January 3, 2007
Matthew J. Clark, director, cinematographer and founder of StraightEIGHT films
Clark is a director and cinematographer for commercials. He also conducts "brand" film work for corporate clients, which involves making videos and films to bolster a brand's image.
NWjobs: How did you become a director?
Matthew Clark: I was always into photography as a kid. Going through high school, I did some training and freelanced a little bit; and then in college I studied film and film theory and production at NYU. Then I moved back out West and started working out here.
NW: What was your big break? When you decided you could work for yourself?
MC: Part of it was handed to me. I worked for a production company and then was laid off. And that became the moment of, "Well, here I go. I got to do this!" And it's now been five years, and each year has been progressively better. It continues to grow.
NW: What advice would you offer someone in school right now who wanted to get involved in this?
MC: For me, the most important thing was actually getting out and working and being a part of things as soon as possible -- whether it's an internship or actually working on the low-end of the totem pole in the business. That was where I learned the most and got the best chance to grow and excel.
"I don't have a set schedule, I don't have to go into the office, and I've decided for myself that I need about a week off every three or four months."
NW: What are some of the most important skills for this line of work?
MC: The most important skill set is working with clients and with crew from a personal side of things, so that you can communicate concisely with them but also so that they enjoy the process and the job. That turns into repeat business. That's the most important thing -- the relationship side and how to manage it. Obviously there's the technical side that's really important, and you don't want to botch things. But if people feel good about the process and want to be included, you can get a lot more from them, whether it's the crew or the client or whatever.
NW: Was there a moment where you realized you had a "dream job"?
MC: Every day is sort of like that. Once a quarter, I take a week off. And then I always have a bigger time off of two to three weeks. That way I can balance the personal and the work side, and that makes it a dream job. I can go out and live and do fun things, but my work is fun, too.
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