A special feature on Michael Matteo Rossi. The film producer, writer, and director, talks to us about his professional journey and provides some sound advice to new talent who want to forge a career in the movie industry.
Just keep writing, keep directing and keep meeting like-minded individuals.
Michael was born in Los Angeles. His love of writing, producing and directing would see him forge a successful professional career. In 2011, he wrote, directed and produced; The Last Wish, which received several notable awards.
In 2013, Michael directed, produced and wrote; The Misogynist, where he was awarded best narrative feature at the Los Angeles Underground Film Festival.
His want and need to create an action/thriller would see him pick up awards for; Chase. This would cement his brand in the action genre and receive multiple prestigious awards.
I managed to catch up with him and talk to him about his life journey, advice for new talent and his forthcoming project. His professional journey is defined by a strong work ethic, sheer determination, and want to make his mark in his sector. A writer, producer and director, he offers sound advice based on his journey.
Advice for new talent
What advice would you give new talent?
I would tell them to stay connected and work on their craft every single day. Social media might feel like both a blessing and a curse, but if you use it to your advantage, you can benefit. Meeting other creatives and showcasing your work on social media platforms is a powerful tool to have. You have to embrace the available tools and love or hate it; at this time, it’s an excellent opportunity to showcase your creativity.
The key to success
Do you think that being in the right place at the right time is the key to success as a movie producer?
From my perspective, it can help, but it’s not everything; you have to plan and work accordingly to better yourself at your craft regardless. Of course, a little luck always helps, but putting yourself in opportunities where that can happen comes from hard work and effort. There are occasions where you can create opportunity; it’s almost an art, and you really have to work at it.
What will you be remembered for?
You write, produce and direct. Of those three, which one do you think people will remember you for?
I would Probably say directing because that’s what I enjoy doing the most, and working with my actors and crew to prep at production stages to bring the written story to life is one of my passions.
Bringing something to life from nothing is extremely rewarding for me. Also, fusing all the various components of making a movie storyboard evolve into an actual movie is a wonderful feeling.
Do you ever switch off, or do you constantly look at life from a camera’s perspective?
Of course, I can ‘switch off and focus on non-film things, but at the same time, film is what I breathe and love to do most in life, so it’s also constantly on my mind every single day.
If you are a creative person, you will find that it doesn’t work on a switch that you turn off and on. For example, sometimes an idea can pop into your head at the most impromptu time, and you feel that you really want to act on it.
That said, making time for yourself away from a working environment has never been so important. So my advice would be to try and find a good work-life balance.
Can you force creativity, or do you need the right set of circumstances?
You ultimately need to have the drive and passion for wanting to do what you love. People can try to give you advice or try to steer you in the right direction, but it has to come from you and what you love to do.
Your own circumstances can play a part in just how creative you can be. So try and understand when you are most productive and try and accommodate it into your lifestyle.
How do you think the movie industry will adapt post Pandemic?
People have a desire to be entertained through film, so that won’t change; maybe how we film or get it out there might. I’m old school though, I love the theatres and going there, using tangible DVD’s and Blu-rays, so I hope it doesn’t change too much.
Society as a whole had a temporary setback, and we have all had to make significant changes to our lives in one way or another, but history has shown us that some things are embedded in our lives that will put up a fight to stay around; cinema is just one example of that.
Failure Vs Success
Are you scared of failure?
I’m only scared of not trying harder, and that won’t happen because this is the only thing I want to do, and I’ve been plugging away for about 15 years now.
Failure is a concept that you can take two ways; either it will make you stronger or take you down. Being scared of it can impact an individuals level of creativity. I embrace the concept of never being scared to try, and I attribute that to my success in writing, producing and directing.
If I wrote a book about you, what would the title be? Why?
The passionate goofball has a nice ring to it. I identify with not taking life too seriously and having fun. I’m very fortunate to do something I love, so those two elements fuse very well together.
What are the three personality traits that a director should identify with? Why?
Driven, ambitious and creative. No one element can work on its own; combining those elements will help you build a strong foundation in this sector. In addition, they will help you create a disciplined work ethic that is very much needed in order to develop a successful career.
Experience Vs Qualifications
What is better, experience or qualifications? Why?
Qualifications usually come with experience, so they are both important to have, and the more you work on a given set, the more you are going to learn and acquire for the next one.
Who or what was your influence to be in your chosen field? Why?
My dad would show me a lot of classic films growing up; old Twilight Zone episodes, so I think that was the start of me knowing that I wanted to create a similar art form. It has moved me for as long as I can remember.
Drawing inspiration from my childhood has uniquely impacted my creativity. Those memories are something that I will always treasure, and they will probably be the subconscious influence in the future.
If I could speak to your best friend and ask them to describe you, what would they say?
I’m hoping they’d say I’m very passionate, focused and driven, and that I always find ways to make films. They would also tell you that I stick to my goals and exceed in them.
How did the name; Italian cowboy attach itself to you?
Haha, very long story reaching all the way back to High School. It was an inside joke.
Which year of your life would you like to relive?
18 to 20 were pretty good years for me, but I like where I am now as well and excited for the future. I enjoyed the chase and enjoyed the rewards of experience, something you can only experience much later in life.
Film writer, producer, director
What is your next project about?
My next film is called; “The Sweepers”, it’s about a family of assassins, and it’s going to be the biggest film I’ve done so far. We’ve been prepping for about six months now, so I feel ready and excited about it.
Bringing something different to the table that has challenged my skill set is something I pride myself on professionally and personally. It’s very much a team effort; it’s an action film based on traditional action values with a very modern approach.