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Marrow

Interview: Matt Wilkins on Filmmaking, Family and ‘Marrow’

Marrow screens at Northwest Film Forum for two nights, on Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25. See the NWFF website for showtimes and ticket information.

I’ve known filmmakers Matt Wilkins and Eliza Fox for almost eight years. I met them when their first film, Buffalo Bill’s Defunct, had its local premiere at SIFF in 2004, and would check in when we ran into one another at film events and receptions around town. But it had been a few years since I was able to really catch up, which made my interview with them in May 2011 doubly pleasurable. Their second feature, Marrow, was playing SIFF 2011 and I had the good fortune to profile the filmmakers for Seattle Weekly and cast a spotlight on Marrow, a personal, intimate, haunting film and a significant step forward for director Wilkins.

The conversation, which lasted well over an hour, took place at the Fort St. George Grill in the International District on May 7, 2011. Ryan Purcell, the film’s director of photography, joined us toward the end of the interview. We began by talking about what’s been happening since I last spoke with them in 2006.

Eliza Fox, Matt Wilkins, house

Matt Wilkins: I’ve been trying to get it for quite a while now. I don’t know how long it’s been, actually.

Sean Axmaker: Buffalo Bill’s Defunct was 2004.

MW: Sorta since then, yeah. (laughs)

Every ten years or so you get a feature out.

MW: It’s like the seven year itch. It was project that took a long time to put together. It started with, about thirteen months before we even shot Buffalo Bill’s Defunct, my dad was dying and the stuff he was telling me on his death bed was the beginning of the story. So really it’s been ten years in the making if you count all that thinking time.

Buffalo Bill is about family and the kids worrying about a father who seems to be losing his good sense as he’s getting older. Does that come from the same place?

MW: That’s more about my grandpa. He really did try to tear down the garage and it was really frickin’ dangerous and we were truing to convince him now to do it and were really worried about it. That happened in the late nineties and was the beginning of that story.

The wellspring of your films is your family.

MW: Yes, definitely.

And your stories are all about family.

MW: It’s all personal stuff. I try to take my own life experience, which has formed a specific world view, and turn it into art.

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Cluttered Homes and Haunted Houses: Matt Wilkins and ‘Marrow’

Marrow, the second feature from Seattle filmmaker Matt Wilkins, screens at Northwest Film Forum for two nights, on Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25, with director Wilkins in attendance. I wrote a profile of Wilkins and his film for the film’s local debut at SIFF 2011. I reprint the feature, originally published in Seattle Weekly on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, below.

Visit the NWFF website for showtimes and ticket information.

Frances Hearn in 'Marrow'

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.

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SIFF 2011: Cluttered Homes and Haunted Houses – Matt Wilkins’ “Marrow”

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.”

Crazy from grief? Actress Frances Hearn.

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.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

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.