Hollywood charms Ottawa film producer
Trevor Matthews keeps focus on job opportunities
Trevor Matthews has gone Hollywood but insists his heart is still in Ottawa.
The 29-year-old son of high-tech magnate Terry Matthews set up a film production office in exclusive Beverly Hills last year, hoping to be at the centre where big Hollywood deals are brokered.
His company, Brookstreet Pictures, still maintains an office here, but the move to California was necessary, he said, after years of producing short films and low-budget features from their Kanata location.
“You have to be here, all of the entertainment companies are here,” said Matthews from his Beverly Hills office.
“In the last year I’ve been working here we’ve had more progress, more growth and we’ve been busier. And I think being busier and working hard is a sign that you’re making more progress. I still consider it (Brookstreet) a Canadian company and my plan is to grow the business as a Canadian company.
“I love Ottawa, it’s my home and all my friends are there. It’s been a matter of making new friends and contacts here,” he said.
If timing is important in producing films in Hollywood, then Matthews appears to have hit the jackpot.
His company, along with Twilight saga star Peter Facinelli, is producing an adaptation of Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob from a book by Edward MacKen- zie and Phyllis Karas. Bulger is the real-life character depicted by Jack Nicholson in the Martin Scorsese film The Departed.
In a fortuitous turn of events, Bulger — who had been on the FBI’s Most Wanted List since 1994 — was apprehended last month in Santa Monica. The fugitive mobster was returned to Boston where he is in prison awaiting trial on 19 counts, including murder, extortion and money laundering.
Matthews said production on the film is well underway and they’re looking at hiring a name director. The film’s budget is expected to be in the $15 million range, but that could change depending on who is “attached” to the project, he said. Partial funding would come through Brookstreet Pictures, and the rest would come from other producers and investors, he said.
Casting on the film is premature, although Matthews said he’d be thrilled if big-name actors Leonardo DiCaprio or Mark Wahlberg expressed interest in playing Mackenzie. For the Bulger character, he sees Daniel Day-Lewis or Gary Oldman in the role. Filming could begin next year if all pieces of the filmmaking puzzle fall into place, he said.
“This is a great vehicle for us to shop around town and build relationships hopefully at the studio level. Prior to this I’ve been making my own independent films (back in Ottawa).
“It was great that Whitey got caught and we already had a great script when that happened. In a weird coincidence, Nick Gordon, the writer of the script, was living in Santa Monica and Bulger was caught less than a block away from where he lives,” he said.
The film will be told from the perspective of Eddie MacKenzie, a kickboxing champion, drug dealer and enforcer for Bulger.
Matthews studied anthropology at Carleton University, and attended the New York Film Academy where he graduated in 2002. With friends Jon Knautz and Patrick White they formed Brookstreet Pictures, which was based in Kanata. The company made several short films and features, including Teen Massacre, Still Life, The Other Celia, Moment of Truth, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and The Shrine.
Matthews had a starring role in Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, a lowbudget horror film shot in 2007 in Ottawa that also featured Robert Englund from the Nightmare on Elm Street films.
Matthews says he’s in regular communication with his father in Ottawa about his film deals.
“My dad is very supportive of what I’m doing. He loves the team that I’ve put together down here and he wants to see this company grow. We do some cross-business, my dad comes down here and I set him up with meetings that could help in the telecom field, I also introduce him to people in the film business. Los Angeles is a big city, there’s a lot going on here.”
He said life in Hollywood has been good, the weather is perfect but he doesn’t care much for the traffic gridlock on the freeways. So far, he says, he hasn’t indulged in the Hollywood scene, preferring to stay focused on making the company a success.
“I’m a Canadian boy through and through. By nature I’m a hick, I love fishing, hunting and the country. I’m not into the party scene and film premieres,” said Matthews who lives in West Hollywood with his longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Meadows, an account manager at Wesley Clover, a networking and telecommunications firm.
Neil Bregman, president of the Ottawa film company Sound Venture, met Matthews in 2005 when Matthews was making a short film and offered advice to the budding producer. He said he was impressed by Matthews’ determination to build a career as both an actor and film producer.
“Trevor is incredibly charismatic, he’s very driven and he has lofty and aggressive goals,” said Bregman, adding it made sense for Matthews to eventually move to Hollywood.
“Ottawa is nice but it’s not exactly the centre of anything in the film or television world. If you have the resources and the backing to make a play, Los Angeles is the place to be.”
Trevor Matthews, son of Ottawa hi-tech magnate Terry Matthews, is now based in Beverly Hills, where his film production company Brookstreet Pictures, is producing a number of feature films.