Interview With Matt Keibler - Writer of Get It Together

Courtesy of Matt Keibler and Jack Martin.

Interview by Steph Wu

At White Rice, one of our goals is to shine a spotlight on the creative community around us. We have many talented friends working in the business, so we want to use our platform to talk about their projects and get the word out! If you have an interest in having a profile or interview done with team White Rice, please email us. 
Hello readers! I’m really excited that the first, of hopefully many, profile is on a good friend of mine from school – Matt Keibler. He is a super talented writer and actor. Probably many more hyphenates if I were to really get down to it. He recently wrote and starred in a dark comedy short film about having friends over during the COVID era. If you’ve had any experience of trying to see people safely during the pandemic, this short will be all too relatable and captures the paranoia very well. Please see the link to check out Get It Together and the interview below. 
Click here to watch Get It Together.

Logline: A couple visits their friends for lunch with the promise of a lovely home-cooked meal and all CDC guidelines followed - but promises are not always kept.  

Q: What was the inspiration for the short? Is it based on anyone you know? 
A: Thankfully, it is not based on anyone I know! It came from a few things. The first was we had a friend over for a distanced dinner in our backyard, and there was a moment where she mentioned something about hanging out with someone without clarifying the socially distanced part of that hangout - and that was a stressful few moments of “Oh, wait, safety is going to mean something different to everybody.” The other moment was some NPR interview where they talked about how horrifying birthday parties are because of the 'blowing out the candles’ moment, and I thought that was funny. And then the rest were the day to day neuroses of trying to safely hang out with people! 

Q: What was it like to film under COVID restrictions and what safety precautions did you and the crew take? 
A: Safety was extremely important to us for this, and any restrictions we had to follow were gladly taken into account. We had the whole cast and crew quarantine for 2 weeks before our shoot and get tested twice. While that didn’t change my day to day too much, things like “Oh s--, that last minute prop that flew over our heads is definitely at Ralphs, but I can’t go there because that’s breaking quarantine and putting peoples’ lives in danger.” Stuff like that forced us to think about everything we needed 2 weeks before the shoot. But we wanted to do all that so that the cast could focus on their job instead of worrying about someone else’s COVID-safety-procedure. With that being said, I definitely had a quick anxiety attack when we shot the scene with me and (co-star) Katie Baker coughing into stuff. Between being tired from the prep and the first day of shooting and the stress of the pandemic, I watched her cough right next to me and couldn’t help but think, “Wow. I’ve spent… 8 months avoiding coughs. And here I am… inviting the coughs into my home. Requiring it, actually.” But the precautions worked, and nobody got sick! That is something I’m very happy we accomplished. 

Q: What’s been your process to stay creative while in quarantine? 
A: This has been a tough one to figure out! I certainly spent a lot of early quarantine stressing out over “all this guaranteed free time to write something great or work on a new skill” to the point of burn out and binging 100 hours of Animal Crossing (laughs). Now that I have adjusted to this new normal, I am SO thankful that I co-created this podcast anthology series we’re calling Black Box Radio with USC alum Monisha Dadlani. It’s essentially a collection of short plays that we produce entirely with a few teams of writer/directors. I don’t want that to sound like a plug or anything, but it has been so helpful to have a collective community of people trying to be creative in this time. I’ve been doing most of the editing work, so I get to work with these teams through their whole production process and I feel so damn fortunate to be able to learn from all these people in a way that I’m not sure I could have without these circumstances. 

Q: We’re all here for the plug! Can you tell us more about the podcast and where people can look out for it? 
A: We're still figuring out the release situation with it. We're exploring a few avenues of distribution and submitting to the festival circuit, and those things require that we don't release it just yet. But the whole project has gone well and we're starting to talk about doing our second batch of stories for 2021! 

Q: What are your thoughts on COVID related content? 
A: Ah. I don’t entirely know where I stand on this because on one hand, I want to see how other people have experienced this phenomenon, and I want to see the similarities and differences in lifestyles. I think it’s a guarantee to see this pandemic in our media for a very long time to come. And yet, it’s so present in every day of our lives, that I’m feeling burn out on anything pandemic related. So, I think it’s a mix. I’m definitely very interested in seeing how these TV shows currently filming handle things like background cast. Will they have a mask on? Will the smaller co-star roles not be as present? How will the pandemic be referenced in the worlds of TV shows that exist alongside our own? All questions that I’m sure some 8th grader right now will write papers about in some film theory class when they make it to college. 

Q: So what’s the first thing you’ll do when this is all over? 
A: I really want to go dancing with my friends. Or cook a big meal for people I’ve only seen on video chat for the last 9 months!