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An interview with Matt Jenkins, writer of Rage, Fear, Love"

The film's exploration of themes such as betrayal, obsession, and the power dynamics within relationships is thought-provoking. Matt Jenkins' script delves into the depths of human psychology, blurring the lines between reality and imagination.


Filmtage : What inspired you to become an independent filmmaker, and how has your journey been so far in this challenging industry?


Matt Jenkins : Coming from a family where art and mechanical engineering were important, filmmaking combines the best of both of these influences while satisfying my creative urge.


The journey is an interesting one. I agree the industry is challenging. Once I dropped the illusion of grandeur and embraced the art of filmmaking, the journey became fulfilling. Don’t let other people define your art, you created it, you name it. For a while I struggled with finding the audience for our films. Now I know who and where they are and I bring our work to them.


Filmtage : What inspired you to become an independent filmmaker, and how has your journey been so far in this challenging industry?


Matt Jenkins : As a constrained budget producer, I believe the creative process takes place on paper. While I may not have the financial resources of a big budget production or the luxury of time to spend filming the movie, or have access to all the locations I desire or people to work on or appear in the production; I do have time to spend writing the script. A well written script is the essential road map to production. I can develop the intricacies of the characters and the ebb and flow of story through the script and take my time rewriting and shaping the story.


I also have time for planning the production. I take my time conducting breakdowns, deciding camera angles and, thinking about lighting placement. I actually enjoy figuring out how much time is needed at each location and how many days we need each actor. While I enjoy the actual filming the movie, if I have a well written script and thoroughly planned the production, actual filming becomes more of an assembly process.


When I write the script, I remember to keep in mind the basic constructs of micro-budget production: keep the number of actors low and keep the number of locations low. Pat Bishow of Amusement Films says when he writes, he looks at what is around him to use in his movie and includes it in his script. I do the same thing. The painting in “Rage, Fear, Love” is an abstract portrait my daughter painted. I love this painting and wrote the script to incorporate it.


Filmtage : The film you submitted has received critical acclaim for its unique style and narrative. Can you share the creative decisions and influences that contributed to the film's success?


Matt Jenkins : Getting the best actors I could find was a key ingredient to this movie. The actors who appear in “Rage, Fear, Love” are fantastic. Finding the right locations is also important for a successful movie. If the locations do not look believable then the movie will not be as successful. The character’s motivations and the story must be believable. It doesn’t have to be realistic but the audience has to buy in that the story is plausible.


I am a big fan of the director Robert Rodriguez. He once said, “The more you know the less someone else can tell you how to do it.” While I agree with this premise, I believe filmmaking is a collaborative process. As the filmmaker I need to surround myself with people who share the vision for the production. As a filmmaker I need to listen to their input while reserving the final decision for myself. The people who work with me do not take it personally if I do not choose their advice. They know we are working toward the collective goal of making a distinct and unique movie. That’s why I do not refer to the production as “my movie.” It’s “our movie.”


I am pleased to read our movie received “acclaim for its unique style and narrative.” While my goal is to produce a movie people will want to see, I’m not interested in creating the next super hero movie. I purposely work to create a different film experience. Regarding “Rage, Fear, Love” The London based Monkey Bread Tree Film Awards said, “It’s rare to see a cast enjoy the quirky script in the indie scene.” To me this is a compliment.

In “Rage, Fear, Love” the artist, Bluster Dahbro, was written with the phobia of smelling bad. This fear is real for a lot of people. In fact after a viewing it was remarked to me, “Bluster is us.” The audience identifies with him and his fears.


I study films. Certainly Wes Anderson films and other current films influence me. However I like to watch films from different time periods and genres. I am a big fan of German Expressionism. From the “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.” This was Murnau’s Hollywood debut but still possesses elements of Expressionism. I influenced by the thematic editing of “Berlin: a Symphony of a City.” Our latest movie “Static in the Ether” incorporates a multitude of montage sequences in it.

Knowing the constraints we face, I produce our movies in a similar fashion to the American International Pictures of the 1950s through the 1970s. According to Encylopedia.com, “With miniscule budgets; ten or fifteen –day shooting schedules, recycled sets and churned – out screenplays, AIP changed the way movies were made by creating a demand for a brand new kind of low-budget entertainment.”


While I do not create or use “churned-out screenplays” the rest of the AIP production model is applicable to our production process.


Filmtage : Independent filmmakers often face challenges in distribution and reaching a wider audience. What strategies have you employed to promote and share your work with a broader community?


Matt Jenkins : I write my scripts following Syd Field’s three act screenplay paradigm. Many film books scorn this method of screenplay writing. However, once I started following Field’s Three Act screenplay paradigm my movie festival acceptance rate increased 50%. I am a big believer in this.


I work with a local independent movie theater here in Oklahoma to provide a “real movie” experience through premiering my movies there. I “four wall” the movie. “Four walling” means to rent the theater, sell the tickets, do the promotion for it and so on.

In festival selection, I study what the festival programmer or director says about the festival to see if my movie is a “fit” for the festival.


When a movie is selected for a festival, I implement a social media campaign to announce the film’s latest accolade.


And after a movie’s festival run is completed, I attempt to find a streaming service to place the movie. If this effort is unsuccessful, I upload the movie to a site called Archive.ORG. This is an excellent site. While I do not make any money from the views, neither does the site. Many of my movies have much larger views from this site than they would ever have on YouTube.


Filmtage : As an independent filmmaker, you have the freedom to explore diverse and unconventional subjects. Could you tell us about a particular project that was close to your heart and the importance of bringing that story to the screen?


Matt Jenkins : I greatly appreciate the freedom to explore diverse, unconventional and quirky subjects. “Rage, Fear, Love” is definitely close to my heart. The portrait at the center of the movie has hung on the wall in my home for years. Every time I passed by and looked at it I said to myself, “I love this painting so much; I have to make a movie with it.” With the painting as my muse, the script was created. I am pleased how the characters developed. A point made by your festival in a comment I received read, “The film's exploration of themes such as betrayal, obsession, and the power dynamics within relationships is thought-provoking.”


It is exciting to see a story of the collision of art and human interaction and manipulation be well received by festivals.







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