Matt Gentile '12

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, American Film Institute MFA

What did you do after graduating from Connecticut College?

Shortly after graduating, I worked at an entertainment agency in New York -- William Morris Endeavor -- where I started in the famous mailroom. While there -- on the side -- I wrote and directed a short film on the budget of a one week's paycheck (which I believe totaled to $650) -- and used it to apply to AFI for their graduate directing program.  Later that year, after being promoted to the talent department -- I was accepted to AFI and made the move to Los Angeles in August of 2013. After graduating in 2015, my thesis film, FRONTMAN, which I wrote and directed -- played 60 film festivals worldwide and won a dozen prizes -- including the Student Emmy for Best Directing. Off the heels of FRONTMAN, I was hired to direct a short film at Toei Studios in Japan and quickly after that, in a series of unusual circumstances -- I was hired by AFI to direct a second thesis film called LAWMAN which is currently playing the festival circuit starting at the Oscar-qualifying LA Shorts Festival.


What are you up to now?

Currently, I'm in the process of putting together my first feature film which I wrote and am directing. The feature script just made it to the top 5% of the Academy Nicholl Competition, so I'm now revising it and getting ready to shop it around -- as my team and I received funding to make a proof of concept short film which I am shooting with some great actors involved. I'm really excited about it!


How did Film at Connecticut College prepare you for the field?

Film at Conn taught me a lot of the fundamental and foundational things required for the field. Reading films and analyzing them critically, to the 101’s of production are essential for when you get out there. You're always learning on the job in film, there's never something not to learn or not to know, and Conn gave me the tools I needed to begin -- without it I would've been very lost at AFI and after. The Film Studies Department and the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, was incredibly important to me as they gave me the space to grow, learn, and let me make the projects I wanted to do and find myself as a filmmaker in the early formative years (which are still ongoing, I think!).


What were your favorite things about Film at Connecticut College?

For me, the biggest takeaway was exploring new types of cinema that I'd never been exposed to before, and expanding my horizons. For one instance, I remember Dr. Martin showing us Last Year at Marienbad and my mind being blown. I also remember David Greven's Hitchcock class, and looking at films you'd grown up with and really understanding what they meant in a cultural context was crucial. The production side, both from my time at Conn and my semester abroad in Prague, were also key to laying in the groundwork for when I got to AFI and where I'm at now. So I would say the film department at Conn laid in the foundation, stretched my thinking, and pushed me to go deeper in how I looked at films and filmmakers.