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Talking to filmmaker Matt Schacht

I met Matt Schacht almost 10 years ago. He was one of my older brother's roommates. We became long-time friends and roommates thereafter. During our roommate tenure, I witnessed Matt become really interested in filmmaking. Over the years, the interest has become a passion and a career. He runs his own business and does tons of projects on the side. Although we don't see each other nearly as much as we did back in the day, it was nice to use this interview as an excuse for us to catch up and for me to get insights into his business and recent work. Thanks Matt!

Recorded on 2019-05-25

Speakers: Matthew Schacht and Joseph Weidinger

Matthew Shacked Matt Shack. Is that right? That's correct. Awesome. Nice to be here. D'oh! Thanks for inviting me, David. Thanks for being here. I've known you for almost a decade. You and my older brother were roommates on High Ridge Circle when I came in and start living in the house. You were on the Callister mates because you're so easy going easy to get along with. But you're also super interested in new ideas, discussion, creative projects.

And I think you eternally for putting up with all my nonsense for those years. So anyways, you've been in town ever since. Uh, you've been doing a lot of film work here in Colombia, and I want to talk a lot about that. So let's talk about right now, for starters. Ah, what's your life like right now? Uh, what are you doing next week? Next week? Well, next week is actually too far into the future. Tomorrow, I'm going to independence Missouri, to shoot a scene for a feature film by Dustin Hawkins called Venture.

Gonna be a period peace in a speakeasy. And there's gonna be a Tommy gun going off s o. I'm gonna be doing lighting and that's that's just tomorrow. So wow. Yeah, that's exciting. And we'll be there just for the day. Yeah, we'll be there for it'll be a full day shoot with a lot of extras. Is there a crew going from Colombia? And, like, how did you get involved in that? This man you just project These just know people.

If you just keep on showing up on film sets and doing work like when the next film set comes around, you get a car's I'm right. Like, Hey, I want to work with that guy. So are they hiring like you, or is it like, peace frame or like Oh, well, money doesn't always factor into these in this particular shoot, I'm not getting paid. Okay, Um, and I guess there is ah, kind oven understood code with filmmakers that if you're trying to do a project, it may be creative, in which case people just pitch in and do good work together because in order for film to be considered serious wherever it's being made, the stories and the product in the video in the film have to look good.

They have to sound good. And so when one of us helps another on a project That means that that person, that filmmaker, can take that work and go out into the world. And if their next big project is something where they want to raise money so that they can pay people, then they'll be able to do that. And that enriches the whole community. So there's a equal part of paid and non paid jobs and what I do. And the one of this Sunday is not paid.

They'll they'll feed us and I won't have to pay for gas. No, that's cool. That's cool. Yeah, in movie sets, regardless paid, unpaid from the ones. At least I've been involved with mine early throughout the years. Do you always have good food? Ah, I've been doing background extra work in L. A and like they had the best food spreads ever. Oh, it's critical. Absolutely critical. It's probably gonna be a long day, too, isn't it?

Yeah, probably. So how are you doing? Lighting like, Was that mean? So there's a couple of important roles on a film set that would be helpful to explain what's going on here. There's a director, and the director is obviously the big picture guy. He's looking at everything, but primarily he's going to be dealing with the actors. Or that's the specialty on DH. Then you have a director of photography, which is right under the director and the director of photography is responsible for everything in the image, which includes lighting, which includes camera, movement and maybe even the blocking of the actors.

And so my job, I'm gonna be right under the director of photography. My rules called a Gaffer, which is a film term for the lighting guy. And my job is to create look for the scenes. Films have looks just the same way music's have sounds. They're genres, there's trouble, the styles. And once you once the director and the director of photography chooses style for a scene, then it's up to somebody like myself to execute that with the available equipment.

And I guess people who get really metaphorical about lighting for film talk about painting with light, because what you're doing is your molding the light in a scene. You're blocking some of it. You're adding some of it. You're changing the colors using different lights that have different. I think it's called spectral spectral ISS ity or there's a term for it. But it's the way light bounces around the room.

There's the hardness or the softness of it. And all of those are aspects of have somebody paints with light. And if you start watching films thinking about every scene being a painting, you'll start to notice that there are some very ordinary scenes in movies that people spent an extraordinary amount of effort to make you look the way they look. You know, that reminds me of someone like an interview from 100 a painter, like years ago or whatever, where they asked him, like, What's a good day to you?

Or like we'll be like your perfect day? And he's like I just like Tio, sit with my front door open and endure all the sun as the light comes in the different angles all day or something like It was something. It's like, what? And I just you know, it's one of those things, like there's ordinary scenes where there's amazing stuff happening. It's like most of us don't look at, like how lies balance bouncing off something or how shade is hitting like to speak infatuated with it, but literally, if you're involved with film process, you have to be infatuated with these things because or obsessed with these things, because to create them, tio to create the ordinary things that have all the magic in it, you have to be able to execute down on a technical level.

