2020-09-02

Former Bridgewater student growing a feature film out of a short about a baby vampire

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Filmmaker Glen Matthews (right) discusses the script with Maritime actor Hugh Thompson.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>In <em>Teething, </em>Maritime actor Hugh Thompson plays a disabled janitor in an orphanage dealing with a baby vampire.</p>

Hailing from Bridgewater, filmmaker Glen Matthews is cutting his teeth on his latest production, Teething.

The short film about a janitor and a baby vampire in an orphanage will be screened in this year's online FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, which was launched on August 19 and runs from September 17 to 24.

And the actor-cum-director Matthews and his team now are in the throes of growing the short film into a feature production.

Teething was produced through Bell Media's Shorts-to-Features program.

"Ideally, if we play our cards right, and the momentum continues ... yeah, the current plan is Teething will be my first feature film," Matthews, who now lives in Toronto, told LighthouseNOW.

If successful, it won't quite be the heavyweight position that the former student of Bridgewater's Park View Education Centre first dreamed about as he pined for a career in professional wrestling. But he's not complaining.

With a 5'8"slight build, it may prove easier to be a big man in a film production. According to Matthews, it's something he realized fairly soon after his high school years.

Minor hockey, and a pool injury at a graduation party that left him with a bruised hip, soon had him thinking twice about a wrestling career.

"It's not good to enter the wrestling business with injuries.," he said. "It just wasn't in the cards. It's a hard life and I woke up very, very quickly to it."

Matthews admits that what appealed to him about professional wrestling was the "theatrics," and at 19 he gravitated toward acting. He honed his craft for five years in Halifax. A graduate of Neptune Theatre School's Pre-Professional Training Program, Matthews was cast in principal roles in film and television including Hobo With a Shotgun, Moby Dick, Roller Town, Haven, and The Corridor.

In in 2010 he appeared in Logan & I, which was featured as part of Halifax's Queer Acts Theatre Festival, for which, according to his IMDb biography, Matthews received rave reviews as well as an Outstanding Lead Actor nomination from Theatre Nova Scotia's Robert Merritt Awards.

In time, he would "fall out of love" with acting, increasingly convinced he could create a better work environment and end film result running a production himself.

The demise of the Nova Scotia film industry that resulted in the Nova Scotia government's changes to the film tax credit system was the "kick out the door" Matthews said he needed to set out on his own as a filmmaker.

"In retrospect, I feel like it was all leading to me just building up the courage to wanting to say 'I'm having my own film,'" recalled Matthews.

The first film "that I did properly" - the short film, Room Service - was completed in 2012 and was screened in what was then simply the Atlantic Film Festival.

According to Matthews, the idea for a film about a baby vampire stems from a joke at a social function. He admits he's never been keen on the horror movie genre, while he says the vampire is a much over-used film angle.

"I feel like there's a lot of cheap techniques that go into modern horror as we know it," said Matthews. "I wanted to build something that was human but ... adding a little bit of pepper into it."

Moreover, he said, "The vampire has been done to death, a million times over, over, over."

But he was aware "it's still somehow shockingly fertile ground....time and time again you see people getting their foot in the door through these things."

He felt he had an interesting angle with the idea of a baby vampire. And he was convinced that casting his idol, Maritime actor Hugh Thompson, with whom he's worked in the past, as the disabled janitor would bring something "true and human" to the film.

Work on a feature film stemming from the short is well underway with development support from Bell Media's Harold Greenberg Fund. And, according to Matthews, he's already in talks with "Hollywood companies."

But while he's hopeful a feature will result from the short film, he's not taking anything for granted. Like any good wrestler, Matthews is wary of complacency.

"There's nothing more tenuous than positive momentum in the entertainment industry," he said.

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