My DIY Heroes 2: Matt Goff
Welcome to the second installation in the continuing series “My DIY Heroes” which honors my friends and acquaintances who embody the Do It Yourself spirit. This time around, we pay tribute to Matt Goff, filmmaker extraordinaire, of Tin Can Films. If you missed the first edition focusing on my mentor, Hush (Writer, Photographer, Designer, Printer and so much more), check it out!
Tin Can Films
I met Matt Goff at Dana Street Roasting Company in Mountain View, CA back when it was Jumpin’ Java. A short while into our acquaintance, Matt joined forces with Michael Afendakis and Glenn Artero to launch the independent film company Tin Can Films in 2000 with the short film “The Connie Letters“.
Artero moved on and in 2007 Goff and Afendakis began working on a documentary about Bay Area bluesman Chris Cotton.
The film evolved to become “Delta Rising: A Blues Documentary”, which encompasses the whole of the Mississippi River delta region blues scene, centered around Clarksdale, MS, and features folks you may know like Morgan Freeman, Willie Nelson, and Jimbo Mathus, as well as legends from the world of the Blues James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Pinetop Perkins, Ruby Wilson, “Sunshine” Sunny Payne, and the list of cameos goes on and on. And of course, Chris Cotton.
The film, now in post-production, has been doing well at various film festivals.
As luck would have it, just as I contacted Matt about this DIY article, he happens to be working on a documentary about the challenges and DIY spirit persons with disabilities, like his friend Wacky, face on a daily basis. Unlike “Murderball”, a documentary about people in wheelchairs that play basketball, his new project seeks “to find the inspiration in the everyday things not the extraordinary.”
“What is independence?” the Tin Can Films website reads. “For us it is the desire and ability to freely create, not without input, not without teamwork, but with the freedom to tell a story the way we think it is meant to be told.” But when asked about Do It Yourself as a label, Matt responds similarly to Hush. “I fucking hate the term ‘DIY’. DIY is a label put on the concept of making due with what (we) have so that companies can more easily try to sell us shit we don’t really need to get a particular job done.” Like many of my DIY Heroes, Doing It Yourself was simply a matter of necessity. “When I was younger we were very poor and everything was ‘DIY’ because we couldn’t afford to have someone else do it for us.”
Goff is in the running for James Brown’s old moniker “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” picking up work for gaffer, production assistant and other miscellaneous industry work for film companies and working regularly for a couple of years with Ad-Venture Video Production on commercial spots, while constantly hustling his Tin Can films. I went with him to Half Moon Bay once be an extra in the film “California Tango“, where he was working as gaffer, and he was one of the first on the set and last to leave. “It’s called ‘Show Business’ not ‘Show Art’, right?” he asks rhetorically. “That doesn’t mean every film or project has to be designed as a money making venture. It just means you need to develop a way to have a JOB that supports THE WORK.”
He quickly comes around to the virtues of DIY, though, going so far as to suggest it’s “the world’s best kept secret – It feels fucking fantastic to re-invent the wheel all on your own like it’s never been seen or done before. Life is short and you can spend it helping others fulfill their goals/aspirations, or you can chase your own. You can buy into other people’s vision(s) or you can try to get them to believe your own.” He sees the option between working for someone else and doing it yourself as “the difference between following a road or blazing a trail. It can be the difference between a life of comfort and a life that fulfills you in more existential ways.” And it’s this existentialist viewpoint that drives him most, even recommending to newcomers to “read a good translation of the Tao.”
The question “evolves into a discussion not about DIY, but about a man’s philosophy about how to properly live life – which for me is the higher priority,” Goff explains. “Our purpose is to enjoy life until we die. Creating or enjoying art, helping others, business ventures, sex, are a means to that end, and too often we mistake those ways of finding fulfillment for ‘purpose’. Hubris, fear, and desire… I would try to explore those ideas more, because they are the ones that can have detrimental effects on decision making when they gain control of the process. It takes calm and silence to be moved forward by internal motivations rather than external stimuli, so that’s why I stay out of the rat race where possible.”
Tin Can Films – We had been in discussion about them producing “Hope and Mercy”, but alas…
Check it out! – “Tom Boyle’s Name Dropping with Tom Boyle, by Tom Boyle” article “My DIY Heroes: Part 1: Hush“.
Dana Street Roasting Company – Best coffee in the Bay Area, hand selected in Costa Rica, Hawaii and other growing locations, roasted in-house by brew-master Aaron Bratton (pictured above). I spent a lot of time there – met many great friends, connected with many great design clients and creative collaborators, have many great memories! Kudos to proprietor Nick Chaput!