Um, so that's cool, man. What's a Is this what your life's like? Constantly is bouncing like every day? Could be just something completely different. Or do you have, like, consistency with it, too? Well, uh, yeah. Short answer is logistically. That's what my life looks like. I'm gonna reach into my backpack here, and I'm gonna pull out my day book because I'm analog and I show you what a month looks like for me.

Holy moly. Wow. And you just pulled open. So random page here too much. That's crazy. Although it is pretty small like, Ah, that's a lot of writing have to fit in these small squares, but they're pretty much awful. That's crazy. Yeah. I mean, every day has got something I gotta do. I want to read some of these, but I'm like, I should probably that, uh that's cool. How do you organize yourself? Is it just the analog device?

Which is that notebook or day calendar? Yeah, I write myself a lot of lists. I do well with pen and paper and then I, you know, working, freelancing, working for yourself. It could be hard to be motivated because you've got so much freedom. You don't have a boss that you're terrified of disappointing. All you can do is disappoint yourself. And and so the challenge of being organized sometimes is actually also a challenge of being motivated and thinking about how to break down work into ways that will help you stay motivated and healthy as an individual.

So I've got lots of tricks that seemed to work for me, and I changes a person as well. The way I work changes depending on the way my mind is on the way my body is or what's happening in my community or my family. I gotta work different ways to adjust, so there's a lot that goes into just figuring how to live your life style and do good work. But again, I mean, I think I think we were just talking about being a intentional viewer of Netflix shows right before this when we were eating our pizza.

Yeah, and I would say the same thing about doing work. I intentionally do work cool. So let's go to. Actually, I want to ask you more questions about your life. Right now. You're very visible person around town, like probably. I don't think we've intentionally going out to steal a term in a while. But I see you regularly on the road like you're biking or walking around. What's your conviction for using your body as transportation?

And I feel like you're going to even answer that's going to make everything makes more sense. Uh, as I'm looking at your analog day calendar, too, Um, because I know that if you're in the film business especially, and I know like you have experience with worth working all these with all these technologies on Set or if you're editing film footage on a brand new Mac book pro like, Are you a really high tech, low tech person who just takes one extreme or the other?

Well, I do believe that there are a lot of businesses and corporations who want to complicate our life with new devices and new technology and convince us that that will make our life better. So I guess I'm a little skeptical about doing things the way everyone else does. It I, you know, just kind of try things. And if it works for me, it's compatible with the rest of the world with the way I do it. Um, I don't have any specific examples, but I know that sometimes I tried to do things my own way, and it was completely stupid, and I had to get it, like a head check by somebody or myself.

Oh, I do have a story, but I'm not gonna tell you to you right now with you. Wait. What era? What date is the story? I used Teo work at Uprise Bakery, and my job was to deliver bread. It was a 100 very early morning job. Really simple job to it. Sounds like just what it is. I get up, I go to the bakery. They've got, uh, I don't know, loaves of bread that the baker bakes overnight. And then I got a slice that bread and bag it and label it.

And so part of that job would be spending I don't know. Maybe an hour, two hours in front of the slicer and a bakery. And it's an industrial slicer where you put the bread on this shelf and then you lower like the's jig saw blades, and it just slices it perfectly and the standing there on hard concrete and doing the same repetitive motion after a couple of months doing that, my back to start killing me, man.

And I was, you know, I'm a pretty healthy guy. Do yoga exercise. But every time I get to that part of my work day, I dread it. And I learned that if I just took my shoes off and stood in my socks basically more or less just my feet in the ground, uh, didn't have any back pain. And so I discovered that. And then I was like, Okay, is this health codes? I did the research. It's health code. Check that box And then I thought, Okay, what is my boss gonna think about this?

Um, my boss is gonna like it. My boss was a kind of a quirky guy, and I just knew him. I thought he was gonna have some objections to me. Standing in my socks while I sliced bread. So I got really slide. I went down to Goodwill. I found a pair of sneakers that were about two sizes bigger than my feet. And then I ripped the bottoms off those sneakers. Okay, this is really brilliant. I ripped the bottoms off these sneakers and then I wore them on top of my socks when I was at the slicing machine.

So what it is is it's sneakers without the souls, just the top in the laces. So if you look my feet, it would look like I'm standing there and sneakers. But as soon as I move my feet, you would just see socks underneath. Uh, and I did that, and it was It was great for me. Ah, and it was like it was like one of those, like, compromises I had made with the rest of the world about I know how people do usually do these things, and I'm doing it my own unique way.

And I hope I'm hoping nobody's gonna pitch a fit about it because, you know, it was important to me. I didn't Anyone have back pain? Ah, and that actually caused some controversy in the kitchen. I got away with it for a little bit, but then there was a discussion, and at the end of the day, it wasn't about the sneakers, and it wasn't about my back pain. It was about there was a hierarchy in the kitchen, and if you were told to do something and you did it a different way, that was in subordinate.

