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SxSW 2016 Interview: 9 RIDES director Matthew A Cherry

9 RIDES - At SxSW 2016
by Jason Whyte

"9 RIDES is about an UBER driver that gets life changing news on New Year's Eve. The film really speaks to how interactions with others can influence your decision making and throughout the course of the film our driver encounters 9 different groups of people who make a profound impression on him throughout the course of this one night. We were also the first feature film to shoot on the new iPhone 6s in 4K and we are very excited about the professional quality we were able to achieve." Director Matthew A. Cherry on 9 RIDES which screens at the 2016 edition of South By Southwest Film.

I hear you are back at SxSW this year! Tell me about what you have had here in the past, and your favorite aspects of the city.

I was at SXSW in 2012 for the world premiere of my first feature film THE LAST FALL. SXSW is great because it's like three festivals in one. You have the film, the interactive and the music. Austin is a great college town and the energy is amazing.

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!

I used to play in the NFL for 3 years from 04-06 and when I retired I moved to LA and started as a production assistant. Eventually I worked my way up and started directing music videos and short films and now I have directed videos for Michelle Williams, Beyonce & Kelly Rowland, Jazmine Sullivan, Bilal and many others. 9 RIDES is my second feature film.

So how did this movie come together from your perspective?

To be honest, this movie came together out of necessity. I was trying to get a movie about the concussion crisis in the NFL a few years back but it was really hard to pull together. I found myself on the bench for a few years but luckily I kept writing and stockpiling scripts and so I was getting ready to pull a trigger on a different film but when one of our lead actors booked a TV show the project went away and it was a mad scramble to try to think of something that could replace that project, especially because we had already raised the money for it.

I had recently seen the movie LOCKE and loved the idea of a film taking place in a car. Then I saw TANGERINE and loved how the iPhone footage looked. The new iPhone had come out a few months prior to this production, and because we were going to shoot a majority of the movie in a car I thought the new iPhone 6s would give us more flexibility. I wrote a 20 page scriptment for 9 RIDES on the same weekend we were supposed to shoot the previous project. I sent it to a few of my producers and they loved it. That's how all of this came about. I wanted to prove that iPhone filmmaking was a viable resource for other filmmakers of color such as myself and the best way to do it was to shoot something myself.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Inspiring other people to tell their stories motivates me more than anything. I may never win an Oscar but a person that as inspired by something I created might be and if I help push the art form forward that's what really keeps me motivated.

What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?

The biggest challenge was how fast it all came together. I wrote the 20 page scriptment on the last weekend of October. We shot it the week of Thanksgiving and I had less than a month to turn a cut into SXSW. Shooting at night was really hard to do. However, the actual filmmaking process was very smooth because we had a super small crew of about five people.

Tell me more about shooting the film on the iPhone6 and working with Richard Vialet, your cinematographer.

Richard and I thought it would be great to be the first filmmakers to shoot on the new iPhone 6s. Since it was taking place mostly in a car and at night, movies like LOCKE & COLLATERAL really influenced the look. But because we were shooting on two iPhones we were able to place the camera in some really funky angles.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

I am looking forward to seeing how the crowd reacts to it. We went out-of-the-box on this one, with improv performances and non-traditional equipment. I'm curious to see how it holds up compared to other projects.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

Not sure exactly where it's screening next but it will definitely be in some other festivals.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I would screen it at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. It's just an iconic venue with thousands of seats. That would be really cool.

What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?

I actually don't mind the texting. I feel like some people are able to still be engaged even while texting so I don't have a problem with it. I don't mind the talking either. Sometimes they're talking about the movie. I like to hear what people are thinking.

If you had anything to say to say to any aspiring filmmakers looking to get out there and make their first movie, what advice would you give them?

I would tell someone looking into filmmaking that there is never a perfect moment to make your first film. You're going to be just as nervous now as you will be five years from now. Study your craft and do your homework, but go NOW. Time is a wasting.

Be sure to track Matthew A Cherry’s work by following him on Twitter at @MatthewACherry and Facebook!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2016. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/10/16 08:41:13
last updated: 03/10/16 08:45:21
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