Blame it on digital, on filters, on the throwaway nature of today’s image-making machines. Most things, it seems, feel the same, neutered of uniqueness or, even, the desire to be unique at all. But not Matthew Dillon Cohen. The New York City-based director eschews the modern demands for a polished flatness and instead creates photographs and music videos bursting with a raw, filmic quality to them. In his frames, there is room for quirk, beauty, depravity, realness.
Whatever the medium, Cohen manages to straddle the line between old and new. From lush saturation choices to title card typeface, he conjures up recollections of vintage films while pushing the medium distinctly forward via his artistic style. Cohen has a knack for moving fluidly between macro and micro in his shots, creating dreamy, immersive new landscapes. He captures something different. It’s no wonder, then, that Cohen’s moved his way quickly up the up-and-coming director shortlist, gaining recognition for his work with Gus Dapperton, NOWNESS, and Leaf, to name a few.
Expect Matthew Dillon Cohen to be a name you see more and more. His style is one that lends itself to narrative work and, with any luck, we’ll be seeing longer format offerings from him down the line. Until then, sit back, wait, and watch. Below, we talk to Cohen himself about New York City streets, Repo Man, and omnipresent small-town charms.
Place of residence:
Place of origin:
Director/ plant lover.
Best street in New York City:
Worst thing you’ve ever seen on the subway:
Not going there.
Train you’re on the most:
Most difficult part of filming:
Making a film is a deeply collaborative project. Everyone has an opinion about everything and will express it. I think sticking to my vision as a director while respecting the story without others influence is a constant battle I find.
Film you watched 20+ times as a kid:
Bad Company, where Chris Rock finds out his long-lost twin brother was killed by the Russian mafia and the FBI needs to bring him out of the hood to complete mission on his brothers behalf. Really incredible stuff.
Film that’s inspired you the most as an adult:
Adaptation, Repo Man, Buffalo 66.
Contemporary creative you think is doing interesting things:
Miranda July. I think she’s a genius.
Musician you’d want to collaborate with that you haven’t already:
Jamiroquai, hands down.
Last place you’ve traveled to:
We traveled to Warwick, New York to shoot Gus Dapperton’s “Prune, You Talk Funny” video. That was really fun.
American city that interests you the most and why:
I’m obsessed with small-town America–places in the middle of nowhere like Montana or Tennessee. There’s this omnipresent nostalgia and charm that’s beautiful and impossible to find in big cities.
Window or aisle:
Only thing that keeps you sane during a New York winter:
I’m not sane during the winter in New York, but having plants does help a bit.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten:
Don’t go to film school.