Mountain View, CA – My hometown when I first moved to California, nestled at the bottom of the Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area near San Jose. Other great artists to come from or pass through the Mountain View area include Brianna Wanlass (check out her latest video) and her old band Atomic Mint, Letters Make Words and Trash Pop Icons, the project that lead singing sisters Naomi and Nadia Zep work on now, Dickin’ Jane, My Monster, Won’t Belong, Jason Fitzgerald and Aaron Bratton (who collaborated on Pistol Packin’ Monkey).
The Connie Letters – This short which Matt directed was a Finalist at the Upward Rising Film Festival.
Chris Cotton – When people ask me what the best show I’ve ever seen, I always recount the time that Chris and Brandon (a band-mate from his former group “The Blue Eyed Devils“) showed up at a house party and started playing impromptu on the huge deck which was filled with friends, as other friends spun flaming swords and bollos. Click here for pics from The Big Sea.
Delta Rising: A Blues Documentary – I’m proud to say that I’m on the list of contributors.
Clarksdale, MS – Mystical shangra la of the Blues.
Willie Nelson – Pot smoking, tax dodging country music star.
James “Super Chikan” Johnson – He makes guitars out of cigar boxes!
Pinetop Perkins – Just turned 97 and still going!
The list – (Not all made the final cut, some have since passed away.) James “Honeyboy” Edwards, James Montgomery, Charlie Musselwhite, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Jerry Ricks, Wild Bill (in his last recorded interview), Wesley Jefferson, Philip Walker, Russell George (jazz musician), Grace Kelly (the sax player not the dead film star), Bill Luckett, Scott Bomar (Black Snake Moan soundtrack composer), Dick Waterman (writer, promoter, photographer), and believe it or not, there are more!
Film festivals – “Delta Rising” won Best Producers at the Beverly Hills Film Festival and has shown to great reception at the New Hampshire, Victoria, Newport, Bahamas International, Big Muddy, on Location: Memphis, and Big Sky Documentary Film Festivals.
Tin Can Films Mission Statement – The complete Mission Statement is available on the Tin Can Films website.
Hush – Check out the article “My DIY Heroes: Part 1: Hush“.
Aurora Meneghello Productions – Originally from Vincenza, Italy, she now works in San Francisco as a professional photographer.
James Brown – Ow! Hit me! Yow! Stop hittin’ me! As a Bowie fan, I find this bit of history interesting: “His 1976 single “Hot” (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved, Loved)” borrowed the main riff from “Fame” by David Bowie, not the other way around as was often believed. The riff was provided to “Fame” co-writers John Lennon and Bowie by guitarist Carlos Alomar, who had briefly been a member of Brown’s band in the late 1960s.”
The Hardest Working Man in Show Business – Brown would lose weight every tour and kept his furious show schedule even as he battled the prostate cancer that eventually took his life. Many others have tried to lay claim to the moniker, though, including Marc Summers of Nickelodeon‘s Double Dare, Tom Joyner and most humorously, Ron Jeremy, whose book with that as its title puts (Working) in parenthesis. …I get it!
Half Moon Bay – Such a beautiful town!
Gaffer – The chief electrician on a movie set. Matt strung a lot of lights and sound wires.
California Tango – Released in April 2010 from La Honda Films. I was originally just an extra, one of many dancers, but thanks to my spiffy nehru style jacket (the one I was married in) I got a few lines as Cornelius. Most notably, “Shut up, Prissy (played by the lovely Catherine Kim Poon – pictured left), you know America has been a blessing!” Check out the clip – Matt can be seen (for some reason) 3:06 into it, and I can be vaguely seen at 4:07 and more clearly, dancing poorly at 5:41.
Existentialism – A philosophy attributed to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, (“Nietzsche has an S!” “He must be a philosopher!” – Monty Python mocking American tourists in “The Meaning of Life”.) which emphasizes our individual freedom, rights and responsibilities. Worldly desire is negative, society is unnatural, and our choices and actions determine our being. Essentially, high fallutin’ DIY.
Tao – Which means both “the path” and “doctrine”, or to put in another way “Gospel” or “Bible“, except that it’s Eastern philosophy. I suggest the book “The Tao of Pooh“, but just because I’m purile. There are also The Tao of Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali, which is odd, since Ali is Muslim.
Sex – Nothing. I just wanted to underline the word.
Tavius Aiton – Check out his site Tavius.org for tee shirt designs (some of which I designed), his writings, music and more! And Follow this blog as Tavius is the next in the line of My DIY Heroes.
Tune in next time when “My DIY Heroes” spotlights Tavius Dyer,
Writer, Musician, Record Producer, Event Organizer and Vetted Word Columnist.
Come back for the continuing series for features on Artist Carina Lomeli, Comic Book Publishers Hidden Agenda Press, Cartoonist / Rapper Keith Knight, Zine Publishers Kill Zinesters, and more!
copyright © Tom Boyle