Assistant Director, Our Parent’s Children 2014 | Set Designer, Like Sex 2016
Matt was studying theatre and film at Victoria University when he signed up for his first Young & Hungry festival. He has a Master of Arts in Scriptwriting from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Most recently his play Moodporn premiered at BATS in 2019 about which one reviewer said; “we have a new and exciting playwright on the proverbial block”. The play was shortlisted by Playmarket’s Playwrights b4 25 competition, with its “intriguing, opaque title and language that beautifully balances poetry with finely observed realism”.
He directed Movers written by James Cain in 2018 and has been a theatre critic for the Pantograph Punch, as well performing on stage in Yellowface at Whitireia in 2017.
Matt works in the Ministry of Justice, but creativity will never be far away from him, he couldn’t live without his true passion. Matt also has a podcast out called Mixed Bag, plans to write more and to have a feature film out some day.
We caught up with Matt to ask about his career journey:
How did you get your start writing plays professionally?
I went to a high school with no drama department but I knew I wanted to do something creative I was always a very keen writer. So I knew I wanted to do that, and I studied both theatre and film at Victoria, so you get those two different strands of creativity. The beauty of doing theatre is you get to see your work kind of straight away as long as you keep working on it, you can see it up on stage immediately, whereas film can take so much longer.
I was a huge cinophile and I was like “I wanna do that, I wanna write films”. But the beautiful thing about that is you never know what happens in life. I was very late to watching plays but once I did yeah I just got bit by the theatre bug because it seemed very achievable to me. Seeing those people up on stage actually doing it made you feel like you could do it too, and a lot of those people who I used to watch, are now my friends. I didn’t grow up watching theatre but once I started I never stopped.
Do you have any advice for young people who want to get into the arts but don’t know how?
Just do your research and just don’t be afraid to ask people. I think most artists and creatives are really nice and welcoming. Just stick to it, I think if you keep working on your craft then just keep talking, keep asking, keep yourself interested and hungry. It’s not hard to find opportunities where you can showcase that work, so if you want to improve your craft go watch shows, immerse yourself in whatever art form your pursuing. Get as much research and experience as you can, do all of that so that you know what you like and what you don’t like. Reach out ask questions, if you see a show, go up to the actors and the directors and say “hey that was really cool I’m thinking about doing this can you help me.?” And honestly some of the most fruitful creative relationships I’ve had are because of asking and talking with people, and other people are really excited that more people are pursuing arts. You can even ask me if you want.
I saw other people my age putting on plays so I was like “how did you do that?” and “where did you get the resources to do that?”
Don’t be afraid to fail especially early on because that’s how you learn and that’s how you get better. And no one is going to hold it against you honestly, everyone’s there to learn, if you get criticism from it just don’t take it to heart too much just get some distance from it and later on look at from more objective eyes and see what we can actually get from those criticisms and apply it to the next thing you do. Don’t be afraid to fail and just go for it. That’s how I did it, just ask people how they did stuff, convincing myself that I can do it to, to varying results.
What are your fondest memories from your Y&H time?
So both times I was there, the creative process was what I came in for initially but what I got out of it really was like really good friendships, like I had so much fun building relationships with these young people who were like minded, and just the rehearsals when you get to goof off. I remember dancing at the after party. The fondest memories I have of Young & Hungry is just bonding with those people, having a lot of fun. And you know, Young & Hungry has its challenges but it’s also like a safety net. You might not be perfect this time round, you’re still supported by supportive people and you can’t really fail that hard. Having that safety net allowed everyone to just have fun with it and form strong bonds. Some of those people I still consider really good friends now. Kind of that instinctive bond with other creative people, and having fun with them is what I take away the most as my fondest memories from Young & Hungry.