Matt Myers Interview


Interview by Greg Carlson

Producer Matt Myers and writer-director Joe Maggio, along with many cast and crewmembers from “Supermoto” will attend the Fargo Film Festival for a special screening of the narrative feature. “Supermoto” will be shown on Saturday, March 19 at 3:15 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre.


Greg Carlson: Tell me a little bit about “Supermoto.”

Matt Myers: “Supermoto” is Joe Maggio’s sixth feature film. It’s about a young woman named Ruby who wakes up alone in a motel room on the edge of the North Dakota prairie. She realizes her abusive boyfriend has ditched her — the two of them were on the lam — and all he’s left behind is a toothbrush, some racing clothes and a motorcycle.

So she puts on his gear and sets out on the bike to find him, traveling from one small prairie town to the next. But instead of finding him she meets a whole host of misfit characters who, like her, are broken and desperate, and seeking their own inner hero, one way or another.

GBC: How did the movie end up getting made in North Dakota? Wasn’t it originally supposed to take place in the American Southwest?

MM: Yeah, originally the script was written for a desert landscape. And substantial preparations advanced around that idea for a while. The production was going to be based out of Las Vegas with a much bigger budget, bigger stars.

But, as is so often the case in this business, the movie’s financing repeatedly stalled, again and again. So, a year ago Joe and I started talking about recalibrating the entire movie so we could make it faster and cheaper somewhere else, but still find a suitable home for the script where the location itself could become a character in the story.

We looked at the surrounding farmland in Cass County, west and south of Fargo.  And we were both blown away by the dramatic look and feel of the land and the people. The prairie has its own unique brand of desolate yet captivating beauty.  A desert of a different kind.

And so we immediately embraced Cass County as an extremely attractive option: the endless horizons, the wind rustling through the spring wheat, the dramatic skies, the layers and textures of the small towns.


GBC: How would you describe writer-director Joe Maggio as a filmmaker and artist?

MM: Joe and I have known each other for over 20 years now. This is our fourth picture together and we always have fun making movies. To me, Joe is kind of like a boutique, micro-winery — small artisanal production, using grapes only from estate vineyards — excellent wine if you can get it but not available in every store.

He makes very modest, yet commercially viable arthouse features—slow burn, slice-of-life stories. He’s got a very no-nonsense, I would say, almost documentary style.  His films are known for their very naturalistic acting, and simple dramatic questions imposed upon complex characters.

That being said, “Supermoto” is a big departure for him. For both of us. It’s a risky enterprise because I think the picture strives to return to a more purely cinematic form of storytelling where visually arresting images move the narrative forward, and atmosphere and mood have completely usurped plot and dialogue.


GBC: You believed it was possible to make a high-quality motion picture in a place where professional feature filmmaking is rare. What did you learn about the regional temperament and skills of the locals involved with Supermoto?

MM: Frankly, I was stunned at the caliber of skill and talent here. Although we brought in the major department heads from New York and L.A., 95 percent of the cast and crew was made up of film, theatre and design students, as well as faculty and alumni, from Concordia, MSUM and NDSU.

There was a little bit of on-the-job training involved, but it didn’t take very long. Everyone brought their A-game and had the most rigorous and tireless work ethic.  David and Carrie Wintersteen did a tremendous job casting the picture. They worked extremely hard to find the most engaging and talented local actors for every part, even the background.

Amber Morgan and Mikey Johnson are incredible in the film. Christian Boy, Brittney Bublitz and their teams did a fantastic job designing the picture. All the folks we hired in Fargo-Moorhead approached a level of professionalism that was truly inspiring.

Our Hollywood SAG-AFTRA stunt coordinator, DGA production staff and director of photography were all extremely impressed with everyone. And since we wrapped last summer, a few of our local young crewmembers moved to L.A. and have been working steadily ever since.


GBC: What kinds of happy accidents took place during the production?

MM: Two things. First, when we were casting the role of the Cowgirl, it was originally written for a man. I imagined casting this role was going to be extremely difficult.  I had no idea where to even begin looking for this person.

We needed an actor who could ride a horse with extreme skill, and by sheer serendipity our wonderfully gracious and generous location owners in Wheatland, Bob and Francie Albaugh, just so happened to have a daughter, Sara Reiswig, who was a prize-winning rodeo star. I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

So Joe and I went to see Sara compete at a barrel race out in West Fargo and it didn’t take long to convince us to rewrite the character around Sara.  Joe totally rewrote the script with her in mind.

Second, during our initial scouting trip back in March last year, Joe discovered he had ties to the area that date all the way back to 1982. When he was 15, Joe rowed in Buffalo, New York for the West Side Rowing Club. One morning, he was rowing with the team when a Viking ship appeared out of a thick fog.

Joe thought he was dreaming. Turns out it was the Hjemkomst!  They needed rowers to get them to the barge canal system to take them to the Atlantic, so Joe and the team agreed to do it. He had no idea that 33 years later the ship would be on display right here in Moorhead. He’s even in the documentary they show there. You can see him rowing. That’s when I knew for sure “Supermoto” was meant to be filmed here.

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