It seemed only appropriate given today’s Valentine’s Day to post this e-mail interview I did with Luke Matheny, director of Oscar nominated short “God of Love” (which is being distributed internationally by Ouat Media). An adorable, hilarious and inventive 20-minute take on a modern day Cupid, “God of Love” is a personal favorite heading into next weekend’s Oscars. It stars Matheny himself as lounge singer and hopeless romantic Raymond Goodfellow, who comes across some magical darts that have the ability turn anyone he strikes into the obsessed lover of the first person they see for exactly six hours. You can currently watch the film in theaters as part of the Oscar Shorts program Magnolia and Shorts International are releasing across North America as I write this, and perhaps you’ll see Matheny himself on stage next Sunday when the Live Action Short winner is announced…
Tell me about how you got into filmmaking? When did you first decide this was something you wanted to do?
I’d always been a movie fan, but for whatever reason, I never saw filmmaking as a viable option for my future. Then, some friends and I made a very low-budget, digital-video movie in Paris in 2001 — more as a fun adventure than anything else. And it was sometime along this journey that I realized that filmmaking was something I wanted to pursue. So I started applying to graduate film programs and ended up at NYU.
Tell me about your work in film previous to “God of Love”?
As part of my studies at NYU, I had to make several short films. My most successful film prior to “God of Love” was called “Earano” — it’s like Cyrano but the guy has big ears instead of a big nose.
more after the jump…
Specific to “God of Love,” where did this idea come from? And how did it evolve into the film?
I’d been toying with the idea of doing a Cupid story, and it went through several drastically different versions — some of which were much darker and weirder than the final version. Finally, I settled on the story you see on screen.
What do you hope people take from it?
I hope they are entertained. If I elaborated too much on this, I would sound really pretentious.
As a young filmmaker with clearly a hopeful career in front of them, what is some advice you’d give someone considering taking on this line of work?
This is perhaps bad advice, but I’d say, “Make the movie that you’d really want to see.” Then, just have faith that others would want to see it, too.
So about that Oscar nomination… How did you find out? And what went through your head?
Well, several months earlier, my film ended up on the “shortlist,” which is a list of 10 films that gets cut down to five nominees. So I knew I had roughly a 50-50 shot, which made me very superstitious and anxious up until the nominations were announced. When the big day rolled around, I happened to be in Park City, Utah, as part of a special screening with the Angelus Student Film Festival. The super-nice festival staff had organized an early-morning reception while we all waited for the news. I was skype-ing with four people back home. It was incredibly nerve-wracking. Then the nominations were announced online and everyone went crazy. It was a very emotional moment.
What are your thoughts going into Oscar night? Is this something you ever expected to get yourself into?
With the nomination comes a ton of little tasks — travel logistics, celebrations for the cast/crew, press, getting your feature script ready, helping your girlfriend find a dress, etc. It’s a blessing because it keeps me pretty busy. I know that otherwise I would just become a basket case worrying about the big event and obsessing over negative reviews of the film.
I guess an Oscar nomination is something I vaguely hoped for much later in my career. I don’t think anyone makes a student film expecting to get this kind of recognition, so I just feel exceptionally lucky to be nominated.
(image courtesy of Ouat Media)