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New Talent

New Talent: Matilda Finn

FRIEND London director and UKMVA Best New Director 2017 on inspirations and why she watches movies on mute

New Talent: Matilda Finn

Matilda Finn is a director and photographer known for creating visceral, visual landscapes. Signed to FRIEND London, she recently picked up the Best New Director at the UKMVAs for her work with Danny Brown, Bicep and Obongjayar.

LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with Matilda Finn to chat growing up in Kent, how video games and Asian cinema inspire her and to find out why she watches films on mute. 


LBB> Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, and what kind of kid were you?

Matilda Finn> I was brought up in Kent and I was a little black sheep. I lived in my head a lot (lived or live, that’s maybe more accurate). The two films I watched as a child were not cute, they were Zulu (1964) and Fantasia. Later, I wasn’t allowed out much, so I watched a lot of TV and films.

My dad has incredible taste in music – he was always blasting the best and most eclectic music. So I would watch TV and films, but on mute - listening to his music from the other room. I would watch Buffy (yes, the vampire slayer) smashing some guy’s head in to some Squarepusher or be watching films to Herbie Hancock or Brian Eno or some Bosa Nova track. At 11 years old, I think that shit sticks with you. And I still do that now, just watch scenes to music.


LBB> In your bio, it says your “dark style is from [your] Asian cinematic and gaming interest from her formative years”. Are there any movies or games in particular you can attribute it to?

MF> Kwaidan and Tokyo Drifter were on repeat for me as a teen (to a different soundtrack…ha).

Discovering Wong Kar-wai was a big game changer.

Akira and Ghost in the Shell (highly original thing to say now). Old Boy. All fucked me up.

Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 10 are very important games to me as is Metal Gear Solid (Solid Snake mostly). Don’t get it twisted though, I’m no ‘cool gamer chick’. I have an older brother, and it was his vested interest (obsession) in gaming (and Japan too actually) that rubbed off on me. Mostly because he wouldn’t really let me play so I could only watch - but I didn’t care, I would be so engrossed in just watching, I loved it. Still to this day I will watch a whole series of the cutscenes. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure.


LBB> Could you tell us a bit about the music video you directed for Bicep? What inspired the narrative?

MF> The music inspired the images, it’s kind of that simple actually. Everything starts as a daydream. It’s very symbolic that one…

LBB> And I love the music video you did for Obongjayar, it’s quite energetic, even with the slow pace of the camera. Can you tell us a bit more about the production and idea behind it?

MF> Thank you so much. 

It’s a very ‘pure’ idea again… I just get inspired by music and the story just appears really. The music makes me feel something and then I just try and make that feeling ‘tangible’, I suppose.

But the song is about living forever (through your imprint on the world) which is something I really got ‘excited’ by because I resonate a lot with that thought process.

We had very little money and it was a beautiful production. I was very overwhelmed with the turn out, especially with the club scene – those guys killed it and we pushed it a lot. They brought the energy.

A little anecdote would be, that kid who shouts ‘I will live forever’ is just a kid off the street we found two minutes before. He wasn’t even just on the street – he was in car at the traffic lights outside – and our runner Giacomo Esposito (ultimate G) just went up to their nan and asked if we could take him. And I went and explained to her, which took 0.5 seconds of convincing. I think she just wanted some free babysitting. 

On a side note, that club, it’s actually a sex dungeon. So it all felt very seedy and wrong but it was all great and that kind of thing really restores my faith in humanity.

Big up the team, especially: Nick Hayes (producer), Joel Honeywell (DP), Jake Whitehouse (Steadicam), Justin Rose (stylist genius and also casting partner in crime), Andrea Gomez and her team (make up), Afi Attipoe and her team, who were also in the video because they are incredible (hair), Ashleigh Latter and team (art department). Also Steven was an incredible artist to work with – what a track, and what a talent


LBB> Who are your creative heroes and inspirations?

MF> Jeez that’s a big question… Okay so here are some names that have inspired me. They’re not very new, but you can’t knock the greats in directing and photography: Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher, Chris Cunningham, Jonathan Glazer, Wong Kar-wai, Daido Moriyama, William Klein, Steven Klein, Araki Nobuyoshi, Helmut Newton, Nick Knight.


LBB> Which projects are you most proud of and why?

MF> There is a bunch of work I did when I was going through a particularly rough time. I am most proud of those, not because of the material per se (I have done better work since) but because I know no matter what, creating is paramount for me - no matter the circumstances.

Also that was when I just went fully venerable with my work and really just decided to ‘do me’ or fuck it, and it’s been working out ok.


LBB> Outside of work, what do you like to get up to?

MF> Outside work?


LBB> What are your aims for 2017?

MF> Momentum/improvement


LBB> Finally, any tips for budding filmmakers out there?

MF> Please just be you, think about longevity – and think of your goddamn soul too.