Having films in the Traverse City Film Festival for the third time, Matthew is an actor and producer on the film “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” as well as “Merry Xmas,” directed by his son, Boman Modine. Look out for Boman’s interview to be posted on our blog tomorrow!
And after immediately selling out during Friends ticketing, we’ve added another screening of “The Brainwashing of My Dad” by popular demand on Saturday, August 1 at 12 noon.
You’ve worked on movies as grand a scale as “The Dark Night Rises” and “Full Metal Jacket”, but also on television, in theater, independent, and short films – what is your method for determining which projects you choose to become involved with?
I try to find interesting projects, things that give you opportunities to learn about things you’re curious about. Generally those types of subjects that you’re curious about will be in the hands of interesting filmmakers, directors, because they’re also using the medium to investigate and tell stories about things that we don’t know about or things that we’re trying to understand.
You’re notable as a director, writer, producer, but you’re best recognized as an actor. How do you compare working in film in front of the camera, compared to behind the scenes?
You know, there’s a long history of directors who are also actors, whether we go back to Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, or to today with Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen. You learn that you’re coming up whatever your curiosity is – like with Woody Allen it was comedy and acting, there’s a certain kind of thing you want to accomplish, a vision that you have as an artist – that maybe somebody else doesn’t see things the way that you do. And so the only way to fulfill that goal is to be the person who places the camera.
If we think of the camera as your eye, your lens, and your brain is the celluloid, or today the chip, the way that you see things, the way that you imagine a scene to take place is where your lens is – so you see things differently based on the experiences you’ve had in your life. If ten directors were given a screenplay, they’d have ten different points of view. They would place the camera in different places, they would move the camera in different times, and they would edit the film in different ways. That’s the art of filmmaking and directing. What’s interesting is when somebody has a different ways of the seeing things based on the experiences they’ve had in their lives. I think it’s why it’s very interesting the filmmakers we’re being exposed to in America now – from South America, from Scandinavia, from Eastern Europe – their films are compelling because they’re different points of view that we’re not accustomed to, so it makes their films very interesting. Probably what’s happened in America is that we have a lot of people basing their view of the world on experiences that they’ve had not from living life but from watching film or television. What happens when you get a mirror and face it to a mirror is that you get a reflection of a reflection of a reflection. We shouldn’t base our point of view on watching television shows or other people’s films, but we should tell stories that come from experiences that we’ve had in our own personal lives so that we can tell an audience what it feels like to be slapped across the face, to be insulted, to have your heart broken – that you’re telling it from an organic experience rather than a regurgitation of other films. And I think that you can find that in a lot of American cinema.
You’ve worked with so many directors with such distinct methods and styles – Robert Altman, Kubrick, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan – the list goes on. How has this impacted you as an actor and a filmmaker?
Well, the one thing they share and have in common as filmmakers is the unique point of view, a perspective, a need to tell a story, not just a desire to be a filmmaker. The stories that they tell, it’s very important just for an actor but for a director to have the need to tell the story – whether or not there’s an audience for that story, you of course hope that there’s a shared interest in the things that you’re interested in. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. But there has to be that need, that drive to tell the story. I feel that very strongly from someone like Oliver Stone that the stories that he wants to tell are really burning inside of belly, that he wants to expose something and investigate something and share that with an audience and I find that very attractive. Read More →