Matthew Millan

Matthew Millan

180 Films
Cinematographer, Director, Director of Photography and Editor

Los Angeles, California

Member Since:
May 2013
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About Matthew

For a filmmaker, Matthew boasts a truly unconventional background. Born into a Coast Guard family, he grew up in several places, but spent his formative years exploring the Ko’olau Mountains of Oahu, and the Steinbeckian backwoods of Central California. From his mother, Matthew inherited an unquenchable sense of adventure, and from his father an undying love of science that would amalgamate into the cornerstone of his adult life. By the time he graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz, he had already undertaken treks through the wilds of three continents while still graduating with a Bachelor of Science in physics, and receiving special honors on his senior thesis for investigating a groundbreaking hypothesis of the origin of Gamma Ray Bursts.

After spending 10 months traveling throughout Eastern Europe, Matthew moved to Silicon Valley where he worked as an engineer for several years. Unfulfilled by this vocation, he co-founded 180 Films with his college lab-partner. Since then, he has built an eclectic portfolio of narrative films, music videos, commercials, educational series, and documentaries. His work has steered him to some of the most challenging places in the world, from the barren peaks of Ladakh, India to the northern stretches of China. To date, his films have premiered in nearly 50 festivals worldwide, and have garnered a myriad of accolades.

Over the years, Matthew has honed a unique ability to uncover extraordinary stories of individuals, and use them as a lens into global events. When the Arab Spring erupted in North Africa, he traveled to Libya in 2011 to witness the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi firsthand, and uncover such a lens. While there, he investigated the story of a man whose heroic sacrifice led to the liberation of Benghazi from Gaddafi’s yoke, culminating in his award-winning short documentary We Win or We Die. Inspired by the burgeoning music revolution that he witnessed firsthand, he ended up living in Benghazi for a year to document what he described as a music bloom in the shifting sands of The Great Desert. The result is the award-winning high-octane rock & roll documentary Stronger Than Bullets, which premiered on Al Jazeera English in 2016, and has won numerous awards.

Since his completion of Stronger Than Bullets, Matthew has worked on a variety of ambitious projects. Through the summer and autumn of 2016, Matthew collaborated with a former Congressman and a local Evangelical Church to create a series that builds a bridge of understanding between American Christians and Muslims. In 2017, he traveled to coastal Morocco to document a music festival featuring an eclectic mix of top musicians from around the world.

Currently, Matthew is working with renowned journalist, photographer, filmmaker, and adventurer Michael Kirtley on a number of exciting endeavors. The first will usher them to the balmy shores of Togo, where they will illuminate the ancient religion of Vodun through the eyes of a high priest of the religion. The second is an epic expedition in the true spirit of legendary explorer Sir Hanns Vischer, following an historic caravan route that cuts through the bitter wastes of the Sahara. The expedition is set for a 2018 launch.

Unique traits: • Articulate interviewee • Effective interviewer • A diplomatic approach to understanding different cultural dynamics • Ability to operate independently • Ability to adapt to, and work in difficult and dangerous environments • Ability to operate independently • Ability to find unique stories or angles that create a lens into larger events • Deep understanding of the mechanisms of story • Ability to organize large events in difficult circumstances • Pacing that enhances the vibe of the film/video • Creative cutting with limited use of transitions • Strong critical thinking skills

Credits

  • Bridge To Hope

    Bridge To Hope (2016 - 2017)
    Series by Bridge To Hope Director, Cinematographer, Editor In 2016, director Matthew Millan spent several months in North Carolina working with producer Michael Kirtley and non-profit Bridges to Common Ground - headed by former Congressman Mark Siljander - to create a series that focuses on building bridges between Muslims and Evangelical Christians. In his time there, he also worked with Harvest House Evangelical Church to create a forum of young parishioners to discuss the problem and solutions to building bridges between the two communities. Millan filmed and edited the videos of the first phase. The second phase will begin at the end of 2017. SYNOPSIS: The Bridge to Hope Campaign (BTH) is a wide-sweeping, long-term internet film project founded by Michael Kirtley to improve relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, especially focused on issues of Islamophobia and ideological polarization and radicalization on both sides. Its target audience is people who are confused, fearful, or hateful towards people of other faiths, young people in particular. Its long-term mission is to create a more peaceful and loving world through the power of social media and social networking, using the communications power of filmmaking.

  • Stronger Than Bullets

    Stronger Than Bullets (2011 - 2016)
    Documentary by 180 Films, Turning Tables (Adventure, Documentary and Music) Director, Cinematographer The award winning rock & roll documentary from the sands of the Sahara… After witnessing firsthand the music revolution in Libya, Matthew Millan set out to create a high-octane film that truly captures the spirit of rock & roll. Despite an increasingly difficult environment as post-revolution Libya plunged into the abyss of civil war, Millan was able to navigate the pitfalls and capture the moment, conduct interviews, and gather footage. With the incalculable help of ACE award winning maven Doug Blush, Millan created an award-winning breakneck-paced punk song of a film that successfully captures the revolution through the musicians' eyes. On October 19th, 2016, STRONGER THAN BULLETS made its network premiere on the Al Jazeera English series Witness. SYNOPSIS: Libya, 2011. Amidst the bloody revolution to overthrow the tyrant Moammar Gaddafi, a defiant music scene explodes from the dust of war. After 42 years of silence, Benghazi suddenly resounds with a melodic fury, with hip-hop, heavy metal, rock, blues, and even country music echoing around the city. Suddenly, the once-silent streets of the crumbling city reverberate with the hopes and aspirations of a long-neglected youth, and a counter-culture is born. Stronger than Bullets introduces the musicians who rise, and follows them as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder, guitar to rifle, alongside rebel fighters. But once victory is won, the tyrant shatters into a thousand pieces, and shadowy groups emerge to plunge Libya into conflict and chaos. With bombings, assassination, and gun battles dominating the landscape, the musicians once again must practice in secret, their hard-earned freedom of expression threatened by a counter-revolution. Yet the fire of hope burns brightly within them. With a burning desire to hold onto what they gained, they artists once again grab their instruments and cry defiantly, “Strings are stronger than bullets.”

