Interview with Matt Szymanowski | director of History of Solitude

mattPlease introduce yourself:
My name is Matt Szymanowski. I’m a filmmaker, writer and teacher. I was born in Cupertino, California, a small suburban town south of San Francisco. I’m a first generation Polish American.

When did you start your career?
I was interested in filmmaking since I was a teenager.  I’ve been working as a video producer in San Francisco since I left film school in Poland in 2009. I also teach film and I run a small production company called Wolves Films.

Can you describe us the reasoning behind History of Solitude (2008)”?
History of Solitude was very much my first big experiment in cinema. I was watching all kinds of new and old films and I wanted to utilize all these different storytelling and cinema techniques. At the core of the film was a very simple story about a boy and a girl whose relationship slowly crumbles.

How long did the development of your film take?
We shot a total of 12 days, split up into three shoots, over the span of about eight months. From writing to completion the process took about two years. We had a very small team. I took on a majority of the work and everyone else was a volunteer.

Can you describe what was most challenging about shooting your film?
Most of all it was difficult to keep the momentum going on the project. After the first few days of shooting we realized that we didn’t have a movie. I began planning again from scratch. I had to work and raise more money. I wrote more scenes and I recruited my actors and cinematographer again. Keeping everyone enthusiastic and interested takes a lot of energy.

According to your artistic point, who or what is the main inspiration for representing the concept of your story?
I’ll answer this way:The main inspiration for the story was to express a feeling of misunderstanding. A young man and woman come together after a separation. They struggle to connect. I also really wanted to make a road movie.

How do you see the role of an independent artist nowadays?
Artists all strive to be independent. The more personal their work is the deeper the connection with an audience usually. If we are not working to emphasize some aspect of the human condition than we are entertainers or commercial artists trying to sell a service or product or a combination of these. It’s rare that anyone can truly be an artist without having to sell their skills. Compromise with idealism is very common though shouldn’t totally derail one’s ultimate goals.

What’s next? Are there any other projects that you are currently working at?
My debut feature “The Purple Onion” will have its world premiere in early 2015. It’s a dark comedy about a stand up comedian who finds solace in a sexual experience with an older woman. I’m also working on a web series based on one-act plays written by incarcerated youth.

Screening films online – what are your thoughts about that? What do you think is the future of web and films?
Distribution is changing. Viewing habits are changing. Screen sizes are changing. We need to embrace new media and learn new ways how to utilize it.

And finally, what do you think about EuroIFC?
By promoting the work of independent artists and filmmakers EuroIFC is making it easier to connect with audiences. This gives me more courage that I am not making films in a void.

Watch ‘History of Solitude’ here.
Find out more about Matt Szymanowski and his other projects here.