POV: Director, Matthew Celia

POV: Director

How would you describe what you do?
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.
How did you get into this job?
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.
What is most challenging about what you do?
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.
What is most rewarding?
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.
What’s a typical work week like?
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 needs to happen the most in order for a shoot to run smoothly?
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.
Whats your best job/worst job?
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 advice would you offer someone considering a career as a Director?
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.
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.