View Point: Director, Matthew Celia

"We're doing a lot of experimenting and I'll be the first to admit that we don't always get it right the first time."

View Point: Director

In a few words, can you tell us who you are and why you love working in production?
My name is Matthew Celia and I am the creative director at Light Sail VR. I love the craft of creating content and putting together the puzzle of how everything will fit together at the end. Production requires a team of amazing people coming together under a united vision, and I find that energy to be extremely powerful.
Did you have a dream job as a child, and if so, what was it?
I think I've wanted to be a film director since I was 3 years old. My dad has home movies of me demanding to look through the viewfinder. This has always been my passion.
If there was one aspect of the industry that you would change, what would it be?
I hate the devaluation of our industry and it's only getting worse. On the production side, it seems everybody wants you to do a spec or a proof of concept for free. On the consumer side, nobody wants to pay for content. It's a real problem and it's becoming harder and harder to make a sustainable living as an artist.
If you had one project that you could post on AdForum to represent your work, what would it be?
Our latest project at Light Sail VR is called "Speak of the Devil" and it is a live action interactive horror narrative with over 50 locations and 13 endings. It's something new we're trying called a "mesh" narrative and it's really exciting. I think cinematic VR should be interactive to a degree and we're having a lot of fun pioneering new ways to tell compelling stories in this space. It also represents how a team of really talented people can come together to push this medium forward.
Did you have a mentor at one point in your life and how did that person help guide you?
I've had a lot of influential people in my life, but I think that Preston Lee and Phyllis Koenig who used to run a commercial production company called Uber Content had the most profound impact on me. Preston used to tell me to focus on making content that "doesn't suck". Phyllis gave me a ton of insight into the ad business and I became close with her husband Reuben who is a documentary filmmaker. I think about the three of them quite often and their advice still rings in my ears whenever I am making a tough decision.
Do you have a hobby or activity that serves as an outlet to keep you creative and lets you step away from your job?
Lately, VR has been occupying way too much of my time and I'm trying to work on that whole work/life balance thing. But when I do get a moment, I really enjoy grilling and wine tasting. I think experiencing the world is what drives my creativity to tell different stories.
What aspect of your job gives you the most pleasure?
I really love showing people our work and listening to what they have to say. Of course I love it when they enjoy it, but I also love to know why they didn't. We're doing a lot of experimenting and I'll be the first to admit that we don't always get it right the first time.
What needs to happen the most in order for a production shoot to run smoothly?
Pre-production. A lot of it. Good communication between everybody involved and a clear creative vision helps tremendously. Your production is only as good as your team and that team needs a captain and first mate who understands every part of the pipeline, from creative to client expectations.
What would you say was the biggest challenge for production companies when working with a creative agency on a project?
I think the biggest challenge for production companies on VR projects is communicating that this medium is very very different from the 2D video they know so well. It has a different audience, it's technically complex, it requires a more cohesive strategy, etc. VR is not digital video. It's costly and isn't something you just "tack" on. To get the best benefit, you need an experienced production company and agencies need to listen to that production company's recommendations.
What direction do you see production going in as an industry?
Up and up. Entertainment is exploding and we're only going to see more content in the future. I think we'll start to see less content that's about "how many views can I get" and more content that delivers a really engaging "time spent" metric. People are bombarded, so they want quality content. I think VR content has the power to be that immersive medium and I see a lot more VR production happening in the coming months.
Matthew Celia
Creative Director Light Sail VR