Interview: Matthew Coleshill – Visual Effects Assistant for ‘X-Men: First Class’

Matthew Coleshill is quickly becoming a go-to-guy in regards to film production. After graduating from Scottsdale Community College in 2008 and going on to earn a Master’s in Motion...

Matthew Coleshill is quickly becoming a go-to-guy in regards to film production.

After graduating from Scottsdale Community College in 2008 and going on to earn a Master’s in Motion Picture Editing from the American Film Institute in 2010, Coleshill has managed to build an incredible portfolio of work in the movie industry. Only a year out of grad school, Coleshill has contributed to the following movies: Capitalism: A Love Story, Men Who Stare At Goats, Law Aiding Citizen, Pandorum, and The Crazies. He has since worked on Gulliver’s Travels, and the upcoming X-Men: First Class.

Nicholas Yanes: When did you realize that you wanted to work in films? Particularly, there hundreds of job opportunities in the entertainment industry. What was it about editing that appealed to you?

Matthew Coleshill: Movies, especially Horror/Sci-fi, are a lifelong passion of mine. As a kid the only place I ever wanted to go was the video store. When I had exhausted their inventory the natural progression was to collect neighborhood kids and school friends and make my own movies. We borrowed equipment and edited at school where they had dual VCRs and a Kyron. On one show the master tape got chewed in a VCR destroying about 80% of the footage. For the first time I had to really focus on the edit instead of just using it as a means to mechanically piece my footage together. My eyes were opened, I felt that editing saved us and being able to save movies really appealed to me. That lead to studying editing at SCC, where I learned the technical skills and then having all the stars align for me to attend AFI where I gained more on film, editing and myself than I could have anywhere else (I also learned to make dubs of EVERYTHING!).

Yanes: You got to learn from Wes Craven during the production My Soul To Take. What were some of the things you learned from this Legend of Horror? Also, did you at any point think you were going to geek-out in Craven’s presence?

Coleshill: You’d be hard pressed to find someone in horror more legendary than Wes. I gained insight not just from him but also from his amazing crew. Watching him work during the sound sessions of My Soul to Take really was a dream come true. At film school you see tons of directors work, many are excitable or hot headed. I was amazed at how restrained and articulate Wes was. He’s a man of few words but they all mean something. He understands every facet of the film making process and knows what he wants to achieve out the gate.

It’s hard not to geek out around him but I hope I did a pretty decent job of restraining myself. It’s difficult to meet someone you’ve watched for years and read so much on. You have to be careful not to act like you know everything about them, I’ve seen this happen countless times!

Yanes: A lot of people who want to enter the film industry have the misconception that one movie will financially and professionally set up them for life. What are some of the hard realities of the film business that you’ve learned?

Coleshill: The harsh reality of the film business is that it’s less about film and more about business. Starting out is difficult because with most things in life you say “Well if I start here, and I go here then I’ll end up here” but this industry is so open ended there’s no clear path, it’s like heading through the Amazon with a machete. There’s no such thing as overnight success, even the people who seemingly come out of left field have been doing it for years. Inconsistency can be frustrating. There’s a constant need to have 6 things on the back burner at all times because 5 of them will never happen. People always think that their first job will lead to more but it’s not always true, getting your foot in the door is only the first step. Working doesn’t mean you’ll live in a house on a hill, you may only barely be able to pay your bills. It’s a non-stop job, 24/7 because it’s a career that depends on peer relationships but in the end of the day, if it’s a true passion of yours, it’s totally worth it.

Yanes: You have worked on sci-fi/fantasy films (Gulliver’s Travels, X-Men: First Class) and movies that are less fantastical (Turkey Bowl, Everything Must Go). What are some of the differences between working on a sci-fi/fantasy/horror film vs. other types of movies?

Coleshill: There’s a lot of differences between the two. If you’re working on a studio sci-fi/fantasy film there’s much more money being spent and a lot less elbow room, people seem to really focus on a specific job and do it really well. On a smaller one you have the opportunity to wear more hats. Everything Must Go and Turkey Bowl were both amazing for the experience and people I met along the way. If you’re not exactly sure what you want to do in the industry and want to have a sample platter, go to film school or work on a smaller film. There’s more space to ask questions and really learn the craft. While in school I really tried to do as many internships as I could fit into my schedule. These were really beneficial when I went out and started working because I knew firsthand how things worked.

Yanes: The X-Men franchise is loved by millions and goes back to 1963. What is it like to now be part of its legacy?

Coleshill: It’s awesome! I’m truly honored to have been involved in some minuscule microscopic way to a series that means so much too so many people!

Yanes: I am well aware that almost everyone working on a movie has to sign a confidentiality agreement. With that said, what can you share in regards to what you contributed to X-Men: First Class?

Coleshill: As part of a Visual FX team I helped ensure that our ship stayed afloat if that meant prepping reviews, film scans, marketing or acting as a liaison between Editorial and our VFX/Post Houses. My favorite days were I got to dress up and hang out on set though!

Yanes: Everyone has their favorite character from the X-Men. Who’s the one character you want to bring to the big screen?

Coleshill: I think Cable would be really interesting to see. I’d also love to see a more fleshed out version of Gambit in the future.

Yanes: Your career is just starting out. What are some of steps you’re hoping to take in your career? Specifically, are there any projects you will be working on that you think sci-fi/fantasy fans should look out for?

Coleshill: After coming off of two consecutive Fox movies I’m hoping to just keep moving forward and stay employed! The true goal is to work consistently on mid budget horror movies but we’ll see where this road takes me, as long as it takes me somewhere I’ll be happy. I’m just grateful I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had so far from AFI to X-Men with so many wonderful people and I look forward to working with more of my childhood idols. Look out for Prometheus, that’s the movie I personally can’t wait to see! Thank you so much for the support and taking the time Nicholas!

You can learn more about Matthew Coleshill by visiting his homepage here.

Remember to follow me on twitter @yanes627

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