Monday, February 7, 2011

And Where do you "Where To?": Director Matthew Cherry

While I was at The Foreign Exchange's "Authenticity" music video shoot at the Pappillion Institute of Art over the weekend, not only did I speak with Phonte, the vocalist of the duo, but I also had a chance to talk with the video’s director Matthew Cherry (pictured to the left). This former NFL player left the glamorous life of football, fame and fortunate to pursue his directing dreams in the entertainment industry.

After directing solid music videos for R&B and Neo-soul artists like Onitsha and Kindred, Cherry is now creating even bigger music and film projects through Transparent Filmworks, the production company he co-founded with business partner Scott Hebert.

Read on to learn more about Cherry, his take on The Foreign Exchange’s “Authenticity” music video, his future plans and of course, his favorite LA hangout destination:

MW: How exactly did you get into directing music videos?
CHERRY: Well I’ve worked as a PA [production assistant] on the TV shows Girlfriends and The Game, and I wanted to get into directing, just trying to figure out an in. And I love music. I always watched The Box, MTV and BET and stuff. I figured that doing music videos would be a good way to transition into doing narrative films and short films and feature films. But I didn’t want to do rap videos. I wanted to do R&B videos because most of these songs actually have a storyline, and I figured it would be easier for me to show my music video work to get a feature film if they have a storyline in it. This was back when MySpace was poppin’. I just reached out to different artists. Terry Dexter, Kindred – I’d send them all treatments and told them basically I would do it for free to try to get an in. Luckily, the first couple of people looked out and more work begets more work. You do one and you leverage that to get the next one. So it’s been kind of what’s been happening with this one.

MW: I understand you used to play football professionally, so how was making the transition from doing sports full-time, to being in the entertainment industry full-time professionally?
CHERRY: It’s very humbling. You go from people pampering you and making a lot of money to getting coffee and not even making $20,000 a year. It’s definitely a humbling experience, but it was cool.

MW: Can you talk a little about the concept behind the "Authenticity" music video today?
CHERRY: It’s really about a guy who’s living a double life. He’s doing the most. He kind of wants to leave his girl, but he wants to kind of confess to her what’s going on, but he knows that she wouldn’t be able to handle it. You hear the verse of the song: you don’t want the truth from me/you just want what you want. So we’re just showing that in a strong narrative way. Showing a guy that’s doing the most, dealing with three or four different women, and then comes back home to his wife. At the end of the day he thinks about being with her but it just doesn’t work out.

MW: Who came up with the concept – was it you or Phonte and Nicolay?
CHERRY: Me and Phonte, we collaborated on it. We both came together. He had an idea that he told me about. I liked it, so we expanded on it. I kind of added like this really cool introduction shot that’s real artsy and a couple of more things. But most of it was Phonte’s, and I just spiced it up.

MW: Is that the way you usually work when you’re working with different artists?
CHERRY: Everybody’s different, man. Some artists, they don’t care at all about the concept. They just want you to give them something hot. Some artists are very collaborative. Like Phonte is by far the most collaborative person I’ve dealt with.

MW: When will it be released?
CHERRY: I’m not sure. But it will probably be on VH1 or VH1 Soul or something like that.

MW: Who are some of your favorite artists?
CHERRY: Jill Scott. I need her. I need her and India.Arie and Musiq. That’s what I need.

MW: Nice. So where is your favorite place to frequent in Los Angeles, like a bar, restaurant or lounge?
CHERRY: I don’t know. Probably Starbucks because I be in there using the free WIFI (laughs).

MW: Do you have any memorable venues that you shot your music videos in LA?
CHERRY: Not necessarily. It’s really more so using friends. You just reach out to people and just kind of go like that.

MW: Anything else to add?
CHERRY: The Foreign Exchange, Phonte, it’s coming out. It’s gonna be hot. We’re gonna do bigger and better things in 2011, hopefully get these feature films going.

MW: Well good luck with everything for sure. That's it - thank you so much!
CHERRY: Thank you as well.