What was your filmmaking background before you made My Sweet Misery?
MATTHEW: After pursuing a Masters degree in English at the University of South Carolina, I became a recluse for many years. During this time, I became obsessed with films and filmmaking. Ultimately, I emerged to write, direct, and edit My Sweet Misery, but I'm still a bit of a recluse.
Where did you get the idea for the film?
MATTHEW: I know that the traditional route for films is that the story idea comes first, and that the characters are essentially plugged into the story. The process works in reverse for me, for whatever reason. The characters begin to take shape in my head first, and the story actually comes out of the characters.
How did you script the film and how did that script change during the shooting?
MATTHEW: I wrote my first draft with pen and paper, in a large and now weathered notebook, obsessing over each scene and shaping each scene until I was ready to move on and transition to the next. So when I actually typed a draft into a computer, it was essentially a third or fourth draft, and it didn't change much from there, aside from a minor tweak or two. The final film is remarkably similar to the script.
What technology did you employ to shoot the film and what did you like about it?
MATTHEW: We shot it on Super 16mm film, and we even shot a few brief sequences on Super 8mm for effect. I love the aesthetic of film, and I think it's worth all of the intrinsic hassles in order to capture that aesthetic.
How did you fund the film?
MATTHEW: It was raised, bit by bit, through private investors, almost all of whom we knew on some personal level. The budget is very small. It's probably the lowest budget conceivable to shoot a feature-length movie on film with.
What was the smartest thing you did during pre-production or production? The dumbest?
MATTHEW: I'll tell you what, I'll answer the same thing for both: I chose to shoot on film. It was smart to stick to my guns with that, because the aesthetic is important to the movie. It was dumb in that it made post-production 1,000 times trickier. At the end of a long road, I'm still happy with the choice, but there's nothing easy about using film on a micro-budget.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?
MATTHEW: I learned so much that it's difficult to narrow down here. Most importantly, I learned the areas in which I can compromise just a little, without it damaging movie, and the areas in which I absolutely cannot compromise and cannot give an inch, ever. That's important stuff to know.