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Oscar nominee Luke Matheny

by on February 20, 2011
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Luke Matheny is the writer/director/star of “God of Love,” a quirky 18-minute short film about a jazz crooner who performs amazing dart tricks on stage. It appeared in both the Indianapolis International Film Festival and the Heartland Film Festival in 2010, and is up for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

Read The Film Yap’s review of “God of Love” here.

This film was your student thesis in the graduate film program at NYU. Talk about what the storied school did for your development as a filmmaker.

There were lots of great things about the NYU grad film program: the faculty, the facilities, the reputation. But in the end, the most valuable aspect of film school were my classmates, who became close friends and irreplaceable collaborators.

Where did you come up with the idea for “God of Love,” about a lounge singer/trick dart master?

I’d rather not say because it would involve me giving away the ending.

I love the whole retro vibe of the film — black-and-white, jazz standards. What inspired you to go that way?

I’m a huge jazz fan, and I’ve always loved jazz photography from the 1950s and ’60s. I knew that the film would open in a kind of bohemian-ish jazz setting, so I thought that this kind of black-and-white visual treatment would give the movie an overall cool, romantic, nostalgic quality. And, of course, my cinematographer Bobby Webster was a key player in helping me bring that idea to life. We looked at lots of films that featured jazz scenes: “I Want to Live!” and “Paris Blues” were two visual touchstones, in particular. The French New Wave was an aesthetic influence, as well, in some of the film’s montage scenes.

Is that really you singing in the film?

It is. But the recording you hear is actually constructed from numerous takes — like 25 or 30 — that were craftily cut together by my perfectionist composer Sasha Gordon.

Talk about the filmmaking process — how did you get financing, how long did you shoot, etc.

The funding came from a combination of student loans, my own savings and some production grants. The shoot took 10 days. We shot on the RED Camera. My mom did craft services.

Your film won a Gold Medal at the 2010 Student Academy Awards for narrative film. So, does that mean you have a gold statuette just like Sandra Bullock’s? All kidding aside, what was it like receiving that honor?

It was unbelievable. I’m kind of a crazy Oscar fan and actually have every single Best Picture committed to memory. So to actually be in a position to personally thank the Academy was really amazing. As for the award itself, it’s a Student Oscar, which is a kind of granite cube, not the actual statuette.

What’s your next film project?

Busy writing my feature screenplay. It’s a comedy titled “Ron Quixote.”