Movie director Michael Matteo Rossi recently finished his cast and crew screening for his feature film “Misogynist.” Rossi was generous to sit down for a 5 question interview via e-mail with freelance Yahoo! entertainment writer Theresa Pickett. As a Los Angeles native, Rossi has been making movies since age 19. Recently finishing an undergraduate degree in film at San Diego State, Rossi moved back to Los Angeles and has been taking his film career into his own hands and creating movies. In the following interview, Rossi explains his creative process as a screenwriter and filmmaker.
Theresa Pickett (TP) Can you give us insight into how you pick and choose your projects? How did you develop your most recent movie?
Michael Matteo Rossi (MMR): I always prefer to direct my own written work; it’s just something that allows me to understand where I am going and how I envision it on the big screen. After I am very sure about my script and if it’s “shootable,” I then start to pull my resources together (both talent-wise and technical-wise) and the rest is all just hard work and labor to make it happen. With “Misogynist” I had to really branch out because I knew I had to have the best caliber of actors, crew, etc to make this film possible on the budget it had. Luckily it paid off and a lot of hustling, talking, and perseverance helped make it the great intriguing movie it is today.
TP: Do you feel that you’ve had creative control in your projects so far?
MMR: With the majority of my projects I have had creative control. There are only a few projects in the past that I feel I didn’t really have creative control over (either due to me not being one of the producers, etc) and to be honest, I feel the films suffered a bit because of it. I like to produce a lot of my own work because I can blend my creative eye into the “business” sense as well. There are a few films I worked with in the past that lack good execution because I did not have the input I wanted to tell the “higher-ups” that certain things were not working or that they did not allow me the freedom to tweak certain things in the story. “Misogynist” is by far my strongest film and the film I am the most proud of because I had the creative control to make it the strongest possible story with the elite crew and actors to do the film justice. My other producers were amazing too and understood that when helping along the way.
TP: What is your screenwriting process? When you begin writing a movie script, what’s the first thing you do? How do you personally bring your script through the writing process to get it ready to become a movie?
MMR: I always try to block out the entire story in chunks even before I write the treatment. I envision how the film would play out and then I just write like crazy. It’s almost like I am in zen-mode when I write. I can’t stop. When I’m done with the first draft, I back up from it for a bit, then re-read and start to make the detailed tweaks to make it the best. It is tedious but so rewarding when you begin to see the script take form in the medium of a film.
TP: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
MMR: I knew VERY young that I wanted to be a filmmaker. My Dad would show me classic films as a kid (Hitchcock, etc.) and they captivated me so much that I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to shock, move, evoke emotions and more from the audience and tell the type of stories I wanted and put it on the big screen.
TP: Can you tell us about any future projects you have?
MMR: I really want to do a psychological horror film next which I wrote and the script is completed and can be done on a reasonable budget. It has twists and turns just like a lot of my films and makes you question a lot about the psychology of the characters and what motivates them to do the things they do. Hopefully next year I can make it!