You may have seen his films featured for the Dallas Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. This week, I sit and talk with Quin Mathews, producer, filmmaker and journalist about his venture with “Art • a Personal Journey with Quin Mathews” and his long career.
“Art • A Personal Journey with Quin Mathews” takes us to Cuba, Mexico, Dallas, and a multitude of other areas to find stories of artists, the meaning behind their art and their culture. Mathews weaves together excerpts and outtakes from his work over the years, giving a personal spin that only decades of immersion in the arts can bring.
On his start in television and media…
I went to the University of Texas and I was not an enthusiastic student, by any means. I was very lonely when I went to school. Before I enrolled as a student, I went to the Daily Texan’s office and offered to work. I was put to work by the editor, who became the managing editor of Businessweek and my news editor, who I worked with and wrote stories with, she became the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. I was with very talented, ambitious people. That was much more important to me than school was. I loved the excitement of finding things out — I loved to find things out. I loved to go places, I loved to write [about] them, and that filled the bill.
On starting his own company…
I eventually ended up in Dallas and spent the longest time at two stations — Channel 4 KDFW, which was CBS then, and WFAA was the last station. My time in the business sort of ran out and that was the end for me. I was very interested in having control over my life, which you don’t have when you’re working for someone else in the news business. I wanted that control, so I started my own business as a self defense mechanism.
I enjoy the idea of making something that feels real and is real and conveys the truth to people. Even when I’m being paid by someone to do that, they want someone who can create that sense of realness. Most of my projects are now in the nonprofit area — education, art, cultural area, also health — and I’ve been drawn to art for a long time.
On the process of putting together the documentary…
In Cuba, I just looked for artists. We went to the oldest gallery in Havana, and I talked to the director there, not artists. Carlyn Ray, the glass artist, she asked me to do a video for her that show would pay for, and I said “No, I’m not gonna charge you for it, this is interesting.” I did a video for her that I recut for this purpose.
Most of [the pieces] were recut, not outtakes, and they were recut specifically for the show. I have a library of tape — I have thousands of tapes — and I have lists of projects in my computer. I just went through and thought of what would work well together.
There were things that I didn’t include because they didn’t fit. It’s like [composing] music, you know. To me the principle is not what you cut out, but what absolutely needs to be in there.
On his view of television and film…
I hate it when people say something like “television comes into your living room.” We know that it may come more into your palm or your lap or something now rather than your living room these days, but television doesn’t come anywhere. Television and film takes you from where you’re sitting into another place. It’s a hole that takes you into Michoacan, Mexico or Carlyn Ray’s glass studio. I always try to keep in mind that I’m not intruding into someone’s life, they’re pulling themselves into the life on the other side of the camera.
On the highlights from his career…
I don’t know. The high point is the next thing around the corner. There are pressures and there are difficulties; one has to make payroll, pay bills, and manage time so that you can get work done so that they quality is high, but I actually enjoy that too. What I say as an independent is that the worst day I’ve had as independent is the best day I’ve had as an employee.
Thoughts on being featured on Frame of Mind…
I was flattered! I was excited because it was exposure to people and work that I wanted to have exposure to, not so much for me, but for [the artists]. I wanted to open up the world to people. The world has opened up to me, and to be able to share that is a wonderful thing.
- Join Art&Seek and the Video Association of Dallas at 9 p.m. Thursday for a watching party for Frame of Mind at Texas Theatre.
- Tune into KERA TV on Thursday at 11 p.m. to catch this week’s episode!