Matt Levitz spent his youth immersing himself in the hottest books, magazines, music releases, television shows, video games, concerts, live theater, and animation festivals. Most weekends were spent at the multiplex, often watching the first movie at noon and ending the fifth one around midnight. His parents worried that all this focus on entertainment instead of schoolwork would impede his chances for a good career. They were wrong.
In High School, Matt spent almost two years working at Pacific’s Carriage Square Movie Theatres in Oxnard, CA. He would come early on Fridays to watch the newest movies, and then take all of his lunch breaks inside the theaters, watching the films again in random twenty to thirty minute increments. (Which is why there are long segments of “The Untouchables,” “Dragnet,” “Predator" and “The Secret of My Success” that he can recite verbatim, and other segments that contain plot points that he doesn’t even remember happened.) His fondest memory of this time is when “Fatal Attraction” played there, and he would make sure to be inside the theater five minutes before the end of every showing, to witness the crowd jumping out of their seats every time Glenn Close popped out of the bathtub. Seeing popcorn fly into the air was a particular thrill.
Throughout his five years of college (half of which were spent majoring in Radio-TV-Film at Cal State University, Northridge), Matt worked as an extra in movies and TV shows. These were not speaking roles. They mostly involved walking back and forth far away from the camera, pretending to eat in restaurant scenes, or pulling books out of High School lockers while the actors walked past him, saying their dialogue. Because he could still pass for a High School student, he frequently worked on the first two seasons of “Beverly Hills, 90210” and the entire run of “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” He got to witness an epic Alec Baldwin meltdown on the set of “The Marrying Man,” he accidentally slingshotted a rock into his own face in “Newsies,” he got to react to a disembodied hand delivering mail through an office building in “Addams Family Values,” and he got extra enjoyment from appearing on sitcoms that were shot in front of live studio audiences, specifically, “Nurses” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” It was the perfect college job for him, because not only did it allow him to observe film and television production firsthand, but on an average ten hour work day, he was called to set maybe three hours, and spent the other seven in a holding area, doing his college homework while getting paid for his time.
Matt joined L.E.G. Productions in 1992 as an unpaid intern. His hard work and encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture earned him a full time job offer. Within a few short years, he was running the company's radio division, flying all over the country to conduct celebrity interviews with music and movie stars, and writing two weekly syndicated radio programs. These were the junket years, where he met Greg and participated in the movie junket roundtable interviews that make up this podcast.
Matt’s two children were born in 1999 and 2002, and with them came a pull to stay at home and be a father, instead of being out at screenings every night and at junkets every weekend. Matt had already dabbled in his company’s television side, and because he proved to be good at it, he chose to move himself over full time, delegating his radio shows and junket participation to other employees. He began to produce behind-the-scenes stories for DVDs and Electronic Press Kits. He was promoted to Vice President of the company, a role that enabled him to bring his creative flair and attention to structure, pacing, humor and storytelling to all of the company's work. Then in the mid 2000s, bored with collaborating with editors who seemed to be having all the fun, Matt took some editing classes and started to cut his own pieces, which he still does to this day.
ParaNorman Featurette Edited and Co-Produced by Matt Levitz
If you’re interested in seeing some of Matt’s work, he edited and co-produced half hour documentaries on the DVD/Blu-ray releases of “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “The BoxTrolls” and “ParaNorman.” You can also find featurettes that he edited, and sometimes produced or co-produced, on the home video releases of “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” “13 Reasons Why: Season One,” “Coraline,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “9,” “Surf’s Up” and “Dinosaur.”
In 1998, when the world wide web was still a new and expanding landscape, Matt wanted to get involved by trying to build a webpage. As his subject, he chose his favorite local band, Venice, who had no webpage, so he built them one, “Venice Central," without their knowledge or consent. After it debuted online and started to generate some traffic, Matt revealed himself to the band, and he was embraced and made an official part of their team. Over the next twenty years, they’ve become some of his best friends, and he has been part of their marketing and publicity team. He created and maintained their MySpace presence, then later switched over to Facebook. He has co-written with the band most of their press releases and bios. Bizarrely, he has a co-songwriting credit on two songs on their 2006 album, “Amsterdam." In more recent years, he has directed and edited music videos and concert clips for them, including the 2014 two and a half hour long concert DVD release for Venice’s cover band side project, “The Pine Mountain Logs - Live and On Fire!” which Matt directed, edited, and was one of the camera operators on. He put that DVD together over three and a half years of nights and weekends. You can watch a montage of clips from that below.
Matt is proud to be a founding, and currently emeritus, member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Among the accomplishments that earned him his emeritus status were coming up with and lobbying for the creation of the Best Ensemble and Best Animated Film categories in the BFCA's annual Critics' Choice Awards. The latter category was integrated into the program three years before the Academy Awards followed suit.
Pop culture still plays a large role in Matt's life. His Blu-Ray and DVD collection takes up an entire wall. He spends an unhealthy amount of time on the internet and playing his Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch on his 70" HDTV with 5.1 DTS surround sound. He has attended Comic-Con and Wonder Con many times. He still catches almost every major movie release, either in theaters or on Blu-ray, and he binge watches far too much television. His two teenage kids, Jonathan and Kaitlyn, live with him full time, and he takes them to see Broadway musicals all over Los Angeles at least twice a month. (On a recent trip to New York, the three of them saw eleven Broadway shows in eight days!) The good news is that none of these hedonistic endeavors constitute goofing off anymore. Now, it's research!