December 4, 2013

New Work: "Until The Real Thing Comes Along"

Below is a short film I made for no particular reason, and it's about 5 minutes long. I'd suggest wearing headphones.

At one point it was going to be submitted to one of those "make a short film, and use these weird constraints" contests, but in the end I didn't want to rush it through an arbitrary deadline. If nothing else, this is a good example of what happens when I try to write a love story. It also continues my ongoing obsession with The Ink Spots.

I hope you enjoy it. 

If you do, feel free to say so on twitter, facebook, or wherever. I'd be very grateful. If you don't enjoy it, well, shush.

August 20, 2013

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard.

Elmore Leonard was a champion of genre writing, a champion of Detroit, and a paragon of the artist-as-workhorse. I was a student at a tiny film program in Detroit when I met him in 2001, and he shared some incredibly wise words about writing, work habits, creativity, and the film industry in general.

I haven't even read the majority of his books, but I think about him all the time when I wrestle with my own creative problems. Rest in Peace, sir.

August 5, 2013

VC Dreams of Movie Theatres with Lights, Wi-Fi, and Outlets...

 ...and I dream of a place where this guy can go fuck himself.

Currently after seed funding/angel investors.

June 22, 2013 has been unleashed!

Without further ado, behold the new home of my Production Design related ventures:

"" was intended to be the clearing house for all my endeavors... but designing an uncluttered, professional space for any number of assorted things (much less niches within those things) has proven to be a bit unwieldy, and keeping the site (much less this blog) updated was taking too much time and energy. Production Design is the thing I do most these days, and thus it's been granted its own domain.

I set up a relatively simple portfolio site over at Square Space, which has been awesome thus far. I may eventually migrate my whole operation to them, but I'll cross that bridge when it's time to direct my first feature.

June 5, 2013

2013 In Progress.

Finally wrapped principle photography for OPEN TABLES, a film I've been Producing and Production Designing since last December.

It was something that Jack C. Newell (Director), Stephanie Dufford (Director of Photography) and myself have been scheduling in small chunks for the better part of 6 months. The script is heavily improv-oriented, told in chapters, and particularly suited to modular production. Jack and I talked extensively about how to maximize our meager resources, without costing the film integrity or production value, and I think we managed to adapt to (what proved to be) an interesting production model.

At times we were as minimal as a documentary crew, and other times had grown to a full 15+ crew with as many (or more) cast. We had many of the limitations you'd expect from an indie production. Still, the ability to scale our crew size and resources according to the day itself, rather than planning for a behemoth 20+ day marathon shoot, was ultimately liberating. If not for our flexibility, the film could still be in development or looking for financing. It feels good to have 95% of it in the can.

I should have screen shots and more info soon. Also, there's an additional chunk of dates that I'll have to monitor from a distance, as they involve filming in Paris.

Needless to say, I'm very much looking forward to seeing this one at picture lock.

March 25, 2013

Spring Breakers.

I really, really don't want to see SPRING BREAKERS. I know I'm going to, because there's nothing more boorish than a critic who hasn't bothered to see the thing they're criticizing. Still...

Get a drink or two in me and I'll spend a few minutes talking about why Harmony Korine is a childish hack. Yet in the cold light of day it all boils down to: I'm just not interested in his films. He makes garbage on purpose, and as artistic and fascinating as that may to some, I just don't like garbage.

Shlock? Sure, I'm there. Camp? Golden. But deliberately making bad shit, just because it's weird and provocative? No thanks.

An article in SLATE today claims the film is racist. From my armchair I doubt that's an accurate judgement of Korine himself, but I can say he's irresponsible enough to make lazy, uninformed choices in his quest for "hyper-reality" without stopping to consider whether he's made something truly abhorrent. This quote touches on the kind of thing that sent up red flags for me after watching the trailer: 
Brit and Candy don quasi-blackface thanks to a blacklight. Korine shoots the scene as if it were a video game with zero consequence: As Brit and Candy dodge in slow motion around the compound of Alien’s nemesis Archie (played by rapper Gucci Mane), toting guns to seek revenge for an earlier incident, the black characters fall instantly and with little fanfare. The bikini-wearing duo emerges unscathed.
After a brief threatening exchange with Alien, who is uncharacteristically scared—proving he’s still not as “hard” as his black former ally—Archie drives off as the woman shoots at their car and hits Cotty in the arm. If only for a moment, the violence is utterly palpable and unfiltered by fantastical camera tricks. Later we watch Alien remove the bullet from her arm as she cries.
In this way, Spring Breakers is a mirror image of Django Unchained, in which the deaths of white slave holders in the Old South are treated with frivolity, while the deaths of their slaves are brutal and difficult to watch. Of course, the whole point of that movie is that slave owners deserved to die. What is the point of Spring Breakers?
I’m still not sure.
All provocation, and with nothing to show for it once it has your attention. Sounds about right to me.

March 23, 2013

Production Design Updates.

One of the less glamorous parts of working as a Production Designer is that you have to wait a long, long time to see the fruits of your labor. I'm only just now getting clips from films that I worked on over two years ago, for example. In an effort to stay a bit more organized, I've uploaded a few scenes from both MUNGER ROAD (2011) and LIGHT YEARS (TBR, but completed in 2012).

Hopefully soon I'll have some more design-oriented clips from LIGHT YEARS, as well as footage from the film I worked on over the summer in Los Angeles, called MEDEAS.

Production Design - Munger Road
from Matt Hyland on Vimeo.

[I've redacted the Light Years clip for the time being, apologies!]
Production Design - Light Years
from Matt Hyland on Vimeo.

January 26, 2013


The thing is, I'm not a film critic or scholar (thank god), so I'm not especially concerned if my List fails to mirror that of The Academy's or your favorite backseat driver. Still, as a filmmaker I think there's merit in adding to the discussion. These films are made by people I want to work with, in contexts that I want to explore, and represent thresholds I'll spend my life trying to reach (or, in my arrogance and folly, attempt to exceed).

Favorites of 2012:
1.  The Master
2.  Holy Motors
3.  Amour
4.  Django Unchained
5.  Beyond The Black Rainbow
6.  Samsara
7.  Killing Them Softly
8.  Searching For Sugarman
9.  Lincoln
10.  The Imposter
11.  Moonrise Kingdom
12.  Headhunters
13.  Jiro Dreams Of Sushi
14.  Alps
15.  Cabin In The Woods
16.  Looper
17.  Ruby Sparks 
18.  Chasing Ice 
19.  Zero Dark Thirty 
20.  The Raid: Redemption
Thinking back, I think this was a great year for film. A number of masters operating at their best, a few great surprises, and a dose of glorious (and in retrospect, predictable) disappointments.

I'll step on my soapbox for a moment to mention that this year finds a number of critics and fans collectively losing their mind over a handful of fairly average films. I suppose there's always a hoopla made over the young, the flashy, and the pretentious, but I think this year it's especially cacophonous. Maybe I just don't understand this industry's obsession with elevating precocious youngsters, any more than I do its need to venerate aging train-wrecks (I'm talking about Directors here, of course).

I had to amend my 2011 list extensively after I posted it, so as a caveat, here are films I haven't seen yet, but probably should:
*Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
*Queen of Versailles
*Wuthering Heights
*Life of Pi 
*It's Such A Beautiful Day
*Rust & Bone
*West Of Memphis
*The Central Park Five
*Turin Horse
*Oslo, August 31
*This is Not A Film
*The Intouchables
*Magic Mike 
*The Loneliest Planet 

See you next year, List.