Filmmaker Focus: Matthew Maio Mackay

Cinema Australia Original Content:

Matthew Maio Mackay.

“Filmmaking is not a phase. This is something I want to pursue long-term, especially writing and directing in film, television and theatre.”

Matthew Maio Mackay is a young Australian filmmaker whose credits include Book Club, Bestia, Smothered, A Tale of the Laundry Game, Love and Blood and Tooth 4 Tooth.

Interview by Joanne Kmaid

If you could tell the world one thing that matters to you, what would that be?
In the words of Bella Thorne, American Actress, Director and Poet, “Everyone suffers some injustice in life, and what better motivation than to help others not suffer in the same way.”

How does a 15-year-old juggle school, family and making films?
I’m a bit like Dawson from the ‘90s hit show, Dawson’s Creek, in the sense that I prioritise filmmaking (family and friends). School is the necessary good! [Smiles]. I am so blessed to have parents who support my filmmaking endeavours. The Australian and International Film Industries have also been very supportive of my work.

How did you attain the rights to adapt Stephen King’s short story, A Tale of the Laundry Game?
I am always seeking new film initiatives to broaden my experiences in writing, directing and producing. The Dollar Babies program was an excellent opportunity to do just that with the bonus of gaining from Stephen King’s wide appeal. I pitched my ideas for his story, A Tale of the Laundry Game, together with some background information regarding my production company and previous film achievements. Shortly after sending my online application, I received a letter of confirmation and the contract. Apart from sealing the contract with a payment of $1 USD to Stephen King, the film adaptation had to be completed and sent to him by snail mail within 12 months. All communication was via his management.

How much of the script could you alter?
I was allowed creative freedom in the adaptation. This included converting some of the American colloquialisms to suit the Australian language and ensuring that the story was standalone, as the novella is part of an unfinished novel.

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With such a grim horror genre, were there any funny moments during filming?
There were certainly some moments that were funny retrospectively, but perhaps not in the moment or to anyone not involved in the production! [Smiles].

Did you skip a decade? You sound way beyond your years.
Thank you very much, I appreciate that! Filmmaking is not a phase. This is something I want to pursue long-term, especially writing and directing in film, television and theatre. I have been writing stories from a very young age. For me, transferring them on-screen is an opportunity to see my stories come to life and to provide a unique voice about issues that are important to me.

Tell us about your next project
I have several projects underway. I have just wrapped up a short film, Tooth 4 Tooth that I directed, co-wrote with Ben P. Robinson and co-produced with Matthew Brice. It is my largest production to date. The synopsis is as follows – “The streets have always been dangerous for those who are hated and misunderstood.” It tackles the social injustices regarding minority groups in the current political climate. The film stars Australian actors, Max Garcia-Underwood, Shabana Azeez, Brendan Cooney and James McCluskey-Garcia. It also has appearances from American and Canadian actors, Drew Droege and Phil Nichol. I am also working on an original musical short titled, Rot n’ Roll, which features a cameo from Eddie Perfect (Offspring, Beetlejuice)

When will ‘Tooth 4 Tooth’ be released and where can Cinema Australia readers see the film?
It will be released widely online and the trailer will be released within the next few weeks. However, it will be doing the festival circuit first.

Do you tend to work with the same actors or broaden your film contacts?
My priority is to ensure that the actor suits the role that I have envisioned. If I have worked with an actor before and it has been a positive experience, and they fit the designated role, I will approach them and ask them to audition. I am blessed that I have a group of talented actors that support my vision in film. However, I am always open to finding new talent and developing new contacts both in Australia and overseas.

Directing and writing, do they go hand in hand?
Yes, they complement each other! Not only can you create the story, but you can ensure that your vision is successfully translated on-screen. Many of the writers that inspire me are also directors, like Lorene Scafaria, Rightor Doyle and Darren Star.

Does it bother you that many Australian creatives don’t get paid for their work?
I think it’s a reflection on the lack of funding within the Australian industry and the lack of recognition for many of the creative roles. Sometimes we don’t receive payment for our work, but we do it for the art. In an ideal world, everyone should get paid for their role in the industry.

This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia contributor Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration please contact us today.

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