I’m starting a new series on The Hollywood Times where I interview various producers as they get ready to release films in HTG Theaters. We’ll start this series with Mattricks.
Mattricks is a veteran producer with HTG known for such Yoda winning works as Americatown, The Gifted Grafton Owls, and Pinball Wizard. After being away for several years, he’s back with the comedy Space Travel on a Budget.
Brianc2008: So what caused you to decide to join HTG back in 2004?
Mattricks: That’s a great question. I remember that I was nearing high school graduation, my basketball season had ended, and my English teacher had talked me into using my creative verbal storytelling to pick up writing to fill that space in my life. I was having trouble finding any joy in it, until I found a link to Film Mogul (the predecessor to HTG). Reading other writers (especially Zero, Random, Teufel, Sureshot, and Bishop) energized me to become a writer and stick around.
Brianc2008: How would you describe the films you wrote for HTG during your first stint here? Were there any favorite genres or specialties?
Mattricks: I wrote a little bit of everything. At first, I was a train wreck of a writer, but luckily one very talented editor (Misio) saw potential in me and took me under his wing. Over time, I found my voice writing tragic comedy, winning three straight Best Original Screenplay awards.
However, at the time of my peak, I feel I was more influential as the founder of The Slacker Mafia. For those who don’t remember or weren’t there at the time, the Slacker Mafia consisted of myself, Misio, Bishop, Durden, Marty, and Newman. At our peak, we won every award at an award show with the exception of two. I still keep in touch with every member. Marty was even the best man at my wedding.
Brianc2008: What made you decide to leave in 2010?
Mattricks: In January of 2010, my oldest daughter was born. With my writing career on the upswing, the rest of the Slacker Mafia no longer here, and the new stress of raising a child, I felt it was time to go. As someone who never attended regular college, that is what HTG felt like. I had peers (Slacker Mafia), rivals (Graham, Pedro, and Corey), and even professors (Sureshot and Marlowe). Hell, a lot of our conversations are about the good times we had at HTG. A second child and The Arcadist being optioned by Numenorean Films (before they went into Christian filmmaking) halted any chance of a return until now.
Brianc2008: What made you decide to come back here?
Mattricks: Durden and I were bored one night and during a conversation about the old days we both decided to browse the site and see who was still around. I’m divorced now and I only have my kids every other weekend so with the added free time, I felt it was time to return. Maybe I have something to offer to the next generation of writers much like Misio did for me. I’d love to see the game as healthy as it was in its peak and I’m here to stay.
Brianc2008: So what is Space Travel on a Budget about?
Mattricks: It’s about a homeschooled foster child with a rocket engineering obsession who decides to run away after graduating at 15 years old. He seeks out his hero to help him with a small jet pack project, but learns that the man has abandoned an actual illegal rocket ship due to his lover leaving him and a deteriorating health issue caused by a lifetime of drinking. It’s up to the boy to salvage the mission by convincing his hero’s lover to return. Getting in the way includes an evil Dutch cult hellbent on securing the rocket, an eccentric philanthropist star person who is seeking funding for a rocket of his own, and the college girl who lives down the hall.
Brianc2008: What drew you to the subject of space travel?
Without giving too much away, the term “space travel” is a bit of a misdirection. What drew me was the idea of taking a character out of his world and putting him into a brand new one.
Brianc2008: Oh, I see. What drew you to the actors you used to film the movie?
Mattricks: After having such great success with Bill Murray in Pinball Wizards, we were both itching to work together again. Zooey Deschanel as his ageless lover and Adrien Brody as the eccentric philanthropist were also no brainers. As Helga, the evil cult leader with an even darker secret developed, it was decided that Noomi was perfect to play her and she was eager to play a villain. The younger actors were difficult. For Albert, our protagonist, we needed someone with versatility. The final three came down to Tye Sheridan, Nat Wolff, and Kodi. Kodi knocked the audition out of the park and I think he holds his own in his many scenes with Bill. For Emma, the anime artist he falls for, it was narrowed down to Emma Watson, Emma Stone, and Saorise Ronan. Watson tested best with Kodi and she does great playing a very guarded yet sensitive character.
Brianc2008: I see that you’re a prolific actor on HTG as well. What types of projects drew your interest?
Mattricks: Before Jesse Eisenberg took over the world, there was me! I would only take roles in films from writers who I trusted. Harmer was the trailblazer. He was the HTG version of Bruce Campbell. I respect the hell out of that, but it wasn’t for me. Being able to work with Mendes and Wes Anderson is insane, really.
Brianc2008: What goals do you want to accomplish on HTG in your second go round?
Mattricks: Besides hoping to help bring the game back to having 2 or more releases every weekend, I’m hoping to write and release 2-3 scripts a year. I’ve never been interested in the RPG part of the game, so maybe if I could take on a bigger role as a writing scout, mentor, czar – that would be great.
Brianc2008: If you had unlimited funds/time/interest, what would be your ideal project to tackle on HTG?
Mattricks: You’re asking the wrong man. I’m terrible at adaptations. Maybe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Workaholics?
Brianc2008: Thanks for your time.
Mattricks: No problem.
Space Travel on a Budget which stars Bill Murray, Zooey Deschanel, Emma Watson, Adrien Brody and Kodi Smit-McPhee opens this Friday in HTG Theaters.
I’d like to thank Mattricks for agreeing to do this interview, the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series.
, Space Travel on a Budget