And I understand that kind of thinking. I know why people feel like they need to control their workplace, but I also feel like I need to control my body. And so it was actually experiences like that that pushed me into working for myself and being self employed. That's cool. Yeah, I know what you mean. A lot of programmers have this, too, because you're seeing a desk all day and socks. And luckily, if you're on Lee working on your computer like you can just work from home and kind of create your own environment.

But like if not that case and you still to be a programmer like your option is basically just to sit there and chair and like, I don't know how people do it. But like my back aches like crazy. If I said for a long period of time and and people just go like entire lives saying now it doesn't I don't know what kind superpower they have, but I don't have it. But yeah, it's at some point. It's like I have to put.

I'M report I organizing here in it. And if it means not working here, that's that's okay, because this is more important, obviously. So I'm glad you made that decision. Ah, so when did you get in a film? Stuff like here's just the preface is a little bit. I remember when we were living together, you got a nice camera you became really interested in. I think I really want a nice camera. And you eventually got that shortly after.

But also something that you just said earlier is that when you start watching movies or TV shows or whatever and you start noticing the little things. Uh, what time period was that for you when you started noticing the thing? The the little things about cinematography or lighting? Um, or directing Whatever. And ah, you thought, man, I think I want to do this. Well, I think The observation is part of being an artist, and as you grow as an artist, your your skills of observation will change and grow as well.

So every time that I personally have started looking at different aspects of filmmaking, whether that's camera movements or lighting or sound, that is affected, how I watch films and I imagine that it's for artists with all mediums. But when did that start for you? When did you start being an artist? Maybe that's why I'm fine ass. Well, a lot of us were confronted with having to choose a career after school.

And that might be where the rubber meets the road where you have to be like, This is what I met. This is what I'm doing with my life. So I could say that that was a point where I had to, like commit to a profession and artists is one of those professions you can sign up for it. And then, of course, it's just like, Well, how do you survive doing that? And what kind of artist are you and who are your patrons?

But you know, if I'm from refractive enough about that question about how and when I really started watching films, you know, I think that starts from the moment that your I did and you watch an amazing film and it inspires you whether it inspires you tow dress up and act like the characters. Or whether you replay that film in your head over and over and over again, or whether there are messages or themes or experiences of fictional characters that nevertheless feel so real to you that you start to feel like they're part of your family or your life.

Like to me that as soon as you start having those experiences with film, you you're watching it been engaging with it on a significant level. I understand that. I guess when I think about my own experiences, like when I played Dave Sex, we're talking about that game that you bought for my birthday, like 10 years ago, and you, Ah, you watch me play because your your cap captivated by the theatrical trailer, Uh, like, I'm pretty sure that that game blew my mind and I loved it.

But I'm pretty sure that when I watched it, I was like, You know, I just want to play video games as much as possible like that was my takeaway like this have school, and ah, And so I guess when does it translate to being something like this is something I want to make Something like these people, like these people have made. Well, when is it translate into I im consuming this? I love consuming this.

It means a lot to me. Whatever into something like, I want to produce this, I'd say the critical ingredient. Teo, get that place where you want to be an artist and commit to producing. So stop is when you start building a relationship with an audience, A soon as you have people who consume your art, it starts to get real serious. And and even if even if you make something, you could make it for somebody who never sees.

But you have an intended audience in mind, and that may be a lot of what happens for artists and filmmakers who are starting out. Um, they've at that point, you know, you're say you're in your late teens early twenties. You've got a lot of experiences. Art is a way to process your life, and you start making things and you start to realize, Wow, this is This's a film for my family or this is a film about my grandmother.

This is a film about my childhood. You know, you start to realize I am making this stuff for an audience. This isn't just for me and assumes you do that. It gets it gets pretty serious and it gets meaning. No, how important this story telling in what you do our films and our film is just a means to an end, like if there's a better medium or technology to facilitate that. Ah, like well, that take over and step films like, anyways, it's kind, like, one question after another.

But, um, yeah, how important the storytelling and what you do. Well, uh, I mean, I see storytelling a lot like sex. It's a language that everybody speaks, and it's it's pretty intuitive. I don't know why, but everybody pretty much knows how these things work. And when it's done well, it makes people really happy that that is so good. That's gold. That's gold, Jerry. Cool. So do you think films are just a means to an end?

I like to our films about storytelling. Maybe sometimes there just about creating cool images, creating images like experimental film experimental. Well experimental films might also be about creating moods and emotions. I was thinking like Cool images are like the VFX artist who's going to make a semi truck trailer turn into Optimus Prime for transformers. That may not be about that, but there's a little bit storytelling there, but I think that also is just about doing something cool, right?

Have you heard been into experimental film? Are created experimental home? Sure, sure was. I mean, yes. Yeah. I made films that have non linear story lines that are bits and pieces of random footage stuck together, but not like like flashing black and white screen for a 20 minute sort of thing. Like I'm talking like completely abstract. Oh, uh, no, I haven't done anything like that. I got it. Some friends who dabbled in that stuff been a little bit too abstract for my personal tastes, but I think it's interesting if you enter one of those viewing experiences and you could just be like, Okay, what What is this?

