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Matt Meindl, Films Made by Hand

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Matt Meindl, in his own words is a kind of “hodgepodge filmmaker.”

Matt’s films are self-conscious and quirky, often including the filmmaker himself through image, voice, or narrative. Matt and I each returned to our hometown of Columbus a few years ago, and met one another shortly there after. I conducted this recent interview via email.

Daniel King: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you’re currently doing.

Matt Meindl: Well, I’m very tall which makes it hard to find pants. When I was a teenager I started making monster movies with friends and eventually ended up at the University of Toledo, in the film/video program. The films I saw there by Chel White, Ann Marie Fleming and others really changed my idea of what a film could be and I began pushing myself to make work that was more personal and intricate.

I moved back to Columbus after graduating and have pretty much continued on that track. I’m currently trying to finish an experimental super 8 film that I’ve been shooting off and on for something like 5 years now called Inside Out/Side One. It’s a big nostalgic chunk of images and bits that are both old-timey and infinite. I’m trying to see how far I can take collage-style animation before I get bored with it. I’m also writing a new film about a regretful mummy.

DK: Your films blend a variety of visual languages, like stop motion 
animation, still images and eclectic film stock. Years ago, these 
were hallmarks of low budget filmmaking… but today it seems digital video is more economical than ever. What appeals to you about these practices?

MM: Yeah, I’m kind of a hodgepodge filmmaker. I’m always trying out different techniques and creating my own hybridized methods for animation, editing etc. The processes can be pretty tedious and shooting on 16mm and super 8 [film] may seem archaic but I think there is a certain look/feel/energy that is harder to achieve with digital media. Video is swell and cheap and practical but it’s also becoming more and more automated — which means that the results sometimes have less personality. But I’m not a total film purist; I shot Digital Underpants on HDV and I have all my film transferred to video for editing now.

So I sort of exploit what I like about both formats. I think it’s foolish to outright dismiss one or the other. People keep telling me that super 8 is disappearing but Kodak keeps releasing new stocks. In fact, there are more super 8 film stocks available now than in the 1970’s when the format was in its heyday!

DK: Recently you performed a live soundtrack to your film Mumble-Baby. That film strikes me as playful, but deeply personal… almost secretive. Can you tell me a bit about the imagery?

MM: Some of the imagery, especially the saturated sunset, was inspired by Richard Wright’s book “Uncle Tom’s Children” which I was reading at the time. Mumble-Baby was a student film that I made while I was both falling in love and listening to lots of prewar blues. So yeah, love and blues… two things that are emotionally resonant but also mysterious and elusive.

In the film, the wandering bluesman is always silhouetted in the distance, out of reach. You can never really get a handle on the blues because the world it grew out of is all but gone, which I guess makes it easy to romanticize. And love is even more intangible.

I think the playful aspects of the film come from using an optical printer to do the visual effects. Optical printing is an inexact science at best but can be great for experimentation.

I tried all kinds of techniques including multiple-exposure, bi-packing the film, re-photographing at different frame rates and blowing up super 8 to 16mm. I like to perform live music with it now because my singing on the original soundtrack is sort of embarrassing.

Full interview online here!

Matt’s film Digital Underpants is included in the Journal of Short Film, Volume 15 which is produced locally, available now, and includes works from 6 other filmmakers from around the world.

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