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Matthew Modine goes App at 2014 Digital Hollywood Content Summit

The room stood still while Golden Globe Winner and Author Matthew Modine (“The Dark Knight Rises”) gave a keynote at the 2014 Digital Hollywood Content Summit yesterday in Marina del Rey, California. Writer and Filmmaker FX Feeney (LA Weekly) interviewed Matthew about his “Full Metal Jacket” App, new film, and crowd funding campaign for his upcoming “Full Metal Jacket Diary” audio book.

Matthew Modine and FX Feeney at 2014 Digital Hollywood at Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, California.
Matthew Modine and FX Feeney at 2014 Digital Hollywood at Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey, California.
Liz H Kelly
Golden Globe Winner Matthew Modine goes app at 2014 Digital Hollywood Keynote
by Liz H Kelly

With a bandana on his forehead, Matthew described how Academy Award Winner Stanley Kubrick (“A Clockwork Orange”) encouraged him to keep a journal and take photographs while playing the lead role of Pvt. Joker on the set of the Vietnam movie classic, “Full Metal Jacket” in 1985.

When asked by FX Feeney about what set Kubrick apart, Matthew reflected, “I think the first weird moment was when I received the script through my mail slot from Stanley Kubrick. I didn’t know how he found me. Usually, the process would be coming thru your agent or manager, and I received the script with a personal note from Stanley Kubrick asking me to be in his film.”

And everything about this filming experience was unique. Stanley told Matthew, “I have a rule, ‘there are no bad ideas’. If I suggest something, don’t say oh that’s stupid, or that would never work, say oh, that’s interesting, let me think about or let me get back to you or suggest something else. Ok?” And then Stanley continually asked Matthew to think about the ending of the movie, which eventually changed based on Matthew’s suggestions after months of being asked for ideas.

After the movie, the actual ending continues to evolve and change with an innovative “Full Metal Jacket App” and upcoming “Full Metal Jacket Diary” audio book. For the App, Matthew explained, “The book is a certain experience…, but then we took the negatives, which were reproduced rather dark I feel in the book, and we did high res digital scans of all the negatives and pull out information that you couldn’t see in a print and because its an App you can open up the photographs and see what kind of lenses Stanley had on his cameras or what kind of film stock he was using.”

Matthew then expanded on the “Full Metal Jacket” App, “The other thing about the App is that it was something that had never been created before. They’ve now coined a term here in Hollywood called an Appumentary because it’s not a documentary and it’s not a book, it’s an Appumentary. It’s a way of exploring information that had never been done before. And it is extraordinary.”

And while you might think they’ve made a ton of money on the app, it’s really been a labor of love with a handful of people bringing it to life for fans. Matthew added, “It was very hard to sell because people don’t want to spend more than $1.99 on an app. Now the interesting thing is the audio book is coming out, the audio book is $25. People will spend $25 on an audio book, but they won’t spend $9.99 on an app. And the experience of the app is extraordinary with all the photos, but the audio book is just the audio with a booklet with the photos.”

Matthew then emphasized; “One of the tech geniuses on his app team in Silicon Valley told him, ‘The thing that’s valuable about what you created is the framework, that something you can monetize.’” They will probably never make back their investment from app sales, but can make money on the tools.

For the crowd funding project, Matthew gave his team photo prints from the set, and they sold them thru crowd funding. They raised $15,000 on Kickstarter for the audio book that covers the costs of making it.

Reflecting on the film business evolution, Matthew added, “It’s easy to make a film today, but the most difficult thing to do is to find eye balls and get distribution.”

Matthew is currently making a feature film about 5 youth in a rock n roll band in 1962. He’s casting actors and singers who can sing so there is a real story about a band. To market the film, he will take the band with him to festivals.

Unless you have a film that comes out a film festival and receives a ton of notoriety and you get picked up and bought by a major distributor, he feels it’s very hard to get noticed. Reflecting on the upcoming blockbuster movie, Matthew added, “Godzilla’s coming out, and you can’t drive down the street in LA without seeing a poster for Godzilla. You make a film for $100,000 - $1 Million and your advertising budget is $20k-$50k, its like being an ant screaming don’t step on me as the man Godzilla steps on you and crushes you. It’s very hard.”

During the Q&A afterwards, Matthew was asked about his support for the Wounded Warrior Project. He donates a portion of the book profits to this charity, and you can hear him describe how WWP supports veterans in our VIDEO: Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket) supports Wounded Warrior Project.

Many thanks to Matthew Modine for sharing these digital entertainment tips on how to stand out among the 7,000 movies that will be made this year through authenticity, and extend the life of a movie for decades thru a diary book, appumentary and audiobook.

© Liz H Kelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody Awards Founder

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