What is this doing to me right now? Watching these flashing colors on the screen like, What is it doing to my brain? It's almost like taking drugs and just seeing what happens. So you're you'll be flirting with that concept in the future. Probably. At some point, it seems like taking drugs. I mean, I know actually, taking drugs is something I want to do. Yeah? Yeah, absolutely. Like Okay, Um, like, what kinds?

Uh, LSD and mushrooms. Have you done this before? No. When you don't know what you're gonna do him like when that feels appropriate, Or do you have, like, Oh, when I'm 50? You know what? I don't have a plan. I just have a general wish on, uh, occasion. I'm with groups of people who seem to have the same wish. On one of these days, I'm going to say, Let's do this and something that actually write my bag right here.

And then we're gonna do it and then I'll have done it. There you go. Cool. I remember. I remember when we were living together, you found a bag of weed on the side of the road and in typical Matt fashion, took it down to the police station and turned it in like a I found this on the side of the road that you might want to have their something like. Is that right? That's correct. Yeah. Now, that's funny. I mean, part part of part of the reason I did that was I thought it just be cool to walk into a police station with weed that Okay?

Yeah. You know what? That's actually really cool. Now I think about it like you weren't turning in just to be a goody two shoes like this is one time in your life where you actually have, like, some power over the like. You're in control of the situation, and you can't You're not gonna get in trouble for it. And you can tell the story forever. Yeah, that's that's interesting. Um okay, so let's talk about your company a little bit.

You still do that Piece frames, productions, film. Awesome. And like it. What is it? What roles do you play in that company? Uh, well, I I am the manager. So I managed the contracts, the paychecks, or however, money's transferred taxes. Okay, real quick. I just forgot. You have a lot of very right. That's correct. Dang, dude. So wait. You do you take care. Do you do stuff with that? With contracts, like for other people to Or if you just use that for yourself?

Well, currently. So to be clear toe, in order to practice the law, you have to have a law degree and you have to take the bar. Okay? Wanna practice so I can't do anything professionally with that law degree, It would be malpractice. I think so. The law degree basically just gives gives me a good background of most of the legal issues. Right, Because that was the point. When you finish law school like you're just like, okay, I'll actually want Teo do film stuff, and that's around the same time he transitioned to doing that.

So basically, you have all the the education, someone who went to law school, and you can look at a contract to be like, this is a good contract or or whatever. Um, and you can use that benefit your business and the sort of people you do business with and how that it is done. And you have all the security and comfort knowing what's going on in that department. Uh, but you don't practice like legal work you don't do legal work on the side.

Is that accurate? That's accurate. Cool. So your manager, what else? Well, oftentimes clients come to peace frame productions seeking to make a video or having an idea, or maybe just having some footage, and that's all they have, and they're not quite sure what the next steps are. So I do a lot of coaching and consulting to help people get to wherever they want to get to with their project. And along the way I would do everything from what's called producing, which is kind of a catch all term and film for doing a lot of stuff to directing to director of photography to art direction, even down to a catering.

Okay, here's a question you brought up director of photography and all these other rules, like I'm curious on what point? Like I say, you have your small independent project. It's like only you. They're hiring you or whatever, because or maybe, and then maybe you're like I needed a guy to help me film and see if they have to people. It's like at what point during this adding people to the process of production.

Do you get roles like Director of photography. Oh, uh, definitely a lot of we wait. And what roles are what your name rolls? Um, I guess if somebody's got a camera, you could call him a director photography. You could call him a camera operator. You calm a videographer called the cinematographer. And largely I start to use different terms depending upon the Mount of work involved. Amount of creativity. They need exercise, how much power they have to make decisions and then how much they're getting paid.

All of those are factors that could go into giving one label or another right. And in every every production, every project is completely different with the requirements, with their with their pay, with everything. So does that ever bother you like being self employed? Wave is the broader question of just never having like any security on what it comes to the door. I I entered freelance world being very secure on, and there's several reasons for that.

But the main takeaway is that I didn't go into it feeling insecure and along the way, I I have tried to make decisions that will never let me feel like I am living from paycheck to paycheck or there are jobs I have to take or else, and having working for myself is about enjoying freedom. And so I tried to protect that freedom as much as I can keep in mind that I am a pretty flexible guy in terms of my lifestyle.

There have been points where I thought, you know, if I had to give everything up and just live in a tent so that I could do this thing I want to do would be worth it. And I would in those conversations and myself, given the affirmative. Ah, a lot of people are frightened about living without air conditioning or living without television or Internet access, and those those are all just luxuries to me.

And so I have some things that I just try to protect over all else and freedom, and not feeling insecure are those kinds of things that are at the core of what I protect. Cool. So with all the responsibilities and rolls are in filmmaking, which of those roles do you least like to play in? Which do you like the most? Who? Well, what What gives me the greatest satisfaction is to see a local group of talented people make something good.

