With the MSA Festival quickly approaching, Intertainment caught up with final year filmmaking student Matthew Richardson, who has become a key figure in the Manchester School of Art production company. Matthew’s animation film Molly and Lexi’s Multiverse Odyssey will premiere on June 7th at HOME, in what looks set to be a busy evening packed with exciting and engaging filmmaking talent.
Tell us about the MSA Festival. Who are the key people involved in the productions?
MSA Productions was the brainchild of two people: Christiane Hitzemann, who is a tutor at Manchester Met and a prominent producer from the German filmmaking scene, and Loran Dunn, who is a Manchester Met filmmaking graduate who has formed her own production company, Delavel film. The MSA Festival is a way for third years to get their grad films started off; it’s a way to give us the festival experience that many might not yet have. The whole idea is that, rather than just having a degree show, you’re having your film screened, and you’re also being involved with setting up an actual film festival. It gives us industry practice and other students can learn from this experience.
You’re one of the key members of the festival team; how would you describe your role?
Aside from my own film, I’m involved in public relations with Aynoa Alvarez. Aynoa is also a filmmaker on the course, and her film Drifting Away will premiere at the festival. It’s a period drama set after the Second World War, and from what I’ve seen of the early rushes, the cinematography is brilliant. Aynoa’s film is a nice story about distant relationships during a very difficult period of history.
MSA feels like it has a collaborative ethos, as there are established relationships between industry professionals and students. How important is this?
It’s extremely important, not only to gain knowledge from experienced professionals. I feel like I’ve benefited from it in the way I work with others, and the student producers definitely have, in what they’ve learnt about key time management skills.
Collaborating with HOME is a great opportunity as they’re an organisation that wants to embrace new professionals and new creatives. When did you decide that was the best place for the festival?
From January, one of our goals was to showcase these films at HOME. It’s an important venue for, not only local cinema, but art as well. It kind of goes without saying, but it’s a perfect place to jump-start many people’s careers.
What kind of films can audiences expect to see on the 7th June?
There’s more of a variety of different genres than I first anticipated. There’s lots of comedies and dramas, but there’s over 20 films on show across the day. Films like Time for Tea and my own animation project are going down the more absurdist route, which will entice audiences. Everyone has tried to keep their work original and to make themselves stand out.
Are the films being screened shorts?
It’s all shorts. We’ve aimed for the 10-15-minute mark with our projects. Because mine is an animation, it has all had to be timed perfectly, so that was important.
Can we expect any special guests at the festival?
I’m a little out of the loop on that. I am aware however, that the former Lord Mayor of Manchester Carl Austin-Behan will be coming to visit, as one of the projects is a documentary on him.
Other than your own film, what other screenings would you recommend for audiences?
The first one that comes to mind is I am Flesh. It’s a psychological science-fiction thriller. I don’t want to give away any spoilers for this one because I want people to truly experience it for themselves. I’d also recommend Drifting Away for those who enjoy period dramas, and Time for Tea for surrealists; it’s very Lynchian from what I’ve seen. Also, definitely Firehouse, which is a topical documentary film that feels very much in the right place at the right time. It’s the kind of film that’s provocative, and it will get people talking.
What is it that makes Molly and Lexi’s Multiverse Odyssey stand out, and what is it about?
It’s the first animation at the festival, but it has been fun to make. The plot is fairly straightforward, but without spoiling things, I’ve basically used ‘chaos’ as a storytelling device to get things from beginning to end.
The film boasts a particularly strong art style and there’s no actual dialogue except sounds from a cat and a dog; what was your inspiration?
It was the idea of doing a subtitled film without actual human language, which gives it a comedy aspect in some sense. I’m interested in comedy, so I’ve tried to make this as funny as I can through the story I’m using. I also like a lot of stuff like cartoon network shorts, which are sometimes really experimental. Also, people who know their Greek mythology will understand the title.
With Molly and Lexi’s in its final stages of post-production, what projects are you planning on working on next?
My next project is Duvet Monster, which is another animation, and I want this one to have a Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes aesthetic. I plan on working on this immediately after the festival, as I tend to go stir-crazy if I have a day off, so I want to get straight into this.
Will you be trying to make Molly and Lexi’s Multiverse Odyssey available at any other film festivals?
Definitely, I’m going to try and submit this to the Manchester animation festival, which will also be taking place at HOME later in November. Molly and Lexi’s has been a really great stepping stone, but I’m really going to try and push out Duvet Monster when it’s finished.
For anyone on the fence about coming to this year’s MSA film festival, what message would you want to give them?
For me personally, it’s very much a DIY thing. I want people to know that even though the filmmakers have had industry professionals such as Christiane and Loran to help provide us with this experience, these films are very personal to us.
How do you see the festival evolving in the future?
This is something MSA productions wants to run annually. We want future students to continue this, and for it to evolve as something bigger, and better, each year.
The next final year filmmaking students can see this as an example of what hard work can achieve. You must be really proud knowing that your films will be screened at somewhere like HOME.
Definitely. I’ve had my work screened before and it is a fantastic feeling. You really feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Finally, you’ve worked closely with Intertainment in the past as a writer. Has your experience in writing and film criticism had an effect on the way you work as a filmmaker?
I did some work with Intertainment on the Manchester International Film Festival, and I’ve also done some reviews on Japanese anime. When I was younger, I actually wanted to go into writing. I was really into Brian Jacques Redwall series, and I’ve always had a decent writing foundation, but I often find that I work better visually. The work with Intertainment has given me another outset, something that allows me to develop my creative style. In terms of film criticism, MSA Festival gives me a chance to see what audiences liked and disliked about the film, as being able to handle criticism is something I can keep in mind for my next project.
For more information on MSA productions and the festival, please visit
and to follow Matthew’s career you can find his Facebook page here