Interview With Filmmaker, Matt Forrey: The People Who Helped Bring SHOT to Life
Little known fact: It takes a lot more than just a writer to bring the best possible version of a book into the world. I learned that lesson early on in the process of writing SHOT: A couple, a Country, and the Stubborn Quest for Hope. Over the past two years, I have been blessed to work with a talented team of editors, proofreaders, cover designers, writing coaches, and visual storytellers who have brought their wisdom and talent to the table. The book would not have been the same without them.
That’s why I’m thrilled to share this series of blog posts where I will be interviewing the key people who helped bring SHOT to life.
First up in the series: filmmaker, Matt Forrey.
Statistics show that crowdfunding campaigns are 85% more likely to succeed if they have a video clearly explaining the what, why, and how behind the project. As we began to plan our Kickstarter campaign for SHOT, we knew right away we needed to find a great visual storyteller. Someone who could create a micro version of the book and highlight our passion for it. In video form.
That’s when we teamed up with Matt and his production company, Forrey Films. Together, we brainstormed ideas, hashed out a script, and spent a full day shooting all over Long Beach and Sunset Beach. Here is what we came up with:
I caught up with Matt several weeks ago to chat about his former internship with Invisible Children, his belief in the power of storytelling, and the advice he has for others who want to break into video production.
Christy Krumm Richard:
On the website for Forrey Films, you discuss your belief in “stepping outside your comfort zone in order to find your natural talents and apply them to what you are most passionate about.” Is that how you discovered your talent as a filmmaker -- by stepping outside your comfort zone?
In many ways, yes. I wasn’t always on the path of video production and filmmaking. I was actually pursuing firefighting when I was in my early twenties. I had a degree in it, I was volunteering for Riverside county, and I had an EMT certification.
Then in 2006, I went on this mission trip to India where I got to live and work in an orphanage for a couple of weeks. I was really moved by that experience and the stories of transformation I was hearing about in India and God’s movement through them.
While I was there, I also had to do lots of things I wouldn’t usually feel comfortable with. For example, they are very musical in India and I was part of a small team of non musicians. We were visiting a village one afternoon and they asked us to sing a song to the villagers. I wouldn’t consider myself musically inclined, but because I had been in charge of displaying all the slides with the worship song lyrics at church, I knew all the words and just decided to lead everybody in singing. [He laughs.] I would never feel comfortable doing that here in the US!
Overall, the trip to India showed me a lot about who I am and my creative side. So I came home and started making a slideshow of all the photos I had taken. As I was arranging the pictures, I just got this feeling -- this knowing, and I said to myself, “I want to make movies. That’s what I want to do.”
So then what? How did you start to pursue this new path?
I didn’t know anything about filmmaking. I asked myself what type of films I would want to make, and the Invisible Children Rough Cut documentary had really inspired me. So, I applied for the first internship at Invisible Children, which was actually for event planning, not filmmaking. But I knew it would at least get me in the building so I could talk to the filmmakers and ask questions.
The internship turned into a job working as an assistant at Invisible Children and I was there for a total of two years. In my off time, I got to work in their media room and do random tasks. I also got to have conversations about filmmaking and what I would need to do to get into it.
When the market crashed in 2008, I and a few others on staff got let go and that layoff actually gave me the opportunity to go to Malawi, Africa. The youth pastor at my church was shooting a documentary about kids soccer in Malawi for a nonprofit called The Chisomo Idea. We ended up making a thirty minute film, and that whole experience solidified that yes, this was the right path for me.
So, when and how did you start Forrey Films?
Shortly after that, my friend and roommate started a video production company that focused on making wedding videos. I became his second shooter and assistant editor. I made a job out of that for the next few years doing freelance video work until I got married in 2011 and decided I needed to make more money. [Laughs] That’s when I started Forrey Films. I’ve done a few promotional videos for different companies and some short documentaries, but weddings have really been my bread and butter.
As I move forward, I want to start doing more documentaries and more feature films. Narrative stuff, like brand identity films for businesses. I’m also in pre-production now for another documentary short that I’m shooting next month. It’s based on a story I heard while driving to work one day and listening to an interview on NPR. They were interviewing an MIT graduate who had quit her job in investment banking so that she could start a sustainable business in Compton, and bring jobs to local residents. And she doesn't discriminate in the hiring process based on anyone's past or education.
I will be telling some of her employees' back stories, as well as highlighting the path of her business in South Los Angeles.
That sounds awesome! What makes you so passionate about storytelling?
It has the power to inspire change.
Nicely put :). Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue filmmaking?
Pursue story first, before anything else. Develop a thick skin. And buckle down because it’s a hustle. It’s not like this is the easiest profession to pursue. It’s an art. I mean, you understand that, right?
[Laughs] All too well.
Matt Forrey has been working in video production and filmmaking since 2008. He is the founder of Forrey Films, which specializes in creating narrative films for nonprofits, businesses, and weddings. He lives in Lakewood, CA with his wife and two kids, ages three years old, and ten months.