We recently caught up with super talented filmmaker, photographer and trail runner Matt Cecill
, the creative mind behind the film Human Powered
which is one of this years selected films for Trails In Motion 8. Matt kindly answered all our questions and gave some great insights into his filmmaking process and creative journey.
Trails In Motion [TIM]: Human Powered is not your usual film about trail running, and shows a unique perspective of the sport, a more behind-the- scenes look at what it takes to put on a race really. What made you want to tell this particular story, and how did you choose which race you wanted to feature in the film?
Matthew Cecill [MC]: Filmmaking and photography have brought me to many running events over the years. Seeing all the work behind the scenes, the dedication, the love – it’s amazing to witness. Participants often get the spotlight in sport documentaries. I was really interested in telling the story of an event through the lens of the organizers and volunteers. The race is in my hometown of Victoria, BC Canada. It was an easy choice as I’m involved with the race every year in a creative capacity. I knew the characters were strong and that there was a good story there.
TIM: So you are also a sports photographer, your images are incredible by the way. How has your work as a photographer influenced your film making style?
MC: Thanks! I really enjoy both disciplines and they feed each other to a degree. Both have their unique challenges and payoffs. I find it helps keep things fresh to be both a filmmaker and photographer. Shooting stills at events has taught me a lot about timing, lighting, navigating courses, interacting with subjects, and about a million other things! Thinking like a photographer while shooting film can really help strip things down and remind me to focus on the frame and the beauty of the shot.
TIM: How long does a project like this normally take you to put together?
MC: This film was about 8 months in the making. Things could have gone quicker had I used a bigger team and split up some of the roles. This film was a real passion project for me and I really wanted to take on most of the production by myself.
TIM: What aspects of the filmmaking process are most important to you, and which do you consider to be your strengths?
MC: I’m naturally drawn to the aesthetic side. I like to jump in and get nice footage immediately because it fuels my fire for the project. Slowing down and planning the project on a more macro level are definitely my weaknesses. I’ve learned the hard way to take more time to script and build out the story up front. It makes everything easier when done properly.
TIM: Did you always want to be a filmmaker? What did your path to filmmaking look like, did you study filmmaking or are you more self taught?
MC: I’m originally self-taught and stumbled into filmmaking by literally running around in the woods with a gopro. I’ve also attended some great workshop-style courses along the way, from which I’ve learned a lot. I’m a trail runner myself, and very passionate about the sport. It was easy to find motivation in sharing the energy of the sport that I fell in love with.
TIM: Who, from a creative point of view inspires you, whether it be filmmaker, photographer, designer or artist and why?
MC: There are so many amazing folks creating wonderful art these days. Honestly I love spending time on Vimeo and going down the rabbit hole, discovering new filmmakers and being inspired by their art. I think slowing down and observing has been my best teacher.
TIM: If money were no object and you could make any film you wanted to, what would it be?
MC: Very tough question! I’m not sure I can answer it directly. I love the human stories in sport. I’m not generally found chasing the lead pack in a race. It would likely be about an interesting soul who I think people could really connect with. Having a nicely padded budget opens many possibilities. For me, the biggest advantage would be the luxury of time and space to really craft the project.