Monday, June 10, 2019

Somerville's Matthew Martino: Approaches his work with 'Savage Grace'

Matthew Martino at the Bloc 11 Cafe

Somerville's Matthew Martino: Approaches his work with 'Savage Grace'

By Doug Holder

I met lighting designer, filmmaker Matthew Martino at my backroom respite in the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square, Somerville. Martino, a 40ish man-- brought an abundance of energy and focus to our interview, and certainly these same qualities inform his work for his production company “Savage Grace Entertainment” based at 545 McGrath Highway in our city.

Martino is a 4th generation Somervillian. He recently purchased a building in Somerville that houses both him and his production studio for his business.  Martino told me that, “Since rents are skyrocketing in the city—the only way to stay here was to buy a building.” And so now Martino's feet are firmly place on the ground—here in our burg.

Martino has long been involved in the Somerville arts scene. His has worked with the Somerville Arts Council's "ArtBeat Festival," he has brought “ movie nights” to the city, and has been involved with “Carnavale,” a multicultural street festival, that is very popular in our neck of the woods.

Martino has an interesting background. Back in the day, he helped with the lighting of the Mikado at the North Shore Music Festival, as well as the “ Robots' Opera” with Tod Machover and Robert Pinsky, working under my own Tony Award winning lighting designer brother Don Holder.

Martino cut his teeth with the iconoclastic, indie film company “Troma Entertainment” based in New York City. Many well-known actors who were just starting out passed through there. “One that comes to mind is Kevin Costner,” Martino said. One of Troma's noted movies  it produced was the “Toxic Avenger.” This film was first ignored because of its violence, but then went on to be a cult favorite. It was a regular midnight feature at the Bleecker Street Cinemas in New York City in 1985. The operation was run by director Lloyd  Kaufman, an “Old hippie kind of guy,” according to Martino. Martino continued, "The movies he produced were horror films that were cheap to make. They were filled with ample doses of sex, schlock, and had a consistently low budget.” Martino did many things there, including managing human chickens--(people made up to look like chickens)--with makeup and the appointment of these strange birds in their cages

Martino said it is hard to make a living as a theatrical lighting designer in Boston,so to make the daily nut he works as a corporate lighting designer. He lights events, meeting, award ceremonies for many major lights in the corporate world in these parts.

Martino has finished producing and releasing a movie:  "Chainsaw Maidens from Hell," and is the planning stages for a sequel.   He is proud how his  movie "Chainsaw...."  has reached certain filmmaker industry benchmarks. His company has a strong educational component as well. He teaches basic stage combat techniques, and has educational outreach in large swaths of the state--and is available to help stage, produce, light, etc... a wide variety of productions. He is well know for his work with youth organizations.

Martino said, " I want more local producers on the scene here, instead of the all folks from Los Angeles who come here --make a movie, and then go back to L.A."

And indeed Martino is determined to make that a reality --here-- in the " Paris of New England."

No comments:

Post a Comment