If you have seen the most recent Showit promotional video for Showit Custom Mobile, or any pro looking video put out by Showit or PASS in the last few years, you know who Nathanael Matanick is, because he is the creative mind behind those videos. He is also the creator of numerous short films, including ReMoved, a powerful story that gives a glimpse into the life of a child in foster care. He is also a long time Showiteer, and you can see his work on nathanael.co. Read more about him and his most recent project below.
What sparked your interest in film and video?
Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to make movies. But especially after seeing Jurassic Park, that was it for me.
The idea of being able to create an emotion in someone–that just seemed so amazing to me. You can't do that with information alone. But with a story, you can get information across in a very emotional way. And that just resonates with me. I process everything very emotionally, so communicating through such an emotional medium just seems natural to me.
Where and how did you develop your skills?
I started out by just shooting TONS of home video footage. Then i started making up stories, and my sisters were forced to act in them. The stories mostly consisted of velociraptors eating them in various ways. Then in school I started making videos to promote school events and whatnot. That transitioned into wedding videos because those paid money. So really it was just a process of continually practicing, and slowly getting better. That's the process I'm still in right now.
What is your favorite style of video to make?
I love telling stories about people and the human condition–stories that are more about the inner process a person goes through, and less about their external circumstances.
What advice would you give to aspiring videographers or film makers?
I feel I'm hardly in a place to be dishing out advice. But there are a few things that others have told me that I try to remember, and these things have helped me. David Cunningham, a Director I respect, said to me, “Don't do something in order to do what you want to do. Just do what you want to do.” It's so easy to get caught up in working your way up. But really, if you want to make a film, just grab a camera and start shooting. Don't wait for someone to give you permission to do so.
Something I've taken to heart from David Jay is to share your gifts. To give freely. We did this when releasing ReMoved. Instead of trying to keep it to ourselves, or figure out how to make money off of it, we just gave it away. Hundreds of agencies from all over the world have been implementing the film into their training and curriculum. And we just say yes to it. People have even been remaking it in their own languages, incorporating some of the lines into their songs, and using the footage in their music videos. And this helps us, because all the views it gets brings us recognition for it. I will also give my time for free on people's personal projects if they don't have a budget, just as people gave their time for free on ReMoved.
Also, surround yourself with people who are more talented than you are. Your work is only going to be as good as you are (unfortunately). So get some people on board who blow you out of the water.
And one I'm still trying to implement is this–It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit. That's a hard one because it deals with our pride.
Fun facts about you?
I love rice! I would literally eat white rice and curry every meal of the day if I could.
I also prefer to not wear shoes.
Who or what has helped you most in your business?
Gee. That's a hard one. I'm terrible at my business. But I think I'm going to say my wife has helped me the most. She's the smart one. Every time I've been smart enough to follow her suggestions, things have worked out great. Another thing is being available to people. If you share yourself with people, then people are more willing to help you when you need it. So, I guess I would say that's community.
Can you tell us about the name of your website, Heschle?
I actually originally wanted to called it ThanStuff, which was how I signed everything in high school. But thanstuff.com was already taken. Looking back, I'm glad it was. Heschle is my Hebrew name, after my great Uncle Heschle. So I just went with it. But I'm in process of transitioning to just “Nathanael” because people get so confused about Heschle, so I've started using www.nathanael.co.
What dreams do you have for your business?
I've never been a business sort of guy. I'm so bad at it. To me, my business is a necessary evil, allowing me to make videos. That attitude is probably why I'm so bad at business. But I really struggle with this a lot. I struggle with believing that I'm not terrible at what I do. That I am in fact okay at it. And yet, I'm so bad at making money at it. I think that's the starving artist nature in me. So, if you're reading this, and you think you have some good tips for me, then hit me up! I will work for food. 😉
Tell us about the making of Removed, and the decision to follow it up with a sequel.
We made ReMoved because we were in training to become foster/adoptive parents. In the training we learned about the child in care, and what they might say if they could put words to it. We were so heartbroken as we were trying to envision our own children in these desperately sad and difficult situations. I leaned to Christi and said “we have to make a short film about this.” And we did. We called it ReMoved.
The whole premise of the film was to let us see things through the eyes of the child, and hear what the child might say if the child were able to process it. But all through the filmmaking process, we were realizing that the story isn't as simple as we were putting forth. The birth parents aren't bad guys, and we can't demonize them. They have a story too. In fact, all the players have a story. The birth parents, the foster parents, the social workers, and the foster system. In Part Two, we want to look at all the things surrounding the child–the people that shape the child–and explore how all those things working together can help break the cycle of brokenness. We still plan to make this one from Zoe's point of view as well.
What has your own involvement with foster care been?
Our approval process has been taking forever. Is that normal? We actually just got a call for a child yesterday. And as we've been praying through and talking through how we'll respond, it's been heartbreaking to know that there's a child waiting for someone to say yes. And I realize that the truth is, that is always the case. There are always children just waiting for a family to say “yes, come be a part of our family.” It just doesn't seem real to us. But it is real. I want to put this feeling into Part Two.
What results would you like to see follow from this film?
Even though ReMoved got millions of views, and has been put in use for trainings by hundreds of foster agencies, what has been most special to us has been the response we've received from thousands of foster alum telling us how impacted they were by the film–how they felt we were telling their personal story, and how the film helped them process their past. That was huge for us. I want the same thing for this next film. But more then that, we want it to really be something that allows us (everyone who watches it) to wrestle through what we can do differently. Even if every foster child currently in the system in America were reunited with their parents or adopted today, we would still have a problem, because new kids are always continuing to stream into the system. So what's the more holistic approach to this? How can we not only help the kid, but how can we help their birth family? How can foster parents work together with birth parents for the sake of the child? These are the conversations we'd love to see take place.
Check out Nathanael's recent interview on Showit Live discussing working on personal projects and watch the first ReMoved film below. If you would like more information about ReMoved Part Two, read more at their Kickstarter page removedfilm.com and consider helping to fund this project by becoming a backer or sharing this project with others.
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