Matt Sconce is an award-winning filmmaker who holds the honor of being both a co-founder and the Chief Creative Officer of a startup company called “Movie Heroes Studios.” Entertainment is an essential part of Matt’s life; he owns a small five-screen theater near Yosemite National Park and won a national music video contest--and, subsequently, a new car--which was hosted by “American Idol.”

Matt has produced many short films and feature films and he has also written numerous feature-length screenplays. His movie “Stricken” was released by Warner Bros/Gravitas and available on approximately 15 million televisions.

Meanwhile, his comedy movie titled “FIREFALL – An Epic Family Adventure” was released theatrically back in 2013. Matt is also a skilled editor and his work for a Local NBC affiliate KSEE24 got him nominated for an EMMY. Moreover, his work has been lauded on the indie circuit where he has been nominated for best screenplay, best Director, best film, and more across numerous projects.

Matt recently produced a short film titled “The Astronaut” which screened so successfully at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner that has now qualified for the Academy Awards. Moreover, in June of 2017, a film that Matt wrote and directed titled "Altar” was released worldwide. “Altar” is a horror movie about a group of college students who wander into the Sierra Nevadas and end up fighting for their survival in a bloody battle with a supernatural force.

The movie has won several awards on the festival circuit and is currently on Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon and more.

Aside from making movies, Matt is a skilled martial artist, and martial arts instructor, who has been inducted into both the Elite Black Belt Hall of Fame and the Argentina Hall of Masters. Matt recently discussed his incredible career, upcoming projects, and more in an exclusive Interview.

Becoming a filmmaker

Meagan Meehan (MM): What initially inspired you to get into movies and why did you become both a writer and a director?

Matt Sconce (MS): I have always loved to tell. I believe storytelling is a way to reach directly into someone’s heart and help them feel something new. I grew up with my father telling me stories every night before going I would go to sleep and I started writing them at a young age.

In high school, I would write thirty-page stories when the assignment asked for ten. I had to tell stories and movies seemed like the perfect way to combine my passion for storytelling with my love for the visual medium of film. Making stories I have written come to life as a director is the perfect combination for me.

MM: What kinds of genres do you most enjoy working in?

MS: I do not have a favorite genre to work in when making movies. As a filmmaker, I look for movies that will inspire me and, regardless of the genre, I want to be involved with them. I have produced and directed comedies, dramas, faith-based films, horror films, and adventure films. If the story captures me, I am all in.

MM: How did you start your company, "Movie Heroes," and what kinds of films do you most seek?

MS: Movie Heroes Studios started with the goal of producing three or four films a year. “Altar” is our first film under this banner. We seek films that inspire us in some fashion. Any genre with a story that makes us want to stand up and cheer and maybe shed a tear is our focus. So far, all the films we have produced have been written by me, but our goal is to have several teams making films at once. Those films will be a combination of my scripts and amazing scripts we option.

MM: What films have you written and what are they about?

MS: My script "Magic" is about a detective who loses his young daughter in a tragic accident. Several years later a little girl appears who is the same age his daughter would have been if she had lived.

The little girl knows all about him and his daughter and claims she can do miracles. Mystery ensues. I have many other scripts written in all genres, waiting for the right timing to launch. The first script I ever wrote and the first film I produced and directed is a horror/thriller called "Stricken". It is currently available on Amazon. I have written seven other scripts. Thrillers, Comedies, Family Adventures and more.

MM: What gave you the idea to write "Altar" and how long did it take to complete?

MS: I wrote it in 2011 as a tight outline that would allow actors to improvise and push the story along. In 2015, I reworked the outline, fleshed it out and began the pre-production process. From the concept to creation, Altar has been in the works for six years.

Though the concept creation phase lasted a while, the filming did not. We filmed the movie in seven days and completed post-production in about four months.

MM: Were any of your characters inspired by real people and what is your favorite thing about the movie?

MS: I wanted the characters in “Altar” to feel real and organic. They were not based on anyone in real life but were based on common themes. One of them longs for the love he lost in the past. Another is insecure about her current relationship. They react and feel like real people because the actors were amazing. They took my tight outline and filled it in with organic, visceral performances. The actors were my favorite thing about making “Altar.” I couldn’t have asked to work with better actors and better people.

Movie theaters and more

MM: What is it like to be the owner of a movie theater, especially now that watching movies at home has become the norm?

MS: Owning a movie theater is as ridiculously amazing as it sounds. I love being able to bring amazing stories to our community the way movies were intended to be seen. Though people do watch movies at home, the theater and communal experience cannot be replicated there, and with our membership system we created, (Movie Heroes - where people pay 19.95/month to watch unlimited movies) our attendance is booming. It is also fun to release my movies in my theater and the community where they were largely made.

MM: You won a car from an "American Idol" contest!

What was that experience like and can you describe the winning video that you created?

MS: My wife and I were newly married and living in a little trailer on my parents’ property. We saw the contest announcement while watching “American Idol” and thought... "Let's give it a try." We gathered our friends and a video camera, had my parents rent a Ford Mustang because we were too young, and shot in one day. I sang "Get Out of My Dreams" by Billy Ocean in the video. The video was about a man who sees a girl in a coffee shop and wants to get her number. He trips, hits his head, and passes out and has a dream the two of them are driving the Mustang down the highway. When he wakes up, she is gone but she left her number in his car.

We made the initial top group and that opened it up to America to vote. We then made the top three in the nation. Finally, we were notified we won it all! We were flown to Hollywood and were in a music video with the American Idols. We attended the finale and after party, and won a 2005 Ford Focus which appeared in my next two movies. This contest is where I realized I loved making movies and it is the big step that started me down the road to being a filmmaker.

MM: You're into martial arts, too. Is that purely a hobby or do you think it impacts your creativity in any way?

MS: I believe martial arts taught me two things that I use every day in the life. The first is that if you just never give up and continue to move forward, you WILL achieve your goals.

The second is that sometimes the road is painful but, if you truly want the end goal, the pain is worth it.

MM: You were nominated for an EMMY and many awards on the indie circuit, so what is it like to get your work so widely recognized?

MS: I just LOVE getting out to the festivals and seeing people experience my movies for the first time. Hearing how it impacted them and how they felt about it is one of my favorite parts of the process. Being surrounded by such creative people inspires me deeply. Getting the movie "Out there" is extremely important and for Altar, the festival route was perfect.

Upcoming projects and events

MM: What do you consider to be some of the most rewarding things about being a professional screenwriter and filmmaker?

MS: As a screenwriter and filmmaker, I always strive to tell a story that connects with people. I long to hear them talk about the character they loved the most or what they got out of the movie. It makes my day to hear them analyzing the story and filling in gaps not even I had put together. Finishing a film, and getting it out there so people can connect to it and tell others about what it meant to their lives, whether as entertainment or even deeper, is my absolute favorite thing. I am a professional dreamer.

MM: What new projects and/or events are coming up soon and where would you like to be in your career in ten years?

MS: I am currently marketing “Altar” and pursuing three scripts that are finished and ready to go.

The first project is a psychological horror/thriller in the vein of “Cube,” another is a family film about a little girl who helps an elderly man recovering from agoraphobia, and the last is the inspirational mystery/drama about the little girl who claims she can do magic. I am also working on a web-series called “SuperBlam” which is about people who are really bad at life who get super powers… and are still really bad at life. I plan to continue making movies and ten years from now will still be making them just with much larger budgets!