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Transforming adversity into art: a spotlight on Matty Brown

Jeff Hurlow
August 12, 2015 by Jeff Hurlow Alum

The Samsung Connected Series asked 10 filmmakers to explore the topic of connection and each one told his or her story in vastly different ways — from a profile on a human cyborg all the way to an autobiographical video on the personal impact of technology and filmmaking.

From a vibrant and creative childhood to a torn family life and homelessness, Matty Brown opens up in A Colorful Life, and explores his own journey of overcoming incredible obstacles to rediscover filmmaking and human connection. We reached out to Matty to chat about his inspiration, the process of working with Vimeo and Samsung, and the conversation he hoped to spark with his video.

Vimeo: What was the inspiration behind your piece? How did the process work?

Matty: The idea of being “connected” resonates so deeply in my life. My creative passion that intensely thrashed about inside me like a tornado kept my head above the quicksand of my traumatic childhood, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from sinking deeper and deeper. Posting my videos online was like sending out beacons for hope, and slowly but surely, an army of colorful balloons came and I grabbed hold and they lifted me out of this downward spiral. These balloons soon went from just a few dozen to a few hundred thousand, and I went skyrocketing to the light.  

I had to venture down to my hometown and relive my childhood. It was difficult to be there, because it all came flooding back to me. It took a little while to collect all the old pictures and videotapes from various relatives, and then go home to do my interview surrounded by close friends so I would be more comfortable.

What kind of conversation did you want to spark with your piece?

I know there are so, so many children out there who are in the same situation I was in, and it makes me want to cry thinking about it. The fact that many of them have nobody to keep their spark alive, their curiosity and drive intact, made me want to create this piece in hopes that some of them will see it and find hope — to show people that no matter how hard it gets, you need to keep fighting for your dreams. Through all the exhausting and scary obstacles in life you can still come out of it.

As a content creator in 2015, how has the topic of connection affected your work?

With Instagram, Vimeo, Cameo, Twitter, and what seems like an endless amount of ways to socially connect, I’m finding it easier and easier to network with people, to collaborate, to share, and to exchange ideas that build something real. Right now I am planning this very ambitious short documentary that takes place in the Pacific Northwest, Morocco, and Asia, and normally it seems like such a daunting feat, but with how connected we are these days, it has been relatively easy finding the people and resources I need to begin building the blueprint of the production.

How is connection most important in your daily life?

There are many people around the world I have grown to bond with and love as my family and friends. I travel all the time now and never know where I will end up, so being able to stay connected with them is wonderful because I can always hang out with my friends wherever I am.

What’s your favorite way to disconnect?

Watching “Judge Judy.” Haha, nooooo. ;) I usually fill up a big bubble bath and lie in the tub with some amazingly emotionally stunning films scores blaring in my ears as I get lost in my daydreams. I also find the feeling of being on a train coasting across the world and watching it like a moving or a painting to be very therapeutic, and it helps me nestle up in my head and dream up new ideas.

What was it like to work with Vimeo on a project like this?

Vimeo has been one of the most encouraging groups of people in my life, always pushing me to keep creating and experimenting. To have teamed up with them on this Samsung Connected Series was such a dream, really. I think the Vimeo Staff and the Vimeo community gets us, and knowing how supportive they are, I knew working with them would be creative heaven. I had a few ideas, like a sequence of me reenacting smashing cars together when I was a child for my home movie of a staged earthquake scene, and they helped push that creative idea to hold the integrity of the piece and my vision intact. They want the artist to basically be set free to let that vision flow right out into reality. And they are just a lot of fun to work with. Doesn’t really feel like client/director relationship, but more a group of peers getting passionate and creative together.  

Would you do it again?

In a heartbeat. Vimeo is like that one friend who asks you to go for coffee and no matter how busy you are you drop everything immediately and running out the door. Nothing like working with a group of people and a company that genuinely loves what they do and the artists they take so much pride in. Such a great feeling to know you are believed in and pushed to think outside the box!

Thanks, Matty!

The Samsung Connected Series is a set of 10 original stories that examine the human relationship with technology. All of the films can be seen on the Connected Series Tumblr Hub, and on each filmmaker’s Vimeo profile pages.


Matty Brown PRO

Jeff thank you so much for the wonderful words, man! And thank you for all the encouragement!

Jeff Hurlow Alum

Hey Matty. It's been a real honor and privilege to work with you on these projects. Can't wait to see what's next!

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