Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Matthew Blute
Name: Matthew Blute
Education: BA (Film Studies), University of Rochester, 1996; MFA (Cinematography), American Film Institute, 2003
Current city/state of residence: Los Angeles, CA
Job Title: Cinematographer
Employer: (self) Open Road Pictures, LLC
Community activities: Volunteering at Boston Prep Charter Public School,
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
I was tricked. I visited the campus in July and it was a beautiful day. Also, I wanted to a school with good film studies department that also offered a broad curriculum.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
David Rodowick and Sharon Willis were mentors in the film department. Sharon especially encouraged me and a few other students to take our first steps in to the world of production during our senior year. Looking back, it was kind of a technical disaster but I learned so much and the support she provided us was invaluable.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?
I knew I wanted to be a cinematographer but I was working in Boston as an assistant editor to pay the bills and taking classes at Avid Technology to expand my skills. Computer editing was a new phenomenon at the time (= old). While taking classes I applied for a job at Avid and I was off and running. I learned an incredible amount about the post-production side of the business while earning a paycheck that was a bit more dependable than freelance. I also learned that I didn’t want to do post for my career.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I’m a cinematographer and recently I’ve been working in 3D production. At the moment I’m in St. Petersburg Russia serving as the Stereoscopic Supervisor on the WWII epic film, “Stalingrad.” I don’t know if I chose this career or it chose me but I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The foundation in film history and theory I received at UR has served me well throughout my career. Being able to have detailed conversations with my creative collaborators about films we admire, or the stories behind the films and their analysis is one of the best parts of my job.
How do you stay connected with the University?
I try to visit every year or two for Meliora Weekend and so many of my good friends are UR grads, including my wife!
What advice do you have for current students?
If you’re interested in film production spend all your time practicing your craft. Be willing to work for very little compensation for a long time but persistence will win out. Let the journey be the destination.