Bossing It in association withLBB Pro

Bossing It: Staying Grateful and Humble with Matthew Marquis

Production Company
Los Angeles, USA
Managing director at Golden LA on leading with wit, kindness and inclusion

Matt’s pioneering, award-winning work with forward thinking brands is the new frontier. A veteran of live action and VFX companies like Brand New School, Stardust, and Logan,  Matt founded Golden LA, a multi-disciplinary production company. He has developed a roster of directors working in all mediums and has led design, animation, and live-action divisions from coast to coast before launching GOLDEN LA. Matt drives teams with leading edge expertise, laser-focused on seamless integration of all phases of the creative and production process.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?

Matt> My first real experience in leadership was doing cross country in college. As the lead runner of our team, part of my role was to inspire and motivate everyone (despite some uphill battles!) Then in filmmaking, I started out in music videos and amidst the chaos, there was always room for leadership, even as a neophyte. My first role as an EP of a larger company was helping Fuel grow from a small design/animation company into a multi-office 360 production house that was ultimately acquired by Razorfish. 

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?

Matt> Early on, I worked for some tough producers (and directors) who ruled with the iron glove and often didn’t necessarily give sensical direction to back up their monarchical leadership style. As a PA I made a conscious decision to lead with wit, kindness and inclusion. 

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Matt> I was lucky early on to have some mentors who taught me how to communicate difficult information in ways that would inspire as opposed to deflate.

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so, how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?

Matt> I wanted to direct films (that’s coming!) so there was always a sense of wanting to lead and create. However, as opposed to films, I have created companies which have (hopefully) reflected both my personality and leadership style.  

Each company is like its own film. It has a beginning, middle (and end, which of course varies). I knew after my experience at Fuel and helping the founder of that company grow it into something incredible that this was something I also wanted to do myself. 

LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?

Matt> I treasure the people I work with. They are always the most valuable assets of any entity so by proxy, they also teach me the most. I learn more from listening to them than almost anything. But again, early on, I was fortunate to work for several producers that belonged to what I would call the “new school,” which leaned into creativity and ingenuity versus “yelling” (to be blunt.) 

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?

Matt> All forms of constructive criticism are difficult but vital. I need to remind myself that I am really helping my team member AND the team even though the message itself can be difficult. 

LBB> Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?

Matt> I have failed many times. Often, running a creative and production driven company requires intuition and TRUSTING and executing upon that. Whether it relates to a project, a creative or how a team is structured, sometimes you have to trust your gut and act upon it. Looking back, some of my biggest mistakes were tied to not trusting my instincts. 

Gosh, this is a long list. My biggest failures have often been tied to instances where I didn’t communicatea piece of criticism or advice, either on an individual or team level. 

LBB> In terms of leadership and openness, what’s your approach there? Do you think it’s important to be transparent as possible in the service of being authentic? Or is there a value in being careful and considered?

Matt> I’m an open book basically, which opens the door for my staff and collaborators to communicate and express themselves in the same way. Which almost always leads to a more productive and fulfilling process for all involved. 

LBB> As you developed your leadership skills did you have a mentor, if so who were/are they and what have you learned? And on the flip side, do you mentor any aspiring leaders and how do you approach that relationship?

Matt> It’s hard to single out in any single person. I was lucky enough to have been taken under the wing of some excellent producers and directors who generally shared similar attributes and values as me.  There are a lot of ways to tackle challenges in our business and my mentors almost invariably used tact, skill, and inclusion as their core problem-solving tools.  

LBB> It's been a really challenging few years - and that's an understatement. How do you cope with the responsibility of leading a team through such difficult waters?

Matt> The first four months were simply crazy. I felt like I was coaching a basketball team that was down 25 points in the first half. My message was simply, “we’re going to be okay and I got your back.”

We were lucky to keep our entire staff employed during the that initial stretch of time which really helped maintain a sense of safety.

LBB> These past few years have seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this?

Matt> It’s been an amazing year to see how energized and focused the production community has become surrounding diversity. There are so many ways a company like Golden can lead on this front and we believe it relates to our own studio staffing and how we approach production.  Like any challenge, you have to push and be proactive. Idleness on this front (talk and no action) is meaningless. 

LBB> How important is your company culture to the success of your business? And how have you managed to keep it alive with staff working remotely in 2020?

Matt> Everyone is nice to one another. We laugh and keep everything right-sized. Our team is bound by these core values. It’s impossible to describe how strong the glue of mutual respect is. 

LBB> What are the most useful resources you’ve found to help you along your leadership journey?

Matt> Again, being kind and taking the time to put yourselves in the shoes of each and every peer to better support them professionally and personally.  Ultimately, I am extremely approachable and the people at my company know and appreciate that.

And always stay grateful and HUMBLE.

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