And if if that's my motivation for a project, I'm pretty happy doing any role in that project because I understand that I'm eating create the school thing at the end of the line. Cool. So basically, context is everything for you there? Um, yeah, basically that yeah. I mean, I guess in that in that discussion, it's important that everybody feel respected. It's important that everybody received credit for their work important that people are honest with their limitations and what they've done, what they've not done.

So I I could certainly to a role in a project being satisfied with it. But it wouldn't be because that's not an important role. It would be because of the way I was treated on set or the way the project was presented afterward. Yeah, in a second get pretty fires. Sometimes I imagine white count like those those good old days when they're five of us living at High Ridge, and, uh, some political topic came up or someone was playing monopoly or something like, Ah, it's an intense situation because even if their unit there's even if there is or isn't like money or a lot of money involved, like everyone is just there in the sun.

Probably film like it's an intense situation. They can be. Yeah, it's, uh, it's a lot like being a crew on a ship or a submarine. Morale is really important. Taking care of each other is really important. Then whose job is it to keep everyone like everyone tomorrow up like the obvious choice to me is like the director. But really, he's just worried about the Fillmore or he's not necessarily worried about the people making the film, although is that his responsibility or this or someone else or her?

His or her? Whatever. I have worked with a lot of great directors who do see it as their responsibility to make sure that the crew had taken care of, Um, but it's a bit of a Wild West on larger film sets. There are unions just like there are in trade and other industry, and those unions will set rules, protect people and keep them safe. Kind. But I think the best nurturers on the phone set are folks who are nurturers Anyway.

They're nurtures ofthe film set, so they intuitively understand people, and they just got talents and skills that help them care for folks. And when you're building your team and building your set, it's always good to have a couple of people like that on your crew because they'll make sure that everybody's taken care of cool. Well said. So you have all these analog things in your life, and it kind of made me think of something that I think Steven Spielberg said once that he said something along the lines of like he misses the old days when these have tape on and they were editing things like yet to rewind it actually instead of just like clicking a button.

And it was just instantaneous because that gave you time to, like think in ruminate about the decision and like in a creative process, anything creative stall about decision making problem solving. Anyways, that's the whole point of this question is, how do you find how do you create that space? Assuming that you know you need it as much as anyone else like Steven Spielberg. How do you create space when you're working?

Teo, Just think, uh, well, I think if you're, um if you work real hard, eventually realized that you're your returns on your work, start to diminish. And like if you're editing a project, for instance, and you start hitting some roadblocks, who's starting to move the same two clips around multiple times and you're not happy with the result? Uh, you might just decide to take a break. You know, hopefully you can take a break.

Hopefully, that's built into your work process on. You know, if if in your story about Steven Spielberg all all he needs this time, time to process, I'm thinking, then timeto maybe come up with a creative solution. So if if you could give yourself time as you're making art, if you could be patient and not have to do it all right away, you know, work on it and then continue to work on it at a good pace.

Uh, I think that you should be able to get it where you want to go. Cool. So basically, it's about having if, uh, it's about listening to yourself and how you're internally like, because when you can move two clips going with this example, But you can move two clips back and forth instantaneously. You can frustrate yourself quickly. If it's something that, like you can't, you can't figure out the right solution now, although the clips are moving right now to my to my fingertips, and so you have to listen to your own brand, say, I need to take a step back from this because the technology inherently because it's digital in instant, is not going to give you that time you have toe, you have to step in and take it yourself more or less.

Yeah, technology has allowed us to work faster and longer than ever before. And, uh, that may be faster and longer than we can actually do productively, right? Are there any rituals, routines in your creative process? Get plenty of sleep. He could food, pay attention the world around. You remember things that you care about and be fearless when you're doing your art. What about like, what time do you wake up in the morning?

What's a typical day? Looks like when your work is somewhat normal, like when you have control over your life. You don't have some crazy 6 a. m. Call time in Independence, Missouri, or whatever, you know, I'm a 10 9 a. m. Two or AM guy, and I'm usually going to bed around 11 p. m. R at night. And what do you do when you wake up? But what's your like, morning or team? Like, uh, in your eyes, you lay there for a little while.

I look at my phone. I do that quite a bit when I first wake up, do a lot of work and communication through my phone, looking at, like texts and e mails on my maybe some news updates. And, you know, sometimes I like to start my day by just like reading a news article or something. Just kind of Can I get my brain going all day and then I'll lay there and think about what I want to do for the rest of them.

What about, like substances drink, coffee or tea? I like both of those things. I don't have a habit that involves either one, but not hard shoots. I'll drink a lot of coffee when it gets cold. I like to drink a lot of tea for the war. You put a lot of sugar and cream in your team. Are do you like just drink it wrong. I like my tea raw, but I like my coffee. Adulterated. Okay, because they're right. Coffee's inquired.

