Short Animation: Hair Love - Interview with Filmmaker Matthew Cherry
Los Angeles, California
Award Winning Filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his new animated short film, Hair Love. The Chicago native and former NFL wide receiver turned filmmaker has directed two feature films and over 20 music videos. Cherry collaborated with character designer, Vashti Harrison on the forthcoming animated short film about an African American Father attempting to do his daughter's hair for the first time. The Hair Love Kickstarter campaign closes on Wednesday, August 9th at 8p PST.
We spoke with Matthew about the new project and his emerging career in film.
About his new project, Hair Love:
Hair Love is a 5 min short film centering around the relationship between an African American father and daughter. When his wife becomes unavailable Stephen, the father, volunteers to do his daughter, Zuri's hair. He thinks it will be a fairly simple task but soon discovers that her hair has a mind of its own and from there hilarity ensues. I wanted to do a short project as my first foray into animation and put a spotlight on African American fathers in a way that is not normally depicted in the media.
What was the inspiration behind the project?
I’ve always wanted to do animation. They tend to be the most universal and tell the best stories. Typically the animation medium is a very expensive, these movies can cost up to a million dollars a minute. However, I found some shorter animation projects were completed within the six figure range. I felt I had the social media following to help leverage that by fundraising.
Also, viral videos of black dads doing their daughters hair served as inspiration. Watching these videos go viral I knew there was a market for this concept. While a father doing his child’s hair should not be an anomaly, I hope this project will serve as a way to help normalize black families in the media.
You started a Kickstarter for the project and you have raised over 170,000 (at time of the interview). Were you expecting this level of support?
I felt confident we could reach our goal (100,000) just from my market research, but I did not expect this level of support. It has tapped into a market that wants this type of content. Every day I get a celebrity shout out via social media or an email from a company that has heard about the project. It’s kind of crazy to go viral while you are raising money.
You have a remarkable social media presence. How has social media helped with your career pursuit?
Social media has been extremely instrumental in my development and growth as a filmmaker. I have always seen Twitter as being an important tool because the feedback is so immediate.
In a weird way, Trump becoming President helped me grow my twitter following. It gave me the power to speak my mind more on issues with a clear opinion and people really to gravitated towards that. As a filmmaker, it has helped me to cultivate an audience. I believe that is the future of the film business, building your following and selling directing to them.
What advice would you give to a new filmmaker just starting out?
Don’t wait. You will never know enough information; the circumstances will never be ideal, just start now. I have learned so much from the projects I have done. If I had waited for conditions to be perfect, I would have never made anything. I think circumstances become ideal when you act and the universe transpires around you to help things move forward.
From your first film project until now, what has been the biggest lesson you have learned?
The biggest lesson I have learned is to listen. Do not believe you know everything. Hire people who are smarter than you and listen to them. Take their advice, use what works and forget what doesn’t.
What quote or affirmation do you live your life by?
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. - Henry David Thoreau
I’m 35, I have lived out two dreams, I played in the NFL for two years, and now I’m a filmmaker. I think a lot of that was willed into being by making a lot of sacrifices, but it was done with the confidence that everything was going to work.