SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Matt Fore: I’m Matt Fore and I’m a cinematographer. I’ve been working as a freelance DP in Los Angeles for about 15 years on everything from feature films to shorts, commercials, music videos and more.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a cinematographer?
Matt Fore: Ever since I was a kid in elementary school, I knew I always wanted to “make movies,” but never knew exactly what that truly meant until I was older. I began shooting and directing my own short films in early middle school in the mid-to-late 90’s on my family’s Sony Handycam camcorder, and continued throughout high school. I realized I was more drawn to the cinematography aspect of filmmaking rather than directing, and found myself attending the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography for college where I could study cinematography further in-depth. From there, it was off to Los Angeles to jump into the freelance world of filmmaking.
SKSM: How do you communicate with a director to design a visual strategy for a film?
Matt Fore: Every director has a different approach to pre-production and how to pre-vis a film, but it’s most always some sort of reference to existing material as far as color, contrast, scope, etc., and then applying an original view for the particular film – it’s always great to start with the broad strokes in that manner, and then dig into the film’s unique personality itself while surrounded by that context. It was fantastic to design the dark and shadowy elements of Dedication with Tyna, and find visually exciting ways to tell such a fantastic story.
SKSM: You worked with Tyna Ezenma on this film, what do you think the relationship between a director and a dp should be?
Matt Fore: Working with Tyna on Dedication was an absolute delight – she knew exactly what she wanted, but also gave me some creative wiggle room with camera and lighting. I think we were both very pleased with the end result, and had a great working relationship on the project. In general, I believe a relationship between the director and DP should be similar to best friends – be able to be honest and respectful, but also know the deep down truth of any situation and be able to act accordingly with what the project or day has thrown at you. As long as the director and the DP are on the same page, you’re usually off on the right foot for the entire film.
SKSM: You worked in a Dollar Baby based on a Stephen King short story. It was your most challenging film?
Matt Fore: This definitely wasn’t my most challenging film, but rather one of the most fun to craft. Playing with chiaroscuro lighting contrast ratios and using darkness to conceal parts of the frame and set was such a blast for me, and helped tremendously when shooting on small sets. I felt like we really pulled off a visual mood and tone through the pools and starkness of the lighting.
SKSM: When you’re going to shoot, what are your favorite lenses? formats?
Matt Fore: Having initially learned to shoot film in the early 2000s right as the industry was really transitioning to digital in a full and robust way, I still am a fan of everything Arri, including their Alexa and Amira series – they feel like most “filmic” to me and really exude that cinema quality and feel. I love Cooke lenses, especially the S4 series with their organic fall off. It’s been a while since I’ve shot 35mm film on a project, but that would have to be my favorite, followed by a model of Arri Alexa in the digital realm.
SKSM: Who are some of your influences (favorite dps/films)?
Matt Fore: Some of my favorite cinematographers include the incomparable Conrad Hall and Roger Deakins, the former of which I was lucky enough to meet in person in 2002 at the Ojai Film Festival when I was just 19, only months before he passed away. I am influenced heavily by both of these DPs, as well as Darius Khondji (especially his work on Fincher’s Se7en), Bruno Delbonnel, Nestor Almendros, Matthew Libatique, and Emmanuel Lubezki.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Matt Fore: I am a huge fan of Stephen King in general – some of my favorite works of his (and there are many!) include The Shining, Doctor Sleep (the only book I’ve ever cried at while reading the ending), The Green Mile, Stand By Me, IT, and Hearts in Atlantis.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Matt Fore: I am currently prepping 3 different feature films, ranging from a horror film to a family drama and a cerebral psychological journey. In between these larger projects, I can be found shooting music videos, short films, and commercials. My wife and I also just finished up our own feature film that she wrote & directed and I shot & produced, that we shot during the COVID quarantine and are beginning to submit to festivals.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Matt Fore: I have an avid interest in science, space, and the universe, as well as how it all fits together. I also can get obsessed with maps – everything from city layouts to physical maps of landscapes of mountain ranges and basins – I never know what map I might get lost in!
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Matt Fore: This is such a fantastic idea to allow film students to make and create their own films based off of Stephen King properties – to the Stephen King fans and filmmakers out there, get out there and do it! No film school is as good as learning by doing! I started making my own movies in elementary and middle school and followed that path to get to where I am today. It’s easier than ever these days to pick up a camera and bring your idea or concept to life. Explore, create, and discover!
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Matt Fore: Thank you so much for the opportunity to discuss my background in cinematography and my work on Dedication – I hope you all enjoy it!