Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Los Angeles native and San Diego State alumnus Michael Matteo Rossi has had several films screened at major film festivals around LA. His first short, Our Lost Translation, was featured at the 2006 LA Shorts Fest and several of his subsequent films have earned accolades. To name a just two, his 2011 sci-fi drama, The Last Wish picked up an award at the following year’s Mountain Film Awards and his 2013 thriller, Misogynist, won for best narrative feature at the Los Angeles Underground Film Festival.
Andreea: How did you started your career as a filmmaker and what has been your motivation?
Michael: I started at 19 while I was a sophomore in college. I had been doing creative writing back in high school and started to get into screenplays shortly after but I decided to pull a team together and make my first short film in college. I directed and wrote it and it got into a few festivals and I never looked back.
Andreea: What has inspired you?
Michael: I’ve been inspired by the greats of course; Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, etc. and they all helped influence my style in their own certain ways. To me, it always starts with strong characters and then the situations play out for themselves.
Andreea: Independent films are mainly produced by young filmmakers, often with sacrifice, because they do not have the necessary budgets. They always think about creative and innovative ideas. Almost everyone has their own style and at the same time, high hopes that their messages arrive to the audience and the media. Do you agree that what Amazon is doing now, getting many independent films out of their programs, is causing many young filmmakers to lose their motivation to make films?
Michael: To be honest, I hadn’t heard much about that, more as Netflix is becoming more and more selective especially when it comes to having “indie” films (real indie films) on their network. I think it’s always going to be an uphill climb for indie artists, mostly because of our budgets, but I firmly believe the right stories will get the attention that they need and we need to keep pushing forward and continuing to tell our stories and produce content. Each film can be used as a building block towards the next.
Andreea: Which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Michael: I look at every film that I’ve done as a learning experience and something I can take away. Whether it was my first short or first feature, you learn who you want to work with again, what you would do differently and what you would keep the same.
Andreea: What can you tell us about your best experience in your work as a filmmaker?
Michael: My best overall experience would probably be my most recent film Chase. The preparation behind it and I really took my time to build a team that I was comfortable with that I knew would have the talent to help execute my vision, both in front of and behind the camera. No film is 100 percent stress free, but it went extremely smoothly overall and was fun to film and something that the entire cast and crew believed in.
Andreea: Which are your favorite film genres?
Michael: Action, thriller, dark comedy, drama, and sci-fi.
Andreea: What are your recommendations for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Michael: We live in an age where technologically we have things that are so accessible to us and can be done for cheap. If you have a phone, chances are you can make a video and cut it together very easily. Just keep pushing. if you are a writer; write. If you’re a director; direct. Network and meet other like minded individuals that believe in your concept and find a way to make it happen. You can always make excuses, but just go out there and do it.
Thank you, Mr. Michael Matteo Rossi. We wish you continued success.