Matt Wilkins has no illusions about independent filmmaking. It’s no way to get rich or famous. “I’d venture to guess that 90 percent of low-budget independents do not make money,” he says. “Some people would even say that percentage is higher. So I’ve been freelancing all these years, working on Web promos, municipal videos, legal depositions, city council meetings, and now reality TV.”
But not just any TV show: Wilkins is currently a producer and story editor for the creepily addictive A&E hit Hoarders, produced by Seattle’s Screaming Flea Productions. His job covers everything from setting up the location shoots to interviews to editing stories from the raw video. “It’s about crazy people, and I’m good at that,” he laughs.
Between freelance gigs, Wilkins is driven to make movies: personal, intimate, unsettling films about the stresses and strains of family. Marrow, his second feature, explores the fragility—physical and emotional—of kin, similar to his first feature (Buffalo Bill’s Defunct, seen at SIFF ’04), but with greater cinematic confidence and dramatic intensity.
Centered on three characters, almost to the exclusion of the outside world, Marrow concerns the fraught relationship between single mom Frances (Frances Hearn, from Buffalo Bill’s Defunct) and her often exasperatingly rude and surly teenage son Wiley (Wiley Wilkins, the director’s son). Meanwhile, the shadow of her late father (Todd Jefferson Moore, a veteran of Seattle Shakespeare Company and other local stages), who died less than a year earlier, haunts the film through her hazy memories.
Marrow plays at SIFF at Harvard Exit on Wednesday, June 1 at 7 p.m and at Admiral on Saturday, June 4 at 3:30 p.m.