Matthew Stevens, who entered the world of filmmaking when he became manager of Kimball’s Peak Theater at the age of 19, founded the Indie Spirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs three years later.
This year’s festival, held during April at multiple venues throughout the city, attracted hundreds of entries and thousands of attendees.
Stevens took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his business.
Organization: Independent Film Society of Colorado
Position: Vice president of the Independent Film Society of Colorado and senior programmer of the Indie Spirit Film Festival.
Hometown: Colorado Springs
How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 24 years.
Education: Three years of college, I never completed my degree. However, I plan to return this fall and complete my bachelor’s degree.
A few words about your company: The Independent Film Society of Colorado is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization formed to promote the appreciation and celebration of independent film in Colorado.
Specifically, the mission and purpose is to bring independent filmmakers and audiences together to cultivate a thriving film community by having events such as the annual Indie Spirit Film Festival, film seminars and film series.
Recent accomplishments: Awarded “Best Treat for Cinemaphiles: Indie Spirit Film Festival” by readers of the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Biggest career break: When I was 19, I became the manager of Kimball’s Twin Peak. This began my journey into the business and film industry.
The toughest part of your job: Rejecting a filmmaker’s work. I wish I could give every filmmaker a chance to be the next John Sayles or Jim Jarmusch.
Someone you admire: Kimball Bayles took me under his wing and taught me quite a bit about business and independent film. I feel I’ve learned more about running a business in the real world from him than I did from my college professors.
About your family: I feel I’ve inherited my parents’ entrepreneurial spirit. My mother, Diane Stevens, started the Book Sleuth in Old Colorado City when I was just a baby. I would sleep in a Moses basket under the checkout counter while she managed the book store.
My father, Michael Stevens, is an owner of Red Herring Productions, a full-service provider of portable entertainment for corporations, private parties, and public institutions, specializing in audience participation murder mysteries.
Something else you’d like to accomplish: This summer, I’ve set a personal goal to write, shoot and edit a short film. The film is a satire about society’s dependence on technology set to the style of a cowboy/western movie.
How your business will change during the next decade: IFSOC and the Indie Spirit Film Festival are still fledgling organizations. We plan only to grow and become self-sustaining organizations.
What book are you currently reading?: “Blindness” by Jose Saramago (also a great movie).
What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs?: Not Colorado Springs, but the people of Colorado Springs’ perceptions. I think people have become dependent on their comfort zones, i.e. going to the same restaurants, businesses and entertainment venues. People have a difficult time stepping out of their comfort zone and going to something new and “scary” like a locally owned restaurant or business.