Interview with Filmmaker Matthew Gratzner (MUTINY!)

MUTINY! was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the LA COMEDY Festival July 2022.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I wrote the film at the end of 2019 at a very challenging time in America: Just prior to the 2020 election. Mutiny! is actually a very, very subtle commentary on the political climate of a very polarized nation. The character Valentine represents the right, the Captain the left, Mr. Phoebe is a centrist and Mr. Twiddle represents the 24 hour news cycle. But it’s very subtle, I didn’t want to hit people over the head with a heavy handed political commentary– I honestly just wanted to entertain the audience. I love telling contemporary stories set in a different time period– because really, people don’t change.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

If you include the twice delayed start dates because of unseasonable rain in Los Angeles or the pandemic– I wrote the script in September 2019, shot the film in two days mid-January 2020, then we finished the post in February 2021.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Action and Comedy!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Two words: Rain and Pandemic.

Rain: We delayed the film twice because of unseasonable rain in Los Angeles: Once in end of November 2019 and once in the beginning of December 2019. Then when we finally shot mid-January, we had a freak storm cell pass through for 1.5 hours on our first day of production– which required us to re-shoot five pages of dialogue in an hour on our second shoot day because none of the wind and rain footage matched anything else we had shot.
Pandemic: The pandemic hit a week after we started cutting the film and delayed a very small insert shoot to cover the boat landing and treasure chest close-ups. However the pandemic delay gave me the opportunity to build the practical long boat in my living room for the opening of the film; But getting the sound and color correction completed was a challenge because many of the post houses were shut down during the pandemic.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I felt the reactions were great and genuine– and the feelings and opinions of the viewers were exactly what I was going for. I was extremely happy with the response to the film– especially one of the responses, which was “they wanted to see more”, that was very important feedback for me, since I’ve developed Mutiny! into a series with seven subsequent episodes.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Since I was very little– my parents felt it was appropriate to take a four year old to see Blazing Saddles in a drive-in theater. Since then, I’ve always wanted to tell stories any way I could. I was involved with theater as a teenager, and also I have strong background in art– so I love every aspect of filmmaking and have had the good fortune to not only make films, but I’ve contributed to many other filmmakers’ films throughout my career.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Raiders of the Lost Ark

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Anyway you can get films in front of as many industry professionals as possible the better– especially the assistants of studio executives, agents and managers– assistants are one of the best portals to decision makers.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Seamless and one of the most user-friendly portals I’ve ever used for submitting material.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Salad with salmon.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

If all goes to plan, I’m hoping to direct the feature film The Remains in the fall of this year. It’s a Social-Thriller Ghost Story, that couldn’t be farther in tone, theme and subject matter from Mutiny!. But in short, it’s a really great story.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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