reasons. If I had to pick one [I was most proud of], it would probably be BLOCK, which I made in November 2007, and which I wrote, shot and edited in the span of about four hours one morning. I’m proud of it as an example of how using consumer tools and the resources available to you at any given moment have eliminated all of the excuses as to why you supposedly “can’t” make a movie. If the ideas are there, then it’s possible.

I’ve done a number of comedies with the “Mr. Rat” character that are a lot of fun to make. These are slapstick, physical comedies inspired by my love for silent comedy (the latest one was called DINNER).  On very much the flip side of those, I’ve made some dark crime dramas. THE INVESTIGATION is a sort of topsy-turvy film noir pastiche about a Bogart-like detective who becomes obsessed with the wife of a murder victim in a case he’s investigating, and his gallant efforts to protect her after she confesses to the murder lead to tragic consequences. THE AGREEMENT is a darkly absurd tale about a painter with murderous tendencies who becomes indentured to a New York art dealer after he discovers the painter’s terrible secret.

More recently, I made a melodrama called A SIMPLE MISUNDERSTANDING, about a bored and lonely housewife who seeks the counsel of a therapist against her husband’s wishes. She mistakes the attention of her therapist for something more serious, which in turn arouses her husband’s violent jealousy and leads to tragic consequences for all involved.

I have plans this summer to shoot a new film in Maryland. It will be my first “Western”, albeit a Western with a twist.

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