Football player turned filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry played in the NFL until retiring at age 25. He gained experience as a production assistant, opting to learn on set instead of going to film school. Now he is bringing his first feature "The Last Fall" to this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.
What It's About: "The Last Fall" is a sports romantic drama film about life after ball. It's about the difficulties many football players have when trying to transition into life in the real world once they have retired broke and many times at very young ages.
Says director Matthew A. Cherry: "I want people to know that it comes from a real place. I am a former player (I played 3 years) and that not every athlete is a millionaire. We struggle with family and life just like everyone. It's a job like anything else. I grew up playing sports my whole life but I always knew that I wanted to work in the entertainment industry in some capacity.
"I would like [audiences] to come away with a better understanding of the full scope of a football player's life and life after the game. We are more than what you see on Sundays and to know what motivates us, and a lot of times it's family.
"'Garden State' and 'Love & Basketball' were huge influences: 'Garden State' because of the whole returning home theme and dry humor and 'Love & Basketball' because of the strong relationship components and strong family dynamics.
I have several projects in development but I plan on shooting my next film this summer. It's a drama called 'He's Got A Name' that is inspired by the murders of Oscar Grant and Sean Bell. I want to go deep into the psychology of a family pursuing justice and show all sides. A film a year like Woody Allen is the goal.
I think that there has never been a better time to be an independent filmmaker. Technology and social networking has made everything more accessible than ever and we have a responsibility to tell our own stories and to stop waiting on the studios. For too long we have complained about what other people are not doing for us and it is time for us to start doing for self. The distribution models grow with each day that passes and content will always be king. There is a new black wave of cinema happening right now and I look forward to continue making films.'
Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
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