Observant, with a remarkable sense of humor, this could be a way to describe Matthew Frost. In his short films, music videos and pictures this New-York based filmmaker shares his bittersweet but yet tender point of view on people, life and fashion. Through his lens, Matthew shows it-girls and great actresses, alongside with lost men and pet cemeteries: all a fantastic, glittering, fun and normal world.
Could you tell us who you are: where did you grow up, what was your life like as a child, and now, where do you live, how is your daily life?
Well, I was born in London but moved to the south of France, around Nice, when I was a kid. I’m English/American. My life as a child was great! I moved to study in California and I now live in New York. I travel a lot in my daily life!
Why did you want to make films, at first? Did you study filmmaking?
Film is what came first and I started photography after. I studied Film at Berkeley, but started making stuff afterwards, once I moved to LA. I always wanted to tell stories one way or another.
How interesting/hard/easy have your first years as a filmmaker been? And what were your first projects?
Making films isn’t easy but making a living from it was even harder. My first video was a big deal! It was about my friend Tennessee Thomas passing her driving test in the Los Angeles valley.
Then you started creating music videos, how did that happen?
Well, I was always more interested in narrative videos, so it was all about finding the right music to make video to. The ones I did for M83 where a perfect fit because their music is so cinematic.
What about your encounter with Larry Clark?
He’s a character I spent a lot of time with him during Wassup Rockers. He’s a sweet guy who has a very clear idea of what he likes and what he thinks is shit!
Do you have some mentors in filmmaking, or photography? Or do you have any artists you feel identified with, some main references you never forget about?
There are so many people’s work that I love but there’s not one thing or any specific person I systematically go back to. As long as it makes me laugh and has a good story... I am a big photography book fan and I love collecting them. I have a Bill Owens book in front of me right now called Our Kind Of People.
Who is in your team, who are those people you particularly enjoy working with, special friends in the fashion and movie industries?
I love working with Delphine Dahnier who’s a good friend and a great stylist. Alexi Zabe is also a talented cinematographer I’ve been shooting with a lot. If they’re both with me on set, I know I can be myself and everything is going to be OK!
Do you have fun directing commercials too?
I love directing commercials, it’s an amazing job to be able to do. I’m glad I can bring what I know to the table, show how I would do it and be of help in that world.
Your it girls' short movies are kind of funny, especially “Fashion Film” with Lizzy Caplan or “Une Fille Comme les Autres”… they are ironic, but in a soft and tender way. Is that the way you see fashion, a communication, in general?
Yes, I like a more subtle approach to humor. For me the more direct it is, the more negative and finger pointing, the less funny it is. Humor is one of the most important things in communication in general, it can smoothen anything out and really helps to get a point across. At least for me!
What about photography? Why did you move to photography as well?
At first photography was a way of keeping busy in between film projects but I then started getting assignments and begun to take it more and more seriously.
What do you prefer about this medium? Do you manage to express yourself as much as you do in your movies? (Looks like it when we see your “Falling Down Cancun” story for example).
Glad you noticed the “Falling Down Cancun” series! For once, and it’s rare, I was able to portray a real character that you felt was going through some kind of emotional turmoil. I wish I had made a film about him, so I guess that if I’m thinking that it is a good sign! Especially in the course of a fashion story that is usually stale after a couple of pages, repetitive and overly referential to other people’s work… I do look forward to more photo stories with a fashion element in which I’m able to do that. However, film still is a much harder and ambitious format with which I get a lot more pleasure out of specially because of that.
With so much work, how do you manage to stay creative and give a fresh but yet recognizable point of view on things?
I think for me it’s just about putting myself in situations where I’m forced to use my instincts in order to get it done. Even if the project requires a lot of precise preparation, I always try and keep room for not knowing what is going to happen. Whether it’s good or bad it will feel more unique to you.
Can you tell us a bit about your first book, “Little people in fur coats”?
This came from the M83 video Graveyard Girl initially. A couple of years later, I went back to pet cemeteries everywhere I would travel to and compiled enough pictures to make the small book with the help of my designer friend Laurent Fetis. I’m actually thinking of taking more pet cemetery pics and turning it into a bigger book!
Would you like to make a full-length feature film as well some day? Do you have some other special projects in mind?
Yes, that is my goal. I have a lot of opportunities right now and I’m making sure I choose the right project for it, so I’m writing and working on several ideas! Writing is so much fun but also a game of patience and endurance!