Writer Q&A Matias Caruso

by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"

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DCP:

You've written a number of short films and had a feature length that saw a completed film production and release starring Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead - What's the biggest difference you've noticed from writing a short to a feature length, and which do you find a little challenging than the other?

 

MC:

The biggest difference is the scope of the plot. Stories that require complex set-ups or world-building don’t fit into the small canvas of a short. When writing shorts, many times I found myself discarding ideas I liked because they were too big. I realized it’s better to focus on a small moment and milk it for all its worth than underservice an overly-ambitious idea.

 

Both formats have their challenges, but I’d say the feature length is more difficult to pull off. A short might take me two weeks to write whereas a feature takes me in the ballpark of two months. There’s more scenes, more characters, more work. And unlike the short that can be done for a few K or less, the feature often is a multi-million dollar business proposal… which adds a load of commercial considerations to all the artistic ones.

 

DCP:

You're mainly known as a screenwriter - Do you see yourself directing anything in the future, or do you feel more at home writing?

 

MC:

I’m fifty-fifty about directing right now. I like sitting at home writing peacefully, managing my work hours, and maintaining a healthy balance with my personal life. It’s the opposite of the craziness that I imagine must be being on set dealing with a limited budget, tight deadlines, non-stop shooting schedules, unforeseen obstacles, lots of people depending on you, financers pressure, etc. While that’s a part of the job I think I could deal with, I don’t find it appealing.  

 

But on the other hand, the director has more creative control; that’s a perk of the job that interests me a lot. When someone else directs your script, your vision goes through the filter of the director’s vision; it’s inevitable. Unless you become a writer/director.

 

Maybe some day I’ll pick a camera and shoot something.

 

DCP:

What are some writers, or filmmakers, that influence you the most as an artist and in what way do each of those writers/filmmakers influence you?

 

MC:

James Cameron is a big influence and one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s amazing how he can tell sci-fi stories in such a simple way, with everything seeming so seamless and natural. The simplicity of movies like “Avatar” can be deceiving. It’s hard to come up with a new world and its rules and make it cool while also easy to grasp to a wide audience.

 

I envy that skill he has. Sometimes I find myself trying to plug a plot hole by tweaking the rules of a fantasy or sci-fi world, doing complex mental gymnastics so it all kinda makes sense… But then I stop and think “Can you imagine finding this lame and overly complex exposition scene in a Cameron movie?” The answer is obviously “no”, so I go back to the drawing board to try to simplify the mythology and address the root of the problem.

 

DCP:

Who or what inspires you as a human being?

 

MC:

Underdogs. From reading the news and learning that a handicapped guy climbed Mount Everest to watching a Pixar movie about a rat wanting to become a chef, I’m inspired by those who do what everyone else tells them they can’t do and achieve success against all odds.

 

DCP:

The feature length film you wrote, Mayhem, where did that story stem from and how long did it take you to write it?

 

MC:

Part of it stems from my own life. The protagonist is a cubicle rat whose soul is being sucked away by his day job, and that’s exactly who I was back in the day. I actually got a law degree and worked at a law firm for many years before even finding out what screenwriting was. When I discovered that writing was my passion, it changed my life.

 

I think I wrote the first draft in a couple of months. But then, throughout the years, there’s been endless rewrites, implementing notes from managers, producers, writer friends, directors, actors. It’s hard to gage exactly how much time I put into it, but it was a lot.

 

DCP:

Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects you may be working on for the near future?

 

MC:

CARNIVAL, an action/thriller I wrote, recently attached director Robert Stromberg with Voltage Pictures financing and now is out to actors. Also I’m currently writing an action/thriller titled JUDGEMENT DAY for Warner Brothers with Ritchie/Wigram producing. And a supernatural thriller titled BRUJA (“Witch” in Spanish) will start shooting in a couple of months here in my country.

 

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