In conversation with Mat Sunderland
Mat is a filmmaker with a background in fashion, corporate and brand films. He edits, shoots and produces films himself. He absolutely loves that his work takes him all over the world and he threads the roads less traveled, while creating memorable content pieces.
We, at the Moonworkers team enjoyed our time talking together when Mat shared his journey so far, secrets on how he raises funds and gave tips on distribution.
How did you start your own film production company? What was the journey like?
My first production company was set up for the feature film Draining Lizards. After that, we parted ways with our executive producer. And our second production company was set up by the producer and production manager of Draining Lizards to make short films and features from that point on. The company in that form lasted about a year before one of them went away as a tax exile and the other moved to Spain. So I carried on regardless.
It’s hard work and it still is a challenge to keep moving forward. It’s very easy for you to get into a rut and carry on producing the same stuff over and over again, and not moving to the sort of areas that you want to move into. But if you keep at it eventually, I think, by iteration you can get more work.
How do you raise funding for your feature films?
I raised the funds for my feature films, mainly privately. I find a producer who’s interested and we work together to pull together resources from both our companies and from outside individuals to pay for the film’s projects which have always been quite low budget. As you know, 100,000 pounds is a lot easier to raise than a million. I tried to use the government funds systems, and they are sort of set up for different kinds of filmmakers- filmmakers who are less privileged than myself. So I’ve never really had a lot of luck with that. But generally, finding the funds privately means you have a lot more control of your scripts and your development process. So that’s why I tend to go for it.
Where do you find and meet film industry professionals in London?
I generally meet film industry professionals on other jobs. So I made one commercial on corporate jobs, and I would talk to the cameraman, the DOP, the sound man, the caterer. Everyone loves films. So you just have to find which genre they like, and then get talking and engaging. And that way you can meet people who are like minded and want to get involved and want to do the work.
How much does it cost to distribute an independent film?
Distributing an independent film can cost anything from peanuts to millions. It kind of depends on which way you want to go. Do you want to take it around all the cinema festivals that can cost you quite a bit or do you just want to walk into the first distributor you get and let them do the work for you. Again, it’s not really my area of expertise.
What are the best movie distribution companies in the UK?
I think distribution is a lot easier now, than it used to be, because you can go direct to your consumer. And also, you can go directly to Amazon, you can put it on YouTube. You can get your film out there no matter what, even if no one else is interested.
With regards to the best movie distribution companies, I think the best ones are the ones that buy your film. Essentially, they’ll then push for it, they’ll try and make it go further. If you’re a small independent, don’t expect to get any money back from a distribution company. Because if you do make money, they will put all their costs onto your film. And you won’t see a penny of backend. So just whatever you get up front is all you’re going to get. We generally try to break-even and anything on top of that is a bonus. But again, you can see from my history that I don’t have a huge amount of films out there. But I am continually working, trying to meet more people. Make more films.
All in all, Matt has extensive experience working with clients including Barclays, Ted Baker, Speedo, Tesco, Allergan, The Great Little Trading Company, Ricoh, The National Gallery, Berghaus, Visa, Head and Shoulder and many, many more.