Jersey Film Director Takes a Shine to Baltimore
“Ok, put the jacket on the back of your chair like you’ve been there for a while,” the director says. “Get up and try circling, pacing. At this point, it’s the end of the line for you. Remember, you’ve just gone over the edge.”
Filmmaker Matthew Barry guides his cast through a scene of his latest short, “A Simple Misunderstanding,” in a small Lutherville doctor’s office. Local actor George Stover plays Dr. Teagarten, a therapist being seduced by his troubled patient with marriage problems, played by Barry’s friend Laura Bianca. Stover starred in John Waters’ cult classic “Female Trouble” and all eleven films by Baltimore-born sci-fi/horror director Don Dohler
An hour later, Barry clicks off his Samsung HD camera and his friend Bill Linzey switches off the work lamps. “That’s one of the most difficult shots I’ve had in a while. It looks good. Let’s do it again.”
Barry grew up in Norrisville and studied electronic media and film at Towson University
. In 2009, he moved to New York to pursue a masters’ degree at New York University in cinema studies. He now has nearly 60 short films under his belt and works as a publicity manager for a New York independent film distributor and talks films on his blog the Art and Culture of Movies
. When it comes to shooting and screening films, Barry prefers Charm City.
BmoreMedia talked to Barry about his career highlights, filming in Baltimore and what he plans to do next.
How do you promote your movies?
By showing stuff on YouTube. I started posting back on 2006. I use social media heavily. For one of my first videos 10 years ago, there was really no way. Myspace was popular and you couldn’t even load a video, would take an hour. For this (project), I’ll talk to people who may have access to venues for stand-alone screenings. I plan to submit it to the Maryland Film Festival.
So you’re sticking to shorts?
I’m hoping the next year or two to develop a feature-length project, but I don’t feel like short films are just junior feature, I always feel like they are self contained films in their own right, and I never feel limited by format. It’s really about what’s right for the story.
How did you come up with “A Simple Misunderstanding”?
I’m heavily influenced by the great stories of the film noirs so I’m drawn to these dark stories. My ideas lately all sort of seem to be in that vein. My all time favorite film is Detour. It’s a film noir that accomplishes a lot on a very small budget. It was made in 1945 on the outskirts of Hollywood.
What’s your budget like?
: Next to nothing, I’d say $200-$300. I think the biggest expense is probably getting food for the cast and crew. It’s really a labor of love. I work with a lot of borrowed equipment or equipment that I already own.
You moved to one of the filmmaking capitals. Why do you still choose to film in Baltimore?
I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of people who are willing to volunteer their time and contribute their skills. I’ve worked with George before, he’s done so many films and I’m a big fan of his work. I met him through Lee Doll while doing “The Adventures of Louanna Lee.” I was on board to help direct that, and George was cast in that. And then Bill’s worked with me on at least three or four films we’ve done over the past 4 years, and I’ve worked with Laura on two previous films.
Describe the Baltimore film scene.
It's very diverse. When I was going to school here, there were so many people making different kinds of films. There was a big horror film scene. There are people who are more open to working on experimental projects. I’m able to do narrative filmmaking here because there’s just a variety of locations and good access to actors.
What were your first films like?
When I was nine, right after getting a video camera for the first time I made a film called “The Christmas Miracle.” It’s a film that you’d expect to see from a 9-year-old. After I graduated from Towson I made the decision that even if I wasn’t going to be commissioned to make a film for a reason, I would just keep working. I did a comedy called “Laughter and Medicine.” It was about a medical student who returns home to his parents after med school with the disappointing news that instead of opening his own practice he wants to travel the road as a standup comedian.
How have you grown as a director?
I’ve tried to move away from out and out imitating other filmmakers. I’m trying to take the influences but channel them in to what I’m trying to do. I’ve also gotten more sensitive with working with actors; in other projects I didn’t give as much thought.
BmoreMedia writer and editor Jolene Carr is a graduate student at Towson University. She is originally from Syracuse, N.Y.
First two photographs by STEVE RUARK. All others courtesy of Matt Barry.