Double Life Films returns to it's roots. As a college sophomore in 1999, Thaddeus D. Matula made a science fiction short film that played nationally on PBS and in festivals the world over. Today DLF is in active preproduction of a groundbreaking new feature film.
The story of Kipchoge Keino – the original Kenyan distance runner of international acclaim. Kip's insatiable desire to compete broke down barriers for himself and his countrymen, giving pride to a young nation defining what it means to be Kenyan.
The incredible true story of a group Jamaican locals, international conservation biologists, photographers, filmmakers and musicians banding together to save “the rarest lizard in the world” from a Chinese seaport development and a gripping expose of the realities of life in modern Jamaica.
PONY EXCESS was the series finale of the original run of ESPN's Academy Award-winning documentary series 30 for 30. TRAILER:
Thaddeus D. Matula (Double Life Films) is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director; including 2xESPN 30 for 30 films (BRIAN & THE BOZ and PONY EXCESS) in addition to projects for HBO, BBC, PBS, THE GRAMMYs, and many more.
Matula has two documentary features in production -- MAN ON THE RUN about the original Kenyan distance runner of international fame Kipchoge "Kip" Keino and LIGUANEA the David & Goliath story of the Jamaican Iguana vs the Jamaican government and a World Bank-blacklisted Chinese conglomerate. He is developing two documentary series -- LIVE CITY: MUSIC & CREATIVE RESISTANCE IN AUSTIN, TX about a city and a turning point and the figures that shape it and WILD WORLD (working title) continuing his journeys and adventures with Dr. Robin Moore, conservation biologist and Nat Geo conservation photographer.
Currently, Matula is excited to be returning to his narrative writing and directing roots with the feature version of THE DREAMER, the full epic realization of his college era 1999 science fiction short film that brought him his initial international renown.
Waking up to a post-apocalyptic nightmare, a slave freed from his dream-inhibiting microchip duels with a hard-line Governor while searching for a mythic hero to save the lives of his love and himself.
DIRECTOR'S NOTES/DREAMER DIARY:
27 Mar 2018
I’m sitting at the desk I used in high school. It used to be my father’s desk. It’s expansive. I have with me my iMac brought with me from Austin on this trip. I am writing the new draft of THE DREAMER here at my parents house. It’s the house I grew up in and a house where so many of my stories began. This is also where I was when the conundrum that later lead to the creation of THE DREAMER. After a childhood knowing that I wanted to be a filmmaker “when I [grew] up”, late in high school I started wondering whether I should listen to my parents and I guess the community at large. I felt that society was telling me that Had to do something safe that perhaps I shouldn’t follow my dreams. I looked into a number of other things at that point, things that may have been fulfilling - but in the end I felt I had a purpose, a mission to be a filmmaker. It was that gnawing doubt that happened in my mind right before I was committing myself to this course of action - right before film school - that intrigued me.
Near the end of my freshman year, as I was working on a short film called Stanley’s End Game, I started to consider what i might do in a science fiction story and I was transported back to that decision. When the rubber met the road! I peeled back the decision and started to shape it differently. What if society wasn’t just telling me not to follow my dreams, what if it was demanding it? And the punishment attempting to reach those dreams and failing was death? I built a society around that premise. And with dreams, I also made it very literal. I was inspired by studies on REM sleep - it’s thought to be vital to our longterm memory storage and regulating our mood. What if in this society REM sleep was inhibited by a brain implant? That the slaves of this society got their dopamine hit by doing the grunt work that moved the cogs of civilization?
And with longterm memory short circuited already, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for this society to selectively edit recent memories to essentially “reboot” these slaves after they would go off script, if you will. But what would happen if the brain started evolving, forcing it’s way into dream state? And that short circuited the chip’s functions overall? So now you aren’t getting the dopamine hit from work and at first you think you are going crazy because you are seeing things in your sleep?
Your dreams start showing you things that are outside of your experience. Outside of this small world that you are living in. And you want to break free? That’s Nil’s story. Nil finds others like him while avoiding oversight. He leads to love, he finds out about a mythical figure, known as The Dreamer, who made it out. He’s inspired to make it out too. Maybe to find this Dreamer so together they can free everyone. But for now it’s enough for just him to get out. But what is victory if it’s victory unshared? He must return and escape again with his new love Ten. But now everyone is looking for Nil he comes back to escape with his love… but will he be allowed to escape again at all?
Fun stuff! I am having a blast living in this world again. Now doing a page one rewrite after finishing a draft last year. This time I am using Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! book to help shape my on screen arguments. Just as in college I would use Sid Field’s amazing book Screenplay. And on my documentaries I hold fast to the 5 act structure of Shakespeare. Remember that storytelling has been around since human language began. It’s vitally important to learn from those who came before us and use those techniques to give the world something relatable and recognizable to the audience while then delivering on something different. I hope this film can inspire at least one person the way that Star Wars (the original) inspired me and so many others.
To sleep, perchance to dream…
Thaddeus D. Matula
In 1999 Thaddeus D. Matula, a college sophomore, put the story of The Dreamer on film for the second time. He had filmed a near silent version over the prior summer in a film production class. Head to vimeo to see the low res transfer captured from a VHS tape.
Man on the Run is the story of Kipchoge Keino – the original Kenyan distance runner of international acclaim. Kip's insatiable desire to compete opened doors and broke down barriers for himself and his countrymen to reach ever-higher levels of competition. His world records and gold medals ushered in Kenya as an international distance-running power and gave pride to a young nation by providing a definition of what it means to be Kenyan.
Losing his mother at age three has driven Kip toward connection. Racing towards approval has made him an Olympic Champion, a legend the stuff of Kenyan schoolchildren’s textbooks. He is a hero to a continent, a father to thousands, and the embodiment an Olympic spirit whose torch he has carried to every country on earth… But it is still not enough. It’s never going to be enough. He’s still competing; he’s on the track, still alone… and always on the run.
Kip’s story will be told through the fulcrum of a four minute race ran nearly 40 years ago. Through it the audience discovers the identity of a country, the pathos of incredible loss, and the journey to conquer pain. It’s a narrative woven together by the quest for family, Olympic glory, service to a nation and the revolution of the world’s oldest sport.
Kip’s accomplishments are known.
The man is not.
On the southern coast of Jamaica lies the Portland Bite Protected Area, the island nation’s largest preserve and home to the planet’s last remaining wild Jamaican Iguanas. In this ethereal wilderness, a driven international team - including an ex-Kingston street kid turned “guardian of the reptiles” - protect the species from poachers, invasive species, and larger conspiratorial and imperial forces threatening to destroy the entire 700 square mile biodiversity hotspot. When a secretive deal by the Jamaican government emerges that would allow a World Bank blacklisted Chinese conglomerate to transform the region into a massive shipping port and transshipment hub, new allies appear against ever greater opposition threatening the stability of everything they’ve worked so hard to protect, with no less than a state sanctioned extinction event on the line.
A powerful combination of investigative journalism and nature documentary, LIGUANEA is the incredible true story of a group of people devoting their lives to build a better future in the real Jamaica that the world’s forgotten.