An Interview With Filmmaker Matthew Cooke

an interview with filmmaker matthew cooke matthewcooke

Need an easy ten step process on how to become a drug dealer? “How To Make Money Selling Drugs” is right up your crack alley. The movie is a stylistic, sometimes tongue-in-cheek documentary about the scary and intense war on drugs. The film is produced by Adrian Grenier from Entourage and Bert Marcus. Cooke and Grenier worked together on a previous documentary titled “Teenage Paparazzo”, and their newest collaboration features interviews with Susan Sarandon, David Simon (creator of HBO’s “The Wire”), Russell Simmons and Eminem. The film steps out of the box when it comes to traditional documentary style filmmaking. We interviewed Matthew Cooke, the writer and director to get his take on filmmaking and talk a little bit about his style.

Tell me about your background in regards to documentary filmmaking?

I’m a huge fan of action films, sci-fi, noir, mystery, thriller, so in coming into documentary, I wanted to do something that would capture the excitement of fiction.

Why did you choose to make this movie?

I think this particular [drug] policy is one of the worst public policies in the history of the US. It’s sad, absurd, embarrassing, racist, in the reality of how the policy is exacted today. It’s an extremely important topic.

How long did it take to make? When did you start production?

We started about three  years prior to now, the majority of the time was spent in editing, finding the right tone and balance.

It’s a touchy subject – how did you get some of the characters (ex-drug dealers) to go on record?

There were quite a number who said no – the characters we picked were picked because of the level of excitement and adventure [in their stories]. I think the majority are all people who have inspiring turn around stories – hero journeys. Part of the process is sharing with others. Marshall Mathers [Eminem] had a certain story to tell. It was compelling, open and honest, and he was unflinching in his fearlessness. Revealing the horrors of addiction – he was the perfect person to share that story.

How did you incorporate style into your film?

I spent quite a bit of time painting the backdrops [for the interviews]. I wanted aggressive backdrops for the interviews. The interviews went so well with the colors and it was so fun and exciting to wrap the motion graphics. Hopefully people get a kick out of it.

What are some of your favorite brands right now?

I’m a huge fan of Opening Ceremony in LA. They have great stuff- I really like Dave Appel – he has a brand called Cohesive – I like his stuff a lot. I also like Band of Outsiders.

What is your relationship to fashion?

If I had more time I’d get more into clothes. A lot of my friends are stylists and designers- it’s a cool industry.

What would you consider the manliest thing you do everyday?

I trim my man-beard. If I don’t shave it off completely I will have a man-growth within two to three  hours

What are three things you can’t live without?

I can live without anything – I am fully prepped to surrender at any moment. If I had to choose – I’d prefer to not live without the Internet. I was recently on a flight from Paris for 11 hours without the Internet. I was upset when I couldn’t connect to Facebook. I also can’t live without Game of Thrones and Venice Beach.

 “How To Make Money Selling Drugs” is playing at the IFC Center in New York and also available on demand via iTunesAmazon, and Google Play.

For more information on Matthew Cooke, you can check out his website here.

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