Interview: Matt Cohen Talks ‘Mama Bear’ at Olympus Film Festival [EXCLUSIVE]

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Matt and Mandy - Courtesy of staff photographer Kamila

On Wednesday night in North Hollywood, California, Nerds and Beyond had the pleasure of attending a special screening of Mama Bear (along with several other short films) at the first ever Olympus Film Festival. Director Matt Cohen, writer Lee Ehlers, titular star Mandy Musgrave and many of the film’s other stars were in attendance. The screening was packed and lively, and even included a special audience Q&A. At the end of the evening the Festival’s producers handed out awards – and Mama Bear was given the first ever “Zeus Award” for its action packed depiction of bravery and overcoming the odds!

Matt and Mandy – Courtesy of staff photographer Kamila

We were able to ask Matt a few questions about Mama Bear, the audience reaction, the award, the future of Mama Bear and more. You can see our interview with David Haydn-Jones, Adam Fergus and Jeffrey Vincent Parise from the festival here.

Nerds and Beyond: We know you’ve talked about wanting Mama Bear to turn into a full-length film or series. Is that something you still want to do? Are there any updates as to whether you think that will happen?

Matt Cohen: I absolutely still want to make Mama Bear into either a film or a 6-to-8 part series. We have a three-film package or a three-season package already prepared for Mama Bear and it is very interesting and entertaining. As far as updates go as to if we will actually get to make Mama Bear, we are in several different interesting meetings with potential producers. That being said, we may make another project before we make a Mama Bear, but we also may make a Mama Bear first. There is a lot up in the air right now as far as me directing goes. There are lots of opportunities and possibilities and Lee [Ehlers] and I just want to make sure we make the most entertaining movie or TV that we would actually want to watch.

Nerds and Beyond: Now that it’s screened at multiple festivals, have any of your favorite moments or scenes changed?

Matt: I don’t have a single favorite moment from that film. Finally watching it on a proper projector, and a proper theater, and with proper sound was extraordinary. Every moment of that film is my favorite moment, every moment that I think about the extra shots I wish I had for each scene, I just love the final product more. We made a film with no time and minimal setups and money and it tells a fun little story and I am so proud of Lee and the crew for making it real with me.

Nerds and Beyond: How has the audience reaction been and how has it been watching something you’ve put a lot of work into? Are you generally nervous before a festival screening of it? excited?

Matt: The audience response has been pretty great so far. Most people believe Mandy [Musgrave] to be an actual bad-ass. I love to see a female kicking ass and what was traditionally a leading male-type role. I myself find the concept of women in action much more interesting than men in action because we’ve seen it for so many years. I get a little bit nervous before the screening, but most of it is actual excitement just to see my work and watch other people watch my work. For anybody to take the time and sit down and watch my film is a great honor and I will always appreciate it.

Matt and Mandy – Courtesy of staff photographer Kamila

Nerds and Beyond: How did it feel to with the ‘Zeus’ award from Olympus Film Festival?

Matt: Winning the Zeus Award was pretty damn cool. I’ve never seen a trophy so amazing! That also being said, I am not in this for the trophies. It feels nice to have a little bit of recognition for the hard work that you do, but it’s never good enough for me. I could’ve made Mama Bear 100 times better given the proper budget and time. The Olympus Film Festival was so kind to screen our film on a proper DCP projector and I’m super grateful to them. I hope to be part of their festivals in the future and help them in anyway shape or form. I send my gratitude out to Derek Quick of the Olympus Film Festival. He’s a good guy.

Nerds and Beyond: Is directing still something you want to pursue further?

Matt: Yes, I will be pursuing directing and acting with an equal amount of effort. A great man once told me, “Walk through the doors that open in front of you, once you get in there you can decide if you want to stay or not.” So for now I am looking at the opportunities that come my way and they have been very interesting so far. I want to make original content and I want to make original content that I want to watch myself. I may be directing and I may be acting and most likely I’ll be acting and directing in the same projects, but my goal remains the same, to make fun and interesting media!

Matt – Courtesy of staff photographer Kamila

Nerds and Beyond: What are you most proud of about ‘Mama Bear’?

Matt: I think I’m most proud of my cast and crew who accomplished the impossible. We made a movie that should’ve cost $200,000 and taken 6 to 8 days, and we made it in 3 1/2 days for about $50,000. There was endless effort and creativity behind the camera and extreme excellence and professionalism in front of the camera. My cast and crew showed up to work and they carried out their jobs better than I could’ve ever expected. Every complement and every award we receive for Mama Bear, is because of all of the hard-working men and women that came together and rose above all chaos to make this wonderful little film portraying a mother’s undeniable love for her son.

Stay tuned for more coverage on Mama Bear, including an interview with writer Lee Ehlers, Mandy Musgrave, and Osric Chau!


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By Britt
Britt is a Los Angeles based writer, burlesque performer, and life long nerd. A former drama kid turned playwright and classic ambivert, (shout out fellow ambiverts! There are dozens of us! Dozens!) her love of books, snacks, and cats makes her a Ravenclaw with Hufflepuff leanings. She is a voracious reader, writer, and unapologetic binge-watcher. Her lifelong obsessions include Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Arrested Development, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Herbert's Dune series. Her current obsessions include: Sherlock, Black Mirror, The Great British Baking Show, RuPaul's Drag Race, and Counterpart. She will also gladly talk people's ears off about graphic novels if they let her, which they usually don't. Find Britt on Twitter @MsGeorgiaOQueef
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