We had the good fortune of connecting with Matthew & Andrew Reyna and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Matthew & Andrew, how do you think about risk?
As filmmakers, we have made many risks and choices that have led to great opportunities, some that really didn’t go anywhere, and some, we regret.
But when we came up with the idea to create our own documentary series, The Bizarre, we really just jumped in head-first.
Making a documentary series definitely carries plenty of risks, especially when it’s a crew of just two people (my brother and I). The two of us are responsible for every aspect of the series: the writing, the staging, the filming, the editing, etc. Not to mention, the funding. But we also carry the risk of the subject matters we cover. The Bizarre is very different from any other docu-series out there. It’s dark, strange, occasionally disturbing, and even funny at times. But, most importantly, it’s a series based on topics that interest us, both as filmmakers and as viewers.
We’ve always wanted to cover topics that, while news worthy, have never been featured in a cinematic way. We did that with our first two episodes: The Tickle Me-Elmo Craze of 1996 and The Max Headroom Hijacking Incident.
Of course, we still have the questions every filmmaker encounters, like: “Will people respond to this episode?” and “Will they even be interested in this subject matter?”
Early on, there was definitely some concern on making 20+ minute videos for a platform like Youtube, which, has historically specialized in short-form or fast-paced
content. But, much to our surprise, our feature-length documentary on The Max Headroom Incident has been very well received with over 32,000 views.
We believe the pay-off always outweighs the risks. Looking back, we’d rather say, “Hey, that didn’t work out, but at least it was fun to create!” as opposed to “I wish we’d just taken the risk and done it…”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We’ve been filmmakers for over 10 years now. We started our internships at the ages of 14 and 16, and since then, have created content in almost every type of genre you can think of.
Regardless of the genre, we’ve always strived to create films and videos that make us feel something. Whether it’s joy, nostalgia, melancholy, excitement, love, etc. We aim to create a piece that captures a solid look and emotion that viscerally resonates within ourselves. The audience’s reaction is almost a bonus for us.
What sets us apart as filmmakers is that our ideas come from so many different and completely random places. Inspiration can come from literally anywhere. We’ve made videos inspired by the dark drama of Baroque paintings to the bouncy and colorful TV commercials from the late 90’s and everything in between. We try not to follow current trends for our videos. Instead, we’d rather spin our wildest dreams into reality.
And we like to film everything ourselves. (Stock footage is always the very last resort for us.) And we love using older methods of filmmaking that are often considered out of date, like stop-motion, cloth filters, and vintage lenses. We even figured out how to create a digital version of the 3-Strip Technicolor process used in classic cinema.
We’ll admit it has been an uphill climb toward our goals, but with the help of Jesus, our family and friends, we have endured. There are also many opportunities that have come across our path just by being in the right place at the right time. But, we don’t believe in coincidences, we know it’s meant to be.
We’ve also learned that no amount of money or fame is worth your integrity and beliefs. It’s important to know your value and never undersell your talents. If someone isn’t willing to pay you what you’re worth, then don’t lower your standards. Instead, level up the quality of the clients you work with.
That being said, you should also be self-aware. Unless you’re Muhammed Ali, don’t think you’re “the greatest of all time”. It’s important to know your strengths, but it’s just as important to know your weak points, and to work on them until they’re no longer weak points.
We’re always trying to learn new skills and techniques as filmmakers. And we’re always reviewing our past projects to see where we can improve. But we do this in a healthy way. We never bash or hate on ourselves, we just study to see how we can do better.
Growing up, our mom would tell us the plots of movies that we were too young to watch. (She would clean them up, of course, we were still kids, after all.) She had us enthralled with the plots of The Sixth Sense, Chocolat, Death Becomes Her, Little Miss Sunshine, Scream, etc. Since she presented the films to us as stories, the importance of the storyline stuck with us.
A film should be a story first, and then the visuals should be manipulated in a way that conveys that story in the best way possible. And that’s what we want our work to be, a story unlike anything you’ve ever heard, with visuals unlike anything you’ve ever seen. We want people to first know the story that we are trying to convey, and hope that it resonates with them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Having lived in Fort Worth our whole lives, we’ve found all kinds of great spots in our hometown, and continue to discover more as time goes by.
If we were hosting a friend for a week-long trip, we would, of course, stay at the Sinclair Hotel in downtown Fort Worth; it’s a landmark hotel that was recently remodeled in the art deco style. We would definitely make reservations at Texas de Brazil to dine on their incomparable steaks, but we’d also stop in at smaller, local eateries like M&O Burger, Lisa’s Chicken, Mexican Inn, and more.
For entertainment, we’d take a drive to the Hurst area where Retro Plaza is located. It’s a strip of retro shops, including Quarter Lounge, an 80’s style arcade; Horror Freak, a horror movie memorabilia lovers dream; Retro Madness, an old school video game/toy store; and our personal favorite: Vintage Freak, a shop offering vintage clothing, vinyl records, furniture, decor, and memorabilia from the past six decades.
Retro Plaza is a must-see for anyone visiting the metroplex.
Being filmmakers, we’d take them to our favorite filming spots, like Inspiration Alley near Montgomery Plaza, an entire alley that has ever-changing colorful murals by local artists. Then we’d head up to Magnolia and Near Southside to see all the cool, hidden spots that make for great fashion shoots. Crude Coffee Shop and Black Cat Pizza are two of our favorite restaurants in that area.
We’d finish our days by catching one (or several) movies at The Grand Berry Theater near West 7th. It’s an intimate theater run by Jimmy Sweeney, a friendly film buff. His single-screen theater features independent and local-made films and documentaries. The place is clean, the employees are the kindest, the seats are comfy, and they serve the best popcorn in town.
Finally, we’d end the week by visiting The Scat Jazz Lounge, a classy joint tucked away in a downtown alleyway, where live bands play both jazz standards and new classics. It’s a great place to just kick back and let yourself feel the music. We’d take a late night stroll around Sundance Square in the heart of Fort Worth. It’s the perfect place to sit and chat, take photos, and reflect on old times.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are quite a few people that have contributed to our success as filmmakers so far, but we’ll keep it brief. Our mom really cultivated a creative and artistic spirit in us from an early age, and always believed that we had something to show the world at a time when our interests in films and filmmaking were just barely developing.
She always knew we’d grow up to be filmmakers, even when we were just two poor little kids making stop-motion movies with a janky video camera and a few action figures. She said one day our videos would be seen all over the world, without us ever having to leave Fort Worth. (This was back in 2001, before YouTube even existed, so she really was just speaking it into existence.) Her faith in us gave us faith in ourselves.
Our father contributed to our goals financially. He purchased our first professional video camera, a monstrous shoulder-mounted camera, that we used to make our first short film. He also drove us back and forth between video shoots before we had our licenses.
Our grandmother Christine continues to purchase equipment and gear for us. Every month a new box from Amazon shows up on our porch with a new toy inside.
Another person to thank would be our former youth pastor, Landon Pickering, who asked us to make videos for our local church’s youth program back when we were a couple of shy and awkward students.
That volunteer experience led us to our first paid job working for the church’s video team. And that opportunity allowed us to work side-by-side with some very talented videographers who really helped us up our game in video production.
There are tons of others, but it would take pages and pages to list them all. But, mainly, we’d like to give all our thanks to God, for without, we would have nothing and be nothing.
Photos & Stills by The Reyna Bros.