by T Max
Matt Farley of Danvers, MA, is a creative guy – a very unique kind of creative DIY master. He comes up with his own ways of doing things – very carefully and cleverly thought out. He a musician and film maker. I recent went to the world premier of his latest film Slingshot Cops. It’s a totally different experience than a Hollywood film. Think small community. And although Matt Farley may not be a household name, the films and songs he creates are causing a stir in more than his own backyard.
Noise: Before you were making films you were a musician and you came up with a method to make money with songs on the Internet. Can you describe the idea you had and how you executed your plan?
Matt: I’ve actually been making movies for as long as I’ve been making music, just with less success!
I started releasing music with my band, Moes Haven, in 2004. We put out 25 albums. Most of the albums only earn $5 – $10 per year. That would cause most people to give up.
But I noticed that the only songs actually earning us money were the weird songs about unusual topics (we usually had a couple silly novelty songs mixed in with “serious” song on each album).
It dawned on me that people search iTunes and Spotify for unusual words. And that there aren’t very many songs about topics other than love.
So, since 2008, I’ve released over 18,000 songs about unusual topics, including food, office supplies, poop, animals, dead animals, transportation, etc.. It brings in over $20,000 per year, and has earned me a little notoriety (including a recent performance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon!).
Noise: I want to ask you about being on The Tonight Show, but first, you mentioned Moes Haven. Didn’t that band do some ridiculous amount of consecutive releases? Can you remind me about the frequency and duration of those releases?
Matt: Yes. In 2006, we made a 30-minute album for each day of the year. Each month, we released the best songs from the previous 30 days on an album named after that month.
Tom Scalzo is the other member of Moes Haven. He plays the Eastern European in Slingshot Cops! We haven’t made an album together since 2010. But we have plans for a reunion album in 2023.
Noise: Okay, now, tell me what what your experience was like when you were on Jimmy Fallon.
Matt: It was great! A producer called, asking if I’d like to perform my Pizza Hut song on The Tonight Show. It took me a moment to remember that I’d written a song called “Used to Be a Pizza Hut” a few years ago! Apparently, Jimmy discovered the song on Spotify and wanted me to come perform it!
It was great to spend the night in a nice NYC hotel. Everyone there was very accommodating. The piano was really nice to play. The highlight was when The Roots started performing the song after I had finished!
Noise: Wow – that is very cool! Now what’s this about your other unusual topic songs? What is your best selling subject for song titles?
Matt: My poop songs are by far the most popular. One of my “bands” is called The Toilet Bowl Cleaners. I’m the only member. The most popular song is “The Poop Song,” where I just say the word “poop” over and over for 90 seconds. It’s had more than 300,000 plays on Spotify.
Noise: I see our singer/ songwriter readers pulling their hair out now.
The two films of yours that I’ve seen must be made on very low budget because the acting, filming, editing and the sound are far below Hollywood standards. What the heck are you doing?
Matt: I hear movie directors complaining about how the studio meddles with their work. Their artistic voices are ruined by the money-hungry studios. Yet they continue to work with these studios. They’d never dare make a movie with their own money!
But if they made a movie with their own money, then they could do whatever they want! And most of them have much more money than I do! If you really stand behind your work, you should finance it on your own.
Hollywood movies all look and sound the same. Actors all act in the same way. We’ve been trained to accept these things as examples of proper filmmaking.
Real people are much more interesting than Hollywood actors. I’d rather watch my friends and family uncomfortably recite a line than watch a professional, oscar-worthy performance.
Of course, with more money, we could afford more lights and better sound. But I think we do quite well with our limitations.
Our movies don’t look “professional.” But lately, professional in Hollywood means that it was filmed in front of a green screen. Our movies are proudly unprofessional, filmed in the backyards and living rooms of real people.
Noise: You’ve had showings of Slingshot Cops in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and California. How long will continue to search for theaters that will play your film?
Matt: We don’t have additional plans after December. But we will definitely do more local screenings of Slingshot Cops, and our older movies as well. Next year is the 10-year anniversary of Freaky Farley. The Motern Media website has includes most of the movies we’ve made over the years.
Noise: What do you have to go through to get these screenings to happen?
Matt: We have just rented out the venues. We try to at least make our money back by selling DVDs and Blu-Rays. But even if we lose a little money, it’s worth it just to show a homemade movie on a big screen!
Noise: Can you give Noise readers a summary of Slingshot Cops without giving too much away? And who some of the main characters are in real life.
Matt: Slingshot Cops is a homemade buddy-cop movie. It tells the story of a brash young cop who partners with a seasoned veteran cop to bring down a fireworks syndicate… until they come across a far more sinister evil in their small town!
My uncle, Jim McHugh plays the older cop.
My dad, Jim Farley plays the commissioner.
My former supervisor at work, Kevin McGee plays the town doctor.
My wife, Elizabeth Farley plays the town folk singer.
Basically, everyone I meet is invited to be in my movies! If they accept the invitation and show up for filming, then we keep using them in subsequent movies!
Noise: Tell me about the next film you are planning.
Matt: The next movie is called Horror at the Hootenanny Hideaway. It’s about a restaurant/ music venue that is cursed. If an employee quits working there… they DIE! We are going to turn my garage into the restaurant. It’s the same garage