Matthew A. Cherry, a formal NFL athlete, has been primarily a video music director, making videos for folks like Dwele, Cee-Lo, Common and Snoop Dog – to name a few. Now he’s venturing out into feature films – and will be showing his film “The Last Fall” – starring Lance Gross and Nicole Beharie as the kick off toThe Roxbury International Film Festival. “The Last Fall” shares “the after life” of a retired football player and details his struggle to find meaning. We asked Matthew about the film and his personal connection to his leading character.
BostonFab: The Last Fall” is considered your first feature film as you are known for more short films and music videos. How was your approach to this project different than the approach you’ve had towards your other projects?
Matthew A. Cherry: The good thing is that a lot of our short film and music video work had heavy narrative components in it already so it was more about doing what we already do, just for more days. Which is a lot harder than you think it should be. It is defintely a grind.
BF: You seem to pride yourself on being very transparent about the film making project, including the budget by raising funds through Kick Starter. How do you think that has enhanced or hurt your experience as a filmmaker? Will you still be as transparent in the future?
MC: The thing about having an open process is that it connects you with your audience more and makes them feel like they are apart of the journey as well. The bad thing about doing that is sometimes when you feel like keeping to yourself because you have kind of already built a reputation for having a open door policy. In the future I think it would depend on the project. With me sometimes me putting myself and our projects out there forces you to deliver the good but on the flip side if something falls through then people start to look at you crazy. It is a delicate balance for sure.
BF: You start the film trailer/teaser with a lot of statistics about athletes. Who are you trying to reach with this film?
MC: I am trying to reach anyone who has ever heard of the NFL, fan or not. My main goal is to humanize the professional athletic experience. We feel that it is a film that both men and women can relate to.
BF: What is probably the biggest misconceptions that the public has about professional athletes?
MC: I would say the biggest misconception is that all professional athletes are millionaires. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Only 4% of all the young men that make it to the NFL as rookies has a career that lasts longer than 4 seasons so in that time period most do not see that lucrative second contract.
BF: Talking a little bit about Lance Gross’ character; how did you get Lance prepared to play the role and did he have any previous football experience?
MC: Lance is an athlete first and foremost. He ran track at Howard University. Luckily our film doesn’t have a lot of football action set pieces so him working out was really all he had to do. He ran a couple of routes and ran the 40 yard dash but all in all he did a great job with it.
BF: Being a former professional player, you bring a lot of authenticity and experience to the film. How difficult or easy was it for you to draw from your own experience?
MC: Being that the film is loosely based on my own life it was real easy to draw from my own experiences, the family dynamics especially. I feel like all of the scenes with the behind the scenes of the football world, like the agent scenes and the workout scenes are a side of professional football that have never been captured on camera before and that really brought the authenticity up several notches.
BF: What are some things about your own career that you wish you would have known in hindsight?
MC: This may sound crazy to say but I wish I could have started early, like when I was 18. Just skipped college all together and got right in production. That’s the thing about production. It’s gonna take you a good 3-5 years to learn your craft and to come into your own so I wish I could have started earlier.
BF: What advice would you give to someone who is changing careers paths, especially from the sports arena to other business ventures?
MC: I would say to take the time and learn the business and the best way to learn is to humble yourself and to get on set and PA [Production Assistant].
Catch “The Last Fall” As the opening night film for The 14th Annual Roxbury International Film Festival screening at the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave) at 7p.m. Tickets are $9 – $11 and are available to purchase here.
Photo Credit / The Last Fall