It's like some pretty ranch beers, you know? It's just like they might drinking a boot. Or Or is this supposed to be like you have to either acquire the taste were just, like, do like what I do at least make, like, you know, half and half. It's like I see it more like half coffee, half, half, half to be. Oh, absolutely. Um Okay, So would you say that you're more solo or team oriented? I have a lot of independent motivation to work with other people.

What does that mean? I I I'm driven. I, um At least I have been driven for the last several years towards film and film. It is a team sport. You pretty much got to do with other people unless you're gonna be really, really ambitious and somehow pull off a project by yourself, which can be done. But to be motivated as a filmmaker is to realize that you need to have a good working relationships with other people.

You need to build a team of people you trust and enjoy working with and who enjoyed working with you. So if you ask if I like working alone or if I look like working with other people, I those things overlapping, filming and like when you So in the tech world, there's like these coworking spaces where you can like work alone but be around other people like a diesel writ that place downtown. Yeah, I still have some office space Stevens building across from it Is that Is that like just one room?

Or is it like inside a larger place, like a co working situation? It's not really a co working situation. It's more like a a giant building that's subdivided into office spaces. But it's it's nice. I got 24 hour access on DH, my gear safe there, and it's centrally located downtown. So makes it really easy. Tio, meet up with crew for a shoot the little bunch of gear into somebody's car. We go back to the opposite end of the day, drop it off.

We're not having to go to someone's apartment or somebody's basement at somebody's house, and we're right across the street from restaurant. So, you know, we filmed all day. Now we're hungry. Let's go get a beer and a cheese sandwich, please. Cool. All right. The questions. They're only going to get more increasingly abstract for the last 23 months. Here, Um, what does the American dream, the American dream in quotes mean to you?

Uh, I look at America through the lens of immigrants. I think if you're going to be objective about it, you can. They do Look at the history of America as a history of immigrants say, for some indigenous people here were here so long that we just want to say that they've always been here. Um and so if you look at it that way, the American dream is a dream of promise of a better life of space, freedom and building communities the way you'd want.

You know, basically treating other people the way you would want to be treated cool. So creating a good, comfortable, safe, peaceful life for yourself. Yeah, cool. From 10 years of knowing you here and there, you know, were roommates back in the day. But then, uh, you know, it's been years. I went away for a while and a sensor, etcetera. So I guess mostly from what I know from you back then. But you know, you're still the same guy.

I describe you as someone who listens exceptionally well, but when the moment is appropriate, you take charge and lead. If you think that's even a little bit accurate, what's the commonality? Sorry, this is too low. It's string my eyes here. What's the commonality between the moments when you what's the commonality between the moments when you feel you must lead? So you're asking how how do you how how do I personally decide when to take charge and window follow?

Yeah, maybe. Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. Um well, we all have experiences of taking charge and things working out on taking charge, and things don't work out. Yeah. Hey, So hopefully in that decision, you somehow we're calling all that and making the right one based on your experiences on which which worked out before I I've noticed the past few years. Um, I have tried to take charge less and less in a lot of ways, because it's really clear right now in our society that mail white heterosexual men are overpowered and making a lot of bad decisions for everyone else, even though I don't identify with that group philosophically, I nevertheless look and sound like them.

And so if I'm always taking charge of situations, it's still nevertheless reinforces ah, harmful paradigm and power structure. So if I can follow a minority leader like somebody who was a minority or a woman, somebody who represents a group who isn't associated with power, that's important. And that has been something that is really affected when I decide to leave and an end. And I think to its important that there's public leadership, what everybody sees.

And then there's behind the door. Leadership itches, just getting stuff done in supporting other people in empowering them. And I'm doing a lot more behind the door leadership these days. Cool. Well said, Well articulated There. What about like when you're on a film set are whatever and you're not like the one technically in charge. And for whatever reason, if that's the case where you like, Oh, I'm going to give someone else an opportunity here or I don't wantto like for all the reasons you said, I don't wantto I put myself in charge here for whatever reason, but independent of, of all other variables like the the situation just isn't going well and their needs there needs to be like a direction.

Someone needs to say something creatively like this isn't working or whatever. Like we need tolling approach like when is appropriate. Does that happen? And when is it like appropriate to do something about it? I guess. Well, I mean, you know, I I've been in some bad film sets where things went sideways and a lot of people try to fix it. And things thinking, picks Sometimes you're just in a shitty situation.

Yeah. And you did take care yourself. You can help somebody who's beside you. Help them too. Go. How do you stay focused? How do you keep your productivity high? Or how do you deal with this ever increasing distracting the world? Well, if, uh if you're if you're aware of when you start getting distracted, then you can decide whether or not that's what you want. And if you decide you want to be distracted, then you just keep on doing that thing you're like, I don't really want to be distracted right now, but I am let me see if I can do something to change that.

And then that's how that so you just like I have all these rational, logical talks with your inner self all the time. It sounds like I do talk to myself. I find that helpful. Sometimes I think people just need to talk whether you're talking to yourself for another human being to solve your problems. And if you got a problem in the one else is around, you don't have a good person to talk to talking to yourself.

