Trevor Matthews shares his thoughts about directing his first feature film Girl House
Terry Wickham: Tell me a bit about Kanata, Ontario, Canada. I’ve never spoken to someone from that neck of the woods.
Trevor Matthews: It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. Lots of trees and lakes. The community and people are amongst the best I’ve ever met. It’s a similar environment to much of the North Eastern Appalachians – but for me It’s just… home.
TW: What was it that drew you away from studying Anthropology to getting involved with the film business?
TM: I was always heavily influenced by movies, and I loved telling stories. I got into Anthropology and geography because I originally wanted to be a mountain guide and have a strong understanding of history and culture.
I ended up being drawn to the film business for the excitement and unknown. I knew that whatever I was going to do – I wanted to be an entrepreneur. The film business seemed to be that perfect balance between commerce and creative. I’m glad I made that choice… because now my job is anything but routine and I’m still constantly challenged and learning more about this industry everyday.
TW: I learned you’ve climbed some of the steepest mountains on North & South America. Is there any comparison to making a film versus climbing a mountain? I know from experience, making a film can be grueling.
TM: It’s amazing to me that when you gain a new level of understanding in your career, a sport, or a climb, how easily that can become useful in something entirely different. I have learned more from climbing and from the mountains than I ever expected. It has definitely taught me that there is a balance between being humble and patient, and being efficient and effective towards achieving your goals—whether that be in growing a business or making a film.
TW: I read that you attended New York Film Academy. What made you choose a school all the way over on the East Coast, which is my neck of the woods?
TM: I actually went to the NY Film academy in Los Angeles… I know that sounds funny. But they had a great program in LA where I got to learn, work and shoot on the Universal Studios Backlot. It was pretty cool.
TW: I’ve seen that you’ve done some acting. Was it acting that lead to directing or vice versa?
TM: I started acting in my early 20’s. I love preforming and I’d still love to do more of it. I’ve always been really interested in filmmaking in general. It is such a collaboration between all the different departments. So for me – as long as it’s a cool project and I’m part of the team… I’m in.
TW: Had you always planned to make a horror film as your directing debut?
TM: No. But I do love a good horror movie.
TW: How did Girl House originate?
TM: Nick Gordon, the writer (and fellow producer) of the film and the Head of Development at Brookstreet, had the idea a long time ago and just never wrote it. One day we were throwing around ideas for contained horror films that could be made for a low budget and everybody responded in the room.
TW: Are you a fan of slasher films? I grew up during the height of the slasher era that followed John Carpenter’s Halloween. That was a great time for horror cinema, as there were some real gems to come out from that period.
TM: Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Dead Alive, Bad Taste, Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course Halloween. I loved to track how the great horror directors progressed and expanded on their experiences in the horror genre in their future projects. Like Sam Rami with The Gift or A Simple Plan… there is so much influence from his roots in horror imbedded into that work. And most of the time his horror mastery influenced the best scenes! Even Spiderman. When you watch Sam’s early stuff you can totally see how his tools were sharpened in the horror genre.
TW: Did you shoot your movie close to where you are from in Canada? The locations were very scenic and gave the picture an atmosphere not found in films shot in California or New York.
TM: We actually shot most of the movie in Kanata, my hometown. The GirlHouse location is actually the house that I grew up in! I never thought those walls would see this amount of carnage. I think my Dad was half worried I’d tear the place down while making this, but then again, he was probably worried about that while I was living there as a kid too.
TW: Had you known Writer Nick Gordon prior to this project?
TM: I met Nick about a year before we started working on Girl House. He wrote a wicked little gangster script that I read as a sample and I knew I wanted to work with him right away. GirlHouse is actually the second script Nick has written for the company, so while working on that project we got to know each other pretty well. He’s a great guy with a ton of experience, and I really liked his writing style.
TW: Talk about your cast. How’d you find your two leads Ali Cobrin and Adam DiMarco? They definitely have onscreen chemistry together.
TM: Annie McCarthy handled our casting out of LA. We were so lucky to have her and her associate Freddy on this job. They were fantastic and were able to put the perfect cast together for these diverse characters. Ali was hot from her performance in the latest American Pie film and Adam had a fantastic audition and came highly recommended from some of my Canadian producing friends. I think they had great chemistry. I loved how dorky and funny Adam played the character. It’s great to watch.
TW: Ali Cobrin’s character is more sexed up, but I really felt she conveyed innocence, intelligence and ultimately toughness as “Kylie Atkins” that is comparable to Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance as “Laurie Strode” in John Carpenter’s Halloween.
TM: Well I’m glad that came across, but I also think her character is more modern. She’s treading into the world of online porn after all, owning her body and trying take control of her recently turned upside down circumstances after her father passed away. Ali had to tackle a modern, “wholesome” woman that joins a porn house. Not an easy task.
TW: I think Adam DiMarco’s character “Ben Stanley” might be the key to making your movie work. I say that because his role as an honest, caring, somewhat moralistic person gives the film balance against all the sex and violence.
TM: Their relationship is really important to the story on so many levels. I think it’s what makes people care whether Kylie lives or dies, but it’s also more than our love story. Among other things, Adam plays a counterpoint to Kylie’s choice to join the house. Their relationship it gives Kylie the chance to show that she’s smart and independent and doesn’t need his approval to feel good about herself and her decision, while at the same time showing her vulnerability and desire for courtship, romance, and love.
TW: Was Slaine a choice you had in mind all along or did he come through the casting process?
TM: It’s funny when you’re making a movie with someone in a mask most of the time, it’s easy to focus on casting the other roles. But when the idea for Slaine came up, I had a really hard time envisioning anyone else. And we hustled and hustled until the last minute, had to move the schedule around very late in pre-production, but the pieces finally fell into place and Slaine came onboard… and MAN I’m GLAD HE DID … he absolutely killed it! He’s such a talented actor with just great natural impulses and ideas. He brought a lot to the character.
TW: Did you make a cameo in the film?
TM: I did. I’m actually the first person in the A-story to get killed! I play the hipster who walks into the GirlHouse server room – only to have my head caved in by Loverboy!
TW: It must have been a real thrill getting tomanandy to score your film. I love their work. The Mothman Prophecies is one of the best scores to a movie ever done. I must have listened to that soundtrack close to a thousand times when I was writing my feature screenplay Anomaly. How did you get the duo involved?
TM: tomandandy are so talented and it was just perfect timing. They were coming off another project and had a window to work with us. They are so much fun to collaborate with and brought the film alive in a whole new way. We wanted something scary but modern and digital. I was blown away with what they came up with and they worked really fast. It was a cool experience for sure.
TW: Tell me a bit about your Cinematographer Chris Norr and the work you did together. What was your vision for the film and how did you feel about what he was able to capture with his lights and lens?
TM: Chris is another guy that I feel so lucky to have worked with. He had literally just come off of shooting SINISTER, a film that has so much darkness in every frame. He is a master at working in low light and we knew he could accomplish a very polished look on a low budget.
TW: In parting, what’s next?
TM: Brookstreet Pictures is making some big moves this year! You can expect a lot more movies in the next few years…
Please visit Brookstreet Pictures official site to learn more: