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RSA Films has signed accomplished filmmaker Matthew K. Firpo for commercial representation worldwide. His commercials traverse genres ranging from documentary and fashion to narrative and lifestyle, all of them strikingly cinematic and possessing an honesty that inspires audiences. He’s directed spots for Tinder, Snapchat, fashion films for Suitcase Magazine and a Super Bowl commercial for Chase Bank. Refuge, his award-winning documentary short about the Syrian refugee crisis, garnered rave reviews as a riveting human rights chronicle and premiered at SXSW.
“We champion filmmakers like Matthew who are passionate about their craft and making a difference,” says Jules Daly, President, RSA Films. “He is a talented director, photographer and screenwriter who is a great fit for RSA’s diverse offering. His work is topical, engaging and provocative. Our team is excited to introduce him to new clients and bring him challenging new opportunities.”
“I couldn’t think of a better creative home for my commercial career,” says Firpo, who also co-wrote (with his cousin Ryan) the original sci-fi screenplay Mimi From Rio to be produced by Ridley Scott and Scott Free for Netflix. “RSA Films is a legendary company with an enduring connection to feature films, that believes strongly in the interplay between art and commerce. As a filmmaker in Hollywood, commercial director and documentary photographer, RSA stands firmly at the crossroads of everything I do as an artist.”
Firpo graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2012 where his thesis film paved the way for his first commercial work with Tinder, helping legitimize the world’s most popular dating app; his series of spots won him Best Director at the Adweek Watch Awards. Through his own shop, Magna Carta, he went on to direct a vast range of commercial projects, short films and integrated campaigns. He landed on the radar of Forbes, which featured him in the prestigious ‘30 Under 30’ last year.
During the height of the European Refugee Crisis, Matthew spent a month in Greece creating The Refuge Project, a multimedia chronicle of human stories from the frontlines; working with a volunteer team of artists, he spent a month on location speaking with refugees and their families about their experiences leaving home.
“I wanted to know more about their stories, about what they had left behind, about where they hoped their lives were headed.” Firpo explains. “Refuge was born from this desire to learn more. I wanted to understand a crisis at the human level, and more than anything, I wanted to help. So I set out to help in the way that I knew best—with the telling and sharing of human stories.”
Refuge made its worldwide premiere at SXSW; its busy international festival run also included IndieFest, Camerimage and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival where it won Best Documentary Short.
UNICEF reached out after seeing Refuge and enlisted Firpo to document human stories from local organizations working on the frontlines in some of Jamaica’s most dangerous neighborhoods. The result, Making Peace, an acclaimed documentary short working to end gang violence and sexual violence against women. Firpo calls his most recent documentary short, Dreamers, a “spiritual successor to Refuge.” It was shot on the Mexican-Guatemalan border and is about Central American migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach the North. It’s currently in post-production.
In the feature film realm, Firpo, and his writing partner and cousin Ryan, wrote the original screenplay Ruin, No. 1 on 2017’s The Black List. Ruin is a post-WWII drama about a nameless ex-Nazi Captain navigating the ruins of post-war Germany, determined to atone for his war crimes by hunting down the surviving members of his former SS death squad with the help of a desperate, young camp survivor. The film is slated for production in 2018 and will star Gal Gadot, with Justin Kurzel (Macbeth) directing.
Firpo says, “For me, working as a director, photographer or screenwriter, the purpose is the same—to change the way people see the world, through the telling and sharing of stories that matter. Whether its sports, fashion, cars or social causes, the work I’m most passionate about is based in capturing the world in bold new ways. I want to chase work that people will never forget.”