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Hagerstown's Matt Matzen's new film stays on darker side

Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown

April 07, 2013|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com
  • Matt Matzen directed the film "Awake" which will be shown at the Maryland International Film Festival in Hagerstown.
Colleen McGrath / Colleen McGrath

At 28 years old, director-editor Matt Matzen is quickly becoming a veteran of the film festival circuit.

The Hagerstown filmmaker's last short film, "The Darkness and Tom Markos," took home fan favorite in September 2012, at HorrorFind Weekend in Gettysburg, Pa.

Now he can add a showing, and maybe another prize, at his hometown film festival — Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown. His new film, "Awake," will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Academy Theater.

Fans of Matzen's won't be disappointed as he stays on the darker side in his new short film.

The story focuses on Greg Burton, a man who has lost in way in life.

"He's kind of gone in a downward spiral of binge drinking and drugs," Matzen explains. "His outlook on the world has become numb."

The audience follows Greg as he cocoons himself from the outside world and what eventually happens.

The story, which Matzen co-wrote with Rob Talbert of Hagerstown, stays in the same vein as his earlier films, which also included "Black Eyed Children."

Matzen said although this is similar to past works, it does take a new direction.

"This really has a lot more serious tone," he said. "It's more of a modern film noir. Mainly a narration with visuals. This was a lot different to attack because it's not a dialogue-driven piece. ... Almost a stream of consciousness."

An early concept was brought to Matzen from Talbert. Matzen said he had he liked the original idea but wanted to take it into a different direction. The result was "Awake."

Matzen, whose day job is a web developer, said he already has plans for another film. The full-length feature is called "Project Dogfish," which he describes as "'cabin fever in space."

"We're trying to really raise big money for that one, as opposed to just raising a couple grand," he said.

Through his company, Neo Reel Entertainment, Matzen has launched a Kickstarter campaign as a way to raise the cash for the project.

He's hoping that he'll be able to connect with others at the festival.

"The networking alone is worth more than any dollar amount," he said.

One thing that money can't buy at a festival is buzz.

He'll have to wait until Friday night to see if he's accomplished his goal.

 Matzen is careful to let the film speak for itself instead of telling the audience specifically what they should take away from the film.

"I really hope that people take away their own thing at the end," he said. "We've screened it to a lot of others and they all have a different opinion. Some have a more religious take. Some people have a more atheist take on it. I don't want to hound what my intention at the end of the film was. I really like and enjoy hearing other people's opinions."

That's why, Matzen said, he wants the audience to connect with what's at the base of the film.

"That we as a society, we are kind of hearing ourselves talk versus listening to others," he said. "If there's anything from the story, a moral I want them to take away — it's that."



If you go ...

What: Screening of "Awake"

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12

Where: Bridge of Life, 14 S. Potomac St, downtown Hagerstown

Cost: $10, which includes screening of "Lion" and "Twenty Million People"

Contact: To purchase tickets, go to www.mdtheatre.org or call 301-790-3500.


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