  • Stronger Than Bullets

    Stronger Than Bullets (2011 - 2016)
    Documentary by 180 Films, Turning Tables (Adventure, Documentary and Music) Editor The award winning rock & roll documentary from the sands of the Sahara… After witnessing firsthand the music revolution in Libya, Matthew Millan set out to create a high-octane film that truly captures the spirit of rock & roll. With the incalculable help of A.C.E. award-winning maven Doug Blush, Millan created an award-winning breakneck-paced punk song of a film that successfully captures the revolution through the musicians' eyes. Combining his own footage with footage from a variety of sources, Millan was able to put the viewer on the ground in the midst of the revolution and post-revolutionary confusion. The end result is a taut, harrowing, larger-than-life film that follows ordinary people as they navigate through extraordinary events. SYNOPSIS: Libya, 2011. Amidst the bloody revolution to overthrow the tyrant Moammar Gaddafi, a defiant music scene explodes from the dust of war. After 42 years of silence, Benghazi suddenly resounds with a melodic fury, with hip-hop, heavy metal, rock, blues, and even country music echoing around the city. Suddenly, the once-silent streets of the crumbling city reverberate with the hopes and aspirations of a long-neglected youth, and a counter-culture is born. Stronger than Bullets introduces the musicians who rise, and follows them as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder, guitar to rifle, alongside rebel fighters. But once victory is won, the tyrant shatters into a thousand pieces, and shadowy groups emerge to plunge Libya into conflict and chaos. With bombings, assassination, and gun battles dominating the landscape, the musicians once again must practice in secret, their hard-earned freedom of expression threatened by a counter-revolution. Yet the fire of hope burns brightly within them. With a burning desire to hold onto what they gained, they artists once again grab their instruments and cry defiantly, “Strings are stronger than bullets.”

  • We Win or We Die

    We Win or We Die (2011)
    Documentary by 180 Films (Adventure, Documentary and News) Director, Cinematographer, Producer, Co-editor February, 2011. The people of Benghazi revolt against the brutal regime of Moammar Gaddafi. Yet standing in the way of liberation is the 2-mile sprawling fortress known as The Katiba. Holding hundreds of soldiers and heavy artillery, it stands poised to rain death down upon the protesters. WE WIN OR WE DIE is the story of an ordinary Libyan who understands that there is but one way to stop the bloodshed. One way to gain freedom. The sprawling fortress, the Fist of Gaddafi, the Katiba must fall...

  • The Pawnbroker

    The Pawnbroker (2010)
    Video by 180 Films (Music) Director, Editor, Colorist Music video for singer/songwriter Ryan Bisio. The video is an reimagined Depression era version of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.

  • Seven Strangers

    Seven Strangers (2009)
    Video by 180 Films (Music) Director, Editor, FX Music video for the folk rock band Dinosaur Horses out of Topanga, California.

  • Ghosts of Ladakh

    Ghosts of Ladakh (2008)
    Documentary by 180 Films (Adventure and Documentary) Director, Editor, FX In the spring of 2004, director Matthew Millan set off on a trek to climb Stok Khangri Glacier in Ladakh, India. While making their ascent, the group came across a family of herders, who warned that their dzo (part cow, part yak) had been attacked by a snow leopard. Two hours away, at the edge of a desolate snow field and beleaguered by foreboding peaks, the doomed dzo lay in a puddle of his own blood and awaited his fate. As early dusk descended on the peaks, out of the jagged outcropping emerged two leopards. This is a documentary about the encounter. Note: This is the first footage of its kind. Some would even call it the holy grail of nature footage for no person had ever caught a wild snow leopard in the middle of a successful hunt on film (especially prey as large as a dzo)...until now.

Awards

  • Best Feature Film - Noise Pop Festival
    (2017)

  • Best Documentary Feature (Central Coast showcase) - San Luis Obispo Film Festival
    (2017)

  • Best Soundtrack - Seeyousound FIlm Festival
    (2017)

  • Best Documentary Feature - Woodstock Film Festival
    (2016)

  • Press Award - Santa Fe Film Festival
    (2016)

  • Best Short Documentary - AMFM Palm Springs
    (2013)

  • Best Short Documentary - Africa World Documentary Festival
    (2012)

  • Excellence Award - Rincon Film Festival
    (2012)

  • Special Jury Award - Arizona International Film Festival
    (2012)

  • Runner Up - Navi Mumbai Film Festival
    (2012)

Education

  • University of California-Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)
    (1993-1998)

  • University of Glasgow
    (1995-1996)

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