The Midwest has become a playground for the nation’s youngest film-makers.
For the second consecutive year, the Midwest was awarded a top prize in the “Best Region of the Year” category at the 2013 Academy Awards, but the awards also gave us a chance to talk to film-maker and Midwestern filmmaker Jody Matson about the importance of home-grown talent.
In the lead-up to the Oscars, Matson had already produced a handful of indie films, including a feature film called “The Man With No Name,” which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Garner.
Her first feature film, “The Mid-East,” premiered in 2010 and earned her an Oscar nomination for best director.
Her next film, a comedic dramedy called “Little Women,” also premiered in 2011.
Matson credits her family for allowing her to focus on filmmaking full-time.
She also credits her mother for being the first filmmaker to let her know how much she loves filmmaking, especially as she became increasingly frustrated with the lack of options for her daughter to make her own films.
“My mom, when she was growing up, was very, very much into the medium of cinema,” she says.
“And when she got to college, she was like, ‘Well, I’m not going to be making movies anymore.
I’m going to make movies that will be really good.'”
As a teenager growing up in Chicago, Mathy learned to navigate the complexities of a college-educated world, working part-time as a bartender to pay for college.
“She was working so hard that she wasn’t getting any money for anything,” Matson says.
“[But] she also knew she was very lucky.
Because her father had a job that gave him money, and that was a pretty amazing income.
And she also had a family that gave her the financial security that she needed to make it happen.”
Matson had a passion for filmmaking.
She started making films when she wasn) 5 years old and was able to follow her mother into the industry.
In college, Mathers family rented a house, and the couple moved to New York City, where she began working on films for independent studios.
“My mom was like my rock, so I would go there with her,” Matheris says.
The two worked together on a couple of films, “Fairy Tales” and “Mouth and Blood,” which were both nominated for best picture and Best Director, respectively.
They also co-wrote and directed the upcoming “Breathless,” which is set in the fictional town of Fairfield, Iowa.
“I think she loved that idea,” Matsys mother, Mary, says.
When Matson first started out, she had no idea what she was getting into.
“No one was telling me I could make films,” she recalls.
“But I was like ‘Yeah, I can do that.
I can be a director.'”
Matson was a student at the University of Iowa in the fall of 2011, when the film school began hiring.
“They were hiring the very young, and they were hiring people who were not the typical movie school, but they were just hiring the most talented people they could find,” Mithers says.
Mither says the admissions office was thrilled to have a filmmaker like Matson, and soon, Mither had a role in “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Mither made the transition to the production side of the business, but Matson knew that her time at the school would be important to her career.
“When I graduated, I got a job at the Sundance Film Festival and I got to work with the director of ‘Breathful,’ and I knew I was going to go to Sundance,” Miltys mother says.
“I thought, Well, I have this really important film to make.
I want to make sure it’s something that can be shown.
So, when they hired me, it was like I was part of something really special.
And I felt that I had the privilege to be able to work on it.”
Matson made her debut with “Little Girls,” a comedy about a middle-school student and her mom who both have autism, which is something that has never been seen on television before.
“It was really fun.
I loved the characters and the story,” Muthys mother said.
“There was no script or anything.
It was all me.”
The film’s success in the film community was a huge boost for Mither’s career.
She credits her experience working with directors like Jon Favreau and Steven Soderbergh as part of her growing understanding of the craft.
Mather also credits the family for being supportive, as she began to get more and more involved in the filmmaking process.
“The biggest thing that I learned is that the family is really behind you.
It’s just not as easy as it is in other industries,” Mathys mother adds.