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Lone Star Film Festival leader talks love of film

🕐 6 min read

Lone Star Film Festival

No. 7-11

If you think Chad Mathews is tired of watching films – and he’s seen over 6,500 of them – think again.

Mathews simply cannot get enough of movies, and he’s counting on that being the case with others as well.

Mathews, 43, was named the executive director of the Lone Star Film Society (LSFS) three years ago. Since then, he has taken the Lone Star Film Festival (LSFF) to new heights. This includes such things as reiminaging the LSFF’s potential for film camps for youth in the community, increasing revenue through new partnerships, and now announcing a Latin-focused initiative for the upcoming festival.

Mathews appointed LSFS/LSFF Administrative Assistant Gabriel Gutierrez as the lead programmer of Cine-Mas. The Latino-focused film series will showcase 10 full-length features at the upcoming film festival Nov. 7-11 at Sundance Square.

At last year’s festival, the movie Ascension by Texas filmmaker Rusty Leaver was the largest attended screening. Mathews and Gutiérrez hope expanding festival programming will give all audiences the chance to explore films they might not see otherwise.

“At the end of the day, our goal is for festival-goers to walk away with a new newfound appreciation for filmmakers, their art and their struggle,” Mathews said. “If we can get more people to support indie filmmaking because they gained an appreciation at our festival, then we’re doing our job.”

Mathews has produced a dozen film festivals, three in Fort Worth and nine in Fredericksburg. In that time, he has met many people and has numerous stories.

He tells the story of Brenden Hubbard, a Philadelphia-based producer who met filmmaking team Melissa Jackson and Nikhil Melnechuk in Fort Worth. The trio struck a friendship and will screen their new film FEVAH at this year’s LSFF.

Another one of his favorite stories is when a LSFF volunteer met Producer Christian Sosa at a Lone Star Film Festival panel discussion and landed a summer internship-turned-full-time job working for Sosa’s production company.

Mathews graduated from TCU with a bachelor of science degree in film and TV. After starting his career in Los Angeles as an actor, he extended his career into production work, screenwriting, film festival management, and film education.

As a writer-director, he has produced several short films and written a number of feature-length scripts.

His short films have screened at over 35 film festivals throughout North America, and have won numerous awards.

He is also the founder of the Hill Country in Fredericksburg.

The LSFF was originally founded in 1997 as the Fort Worth Film Festival. In 2007 it became known as the Lone Star Film Festival, and this is the 12th year it has been held in Sundance Square.

FWBP: What drew you to loving films? Do you remember that first special experience?

CM: I certainly remember going to movies with my dad at a young age. Pete’s Dragon and Star Wars stands out in my mind. It wasn’t until college that I felt the impact of movies and how I wanted to be a part of them. Once that was recognized, I remember watching a lot of films at the old AMC in Sundance Square on Houston Street. Watching films like Pulp Fiction and Se7en were exciting. Films like that drew me to the industry.

FWBP: Why is Hud your favorite movie?

CM: There is something nostalgic about Hud that reminds me of Texas when I was growing up. It was a simpler time, and yet the people were tougher. The state was undoubtedly more agricultural and slower-paced. Just like the film, I remember checking on cattle with my grandfather. It’s just so very Texas, and the film reminds me of that time and place.

FWBP: Do you come from a film family/background?

CM: No. My love for film was discovered on my own. My parents have always been supportive and did encourage me to pursue my dreams, even when I’m sure they weren’t thrilled with the idea that I was choosing film as a major in college.

FWBP: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a festival producer?

CM: Starting the Hill Country Film Festival is definitely the biggest accomplishment in my career because it grew out of nothing. To take an idea over coffee in LA, to the festival celebrating its 10th year feels really good.

With the Lone Star Film Society, I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to elevate the film education programs. Our film camps do have an impact on the kids we are working with. Seeing the kids put in the hard work and sharing ideas and stories validates what we do as educators.

FWBP: Why was important to implement the Latino-based film series?

CM: Cine-Más was created to encourage Fort Worth’s Latino community to join in the celebration of film. It’s a welcoming that we hope translates into a crossover appeal for the festival. With the ever-growing Hispanic population, we wanted to make sure that the content of Lone Star Film Festival truly reflects our diverse community.

FWBP: Have you ever considered directing a feature-length film?

CM: Not yet. I still need to direct a few more shorts before I feel really comfortable in that chair. It would also have to be a script that I was very comfortable with and committed to. At this point in my career, my strength is as a producer and supporting someone else’s creative vision.

FWBP: Do you still ever act?

CM: The only acting I do now is when I write myself into a role. My workload doesn’t allow me much time to pursue auditioning, so I can’t say I’ll return to it anytime soon. For me, the most notable and memorable moments as an actor were working on two short films where I was able to accomplish multiple tasks as writer/actor/producer/director. When you take on that extra responsibility, it is so rewarding when you actually are able to pull it off.

FWBP: Are you still connected with the Hill Country Film Festival?

CM: Yes. I work closely with my sister Amy Miskovsky who runs the operation as the festival director. I’m involved in film programming and film education for the organization. It will always be a passion project of mine.

FWBP: How has film changed over the years as you’ve grown up?

CM: Film has changed immensely since I graduated from school. The digital revolution has leveled the playing field. It’s hard to remember the time when access to equipment was incredibly expensive. You shot your short films on actual film, and there was no internet for fundraising, marketing, distribution, reels or trailers. I can’t believe I’m going to date myself, but we used to mail our black and white headshots to casting directors, and your agent would page you if he or she needed to speak with you. I don’t miss those days.

FWBP: What is the future of film as it faces the ever-growing challenges from Netflix, Amazon, and more?

CM: Who really knows? It’s the wild west in terms of where film and TV are going. The morphing of the media into this hybrid thing is fun to watch.

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