You mean like literally talking tear so literally talking. Okay. All right. So I'm not the only one that justice, like vocalizing with your vocal cords And then like saying something and then literally contradicting yourself is if you were a second person going around like So are you saying that, like, the act of saying something out loud has some sort of like, if you here. So, like I'm distracted right now because I really want to be in.

You're like, Wait minute. Something isn't out of sight. Like, is there something part of your brain that that can only listen to a physical voice? Maybe. I think so. I think sometimes if you got a problem and not able to solve it, talking about it could help you solve it. Actually, now that you mentioned it that way, I was just thinking about how in programming we caught. We have this thing called rubber duck debugging.

And basically, what it is is that you get a little rubber ducky, which I haven't seen one since. I was, like, seven in the in the bathroom or whatever, but you get one those from the bathroom in your childhood home, and you put there and you explain to the rubber duck your problem that you're having my code welcome, pilot, because it's because it says there's a problem on Lines seven about thie. Oh, shit.

Okay, wait, wait. I just got I just realized what's wrong? And it's like the rubber duck helps you. That's amazing. But yeah, I mean, anyways, so is that a trade secret where you tell me that that is a trade secret? But it's well known. So you can use that Robert debugging. All right. Now for some totally abstract questions. Uh, do you pursue more happiness or meaning? Quit. What do you more pursue happiness or meaning?

You mean like, uh, like veganism for spirituality? Or like, what do you say? Well, I was kind of hoping you'd put it in context. I mean, honestly, most people like I asked these questions in these he's a relatively, ah, famous questions, maybe amongst interviews, but ah, normally people just have a gut reaction to and see. And as because your even bringing it up, it's making me think about how you're this kind of guy who's who's like your You can be extremely logical at times.

Uh and, uh, but you can. But you also just like, ah, are in touch with how you feel emotionally about some things about everything, really. And so I'm trying to figure out like, Well, why can't you just use the emotional part of match acted just like spurt out a word without thinking? OK, so here's a little bit of his secret of mind. I don't think I've ever told anyone this before. All right, good. It just occurred to me listening to you, I think one of the things that I use logic for and this is something that probably runs in my family is that we all have egos that can like that surface and that bounce up and especially when we're with other people when we're talking we're negotiating were, like, figure out trading ideas and logic for me has a set of rules which helps me keep my ego in check.

And no matter what, my ego is doing the rules of logic of the same. So, you know, when I'm negotiating something and like this interview, for instance, it would be very easy because you're giving me all this air time for me to just get like my ego could just go to town, and I could just talk to hear myself talking. So if you give me an open and question and I start getting a little logical about it, I think part of that is me.

Just trying to keep my ego in check and listen to you and respond to your question and what you mean by it. Okay, well, I don't have a comeback for that, so I guess I'll just have to man up and do it s o. I mean, if I'm putting this, if I'm trying to elaborate on this question a little more, it's due is your first and foremost goal in life to be happy or is something else? Maybe that's a That's how I read the question.

And so what's your sponsor? That? I think that if you, uh if you love what you do and you love other people, you are happy and have meaningfulness in your life. So another way of saying it may be is that if you pursue the meaning, you'll find happiness or yeah, if you love people, you will have happy. Okay. Meaningfulness there. You pursue love? I got it. That's good. Um, what role models did you have outside of your immediate family when you're growing up?

Uh, I had some, uh, some men I looked up to, a certain, uh, at a high school science teacher named Boyd Smith. There was a best friend's dad who is in the air, a doctor and a Michael Hill. Uh, there are other men. When I was younger, I, uh I I only I guess just their faces, like, flashed across my mind when you asked, asked me that question. One guy was named Bob. Another guy's name was Jerry Duffy. Was an Irish runner babysat for me babysat me.

So yeah, I mean, bright. All little boys want men to look up to you. Okay. And, uh, there's not one in your life. You look for one. I am. In fact, I still look for men to look up to. Um, like, where I'm at, I'm 35 and I'm still looking for men in their fifties of the sixties to look up to as models of, like, how do I How does a jj, uh, gracefully into thes roles that they're in now? Yeah. And like the things I struggle with now that seemed like impossible challenges our problems that I don't have the answers to.

Aiken, Look, att. Somebody who maybe, you know, twice as old as I am and think Wow. Okay. They live their whole life, and there's something about them now. There are other Christmas that makes me think. You know, I feel like I want to know more about this person like I and I don't know, Maybe that's another kind of love, you know, love of a mentor or love of a of a hero. Yeah, for sure. Do you think you mentioned men several times?

So, like, do you think it's, um why is important that that white couldn't that? Why can't those Ramazan Bey women as easily, I guess. Well, growing up, I definitely identified more with men than women. My father, especially, was like the epitome of what a man B. And I thought he was the perfect human being, and I wasn't even close to the truth. But that's what I thought. And as I got older, I started to realize that if you're going to be a good human being, it's about understanding the opposite sex as well as understanding your own orientation.

