Exclusive Interview with “The Harrowing” Star Matthew Tompkins

Matthew Tompkins had the lead role of a cop on the hunt for a killer in the new film “The Harrowing” (out December 25 from Film Mode Entertainment) written specifically for him, the genre staple tells us in this exclusive interview.

-PH: Where do you hail from, sir?

-Matthew: Born in Washington D.C. but raised for the bulk of my childhood in Oklahoma City. College in Spokane, WA at Whitworth University, New York City for several years after that, and then settled in Dallas, Texas in the mid 90’s, where my wife and I are raising our children.

-PH: And ever been tempted by Hollywood or happy to keep it local for the meantime?

-Matthew: Well, I’ve certainly spent a fair amount of time in Los Angeles over the years for work, but because the work has always been plentiful while allowing me to home base out of Texas, I’ve never felt compelled to STAY in Hollywood. Always been content to fly in, do the work, and fly back out, wherever the work takes me. The industry has changed so much over the years that it isn’t necessary to live there anymore to be “in the business.”

-PH: Tell us about some of the work you’ve done up until The Harrowing. Is there one you consider your big break?

-Matthew: Nothing stands out as THE big break. It has just been a steady succession of small breaks in the form of consistent work in Film, TV, and professional Theater…all of which led to work in all kinds of things of varying size and notoriety, some with more exposure than others, and all with their own flavor and vibe. Working on bigger Studio Films or popular Network TV Shows brings all the obvious advantages (exposure, compensation, etc) but you are more of a cog in a VERY large machine…Producing and acting in the Indie Films we make creates an entirely different level of artistic participation and energy output…VERY satisfying to be in the EYE of the storm in that way, where you are DRIVING the narrative yourself. I’ve been in professional theater for over 30 years as well and been lucky to play some of the great leads in both contemporary and classic plays and THAT kind of work is deeply satisfying on SO many levels, too, and VERY different that camera work. But overall, no, no stand alone BIG break. Just a series of bricks that have built a house, literally, my family and I can live in.

-PH: You wear a couple of hats – what do you consider yourself to be first and foremost?

-Matthew: A collaborator. For me, done the right way and with the right people, Acting and Producing aren’t mutually exclusive…but can work beautifully hand in hand, and with powerful synergy, to facilitate the telling of a story.

-PH: How would you describe the tone of the movie?

-Matthew: Suffused with tension, almost from the opening frame. Haunting, disturbing, terrifying…and ultimately, by the end, rather mind bending.

-PH: What did you do to prepare for playing your role?

-Matthew: Well, the Writer/Director, Jon Keeyes, wrote the lead role FOR me, always with the intent that I would play Ryan…so I hit the ground already at a full sprint as far as understanding HOW he and I would convey the character. The mental work done, the only other aspect of preparation was creating a very lean and taut physicality for Ryan and that meant about 3 months of getting in shape to handle the physical demands of the role, the long hours, and the lack of sleep.

-PH: Are you anything like him?

-Matthew: Not really, no.

-PH: Horror can evoke all kinds of emotions and be quite grueling to film, how did you wind down at the end of the day?

-Matthew: Easing the seat in my Jeep back and putting on some easy listening music for the drive home. Vegging out for the duration, letting it go, and just DRIVING. Usually by the time I got home I was completely reset, and could hug the wife and kids, and get some rest with a clear mind.

-PH: Thus far, what has been the best experience working in the industry?

-Matthew: So many positive experiences in so many KINDS of projects, almost impossible to pick just one. But overall, making OUR films with our longtime Core Crew, grinding with people you have a long history with and trust implicitly, creating Art that way, hard as it can be on an Indie Film, truly is the BEST.

-PH: Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?

-Matthew: Two new films will come out in 2019 in addition to THE HARROWING…CRYPTO (a heist thriller with Kurt Russell) and DOOM ROOM (a psychological horror thriller we shot in London)…and we are developing a Slate of new films and a Victorian Science Fiction/Steampunk TV Series called THE MECHANICAL GRAVE, based on the global success of a short film we made of the same name.

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