And so women became a lot more interesting to me as role models. When I got older, catch it. Were you raised a particular religion? If so, are you still practicing? Uh, religion of the forest, baby. Okay, I'm glad, because, actually, I remember the only things I remember released about you when we were roommates is that you weren't raised a religion, right? That's right. OK, so and I just had to ask that first because I couldn't quite confirm in my head, but basically it blew me away back then because I only had ever met someone that was like everyone they were Baptists or Lutheran or Catholic or, uh, Jewish or whatever, like everyone had some sort of background.

And you were like the first people in my life that at age 20 I guess it was or something like that were like, Nope, no religious upbringing in it blew my mind because I'm like God, Matt's such a decent individual like human being like How is that impossible? And of course, it's just me being young, dumb, but like, Well, I mean part. Part of that is that my parents had a lot more religion in their lives, and I don't know that they identified very much with it.

So when they started a family, it was almost completely absent from my life. And and that s so whether or not I grew up with religion was almost based on choices made by people before I was even born right, which is the case for most people, probably whether they are religious or not. So we have about five minutes left here. Why is it so difficult, Matt? Why is it so difficult for humans to consider the possibility that life may be pointless?

That's a hard question uh, I mean, do you want me to argue against the idea that life is pointless? Not necessarily. I mean, you could talk about that if that. If that is something that you want to say. I mean, the main point of the question is is like, Why is it so difficult for humans to even consider it? Consider the possibility. Well, you're a computer programmer, okay? I'm listening. And you can't just type any code into your into your program and have a computer work on it, right?

Like there were rules and formats and observe the rules. That's true. And, you know, maybe having a life with meaning is part of the computer code for most people that they need to have meaning in order for their process of their work. And if you try to take that away, they just the machine doesn't run. So it's People aren't a probably even aware. They just, like, literally can't compile the code. They can't compile this idea and integrate into their system trying to go with these computer analogies.

But it's not working too hot, like you're saying it's just impossible given their biology as a human being. I mean, I would say that it's It's pretty well built into our hardware toe. Make meaning out of anything, and you can go back as far as you want in like the history of our species. And you'll see people writing on cave walls. You see people worshiping deities and you'll see people explaining thunder and rivers and trees with stories people make meaning the same way they make buildings and the same way they make families.

It's just part of us. Um, right, I was something I was just thinking about something you said earlier in the interview, How it it's like sex or whatever. What is it? What do you say? Was the filmmaking story story telling Thank you, sick sort of and maybe meaning his storytelling. Ah, not making meaning is like making sex. Why is it so? So? It's difficult for humans to consider the possibility of life made pointless.

So I had one more thought, but it's one away. Do you think life is pointless? You are. Do you entertain the ideas? And I am saying the idea. Yeah, and I find it easy to entertain the idea. And when you, uh when you entertain that idea. What is that? What does that do for you? Like, what does that do for your right? No. Well, sometimes empowers me. Sometimes it makes me depressed. Yeah. Hello. That could be kind of freeing then.

I don't know. It just depends. It probably just exacerbates whatever mood I'm in, you know? And yeah, so I don't know. Well, I mean, I do think that part of making up our own minds and coming to our own beliefs is the freedom. Teo, you know, to say something is wrong to push away another view or another ideology. I mean, if, for instance, if you said life is meaningless, that gives you a clean slate like you can literally see the world without any preconceptions or any dogma and that that could free you up to then see well what I really think about the world right now as I see it.

Live it so I mean, maybe there's a Maybe there's value in being able to see the world. Oh, I think there's value. But for a look as the heart of the question is like trying to understand why it's so difficult for people to even entertain the possibility. Um, you know why people never thought about that? Because I think like what you said. There's some biological code, more or less that just that says, like, Don't go there.

Yeah, me and say that explosively. It's what I translated as. But there's just an instinctual ah, distancing from that idea that people do. Well, I know that if you look at the history, I was a philosophy major in college. So okay, that's right. A Tennessee right, Yeah, in East Tennessee State University. And there were movements in philosophy, especially after wars or traumatic experiences, where you would have people who went through those experiences and a new movement of philosophy would come up where everything was absurd, where there was no meeting or the the traditional ways of thinking were discarded because they no longer applied.

So I think there is definitely a utility to being able to see. Life is meaningless for a time, but I don't know that anybody could live in a vacuum. And anybody can live without meaning for long periods that be like holding your breath diving to the bottom. That pool eventually need to come up for air. Now, go. Interesting way to put it. All right. So we got just few seconds left. So I'm going, Teo, ask you these five questions, and they're just all in a row.

Uh, feel free to give one more answers, if that's what they're designed to be Sure. Question short answered questions. Okay, here we go. Who started it all? God, where are we going? To the future. Are we going to make it? Yes. Always the optimist. Who's cleaning it up? I don't know. And is it serious? Absolutely awesome. Thanks. Mad Shack for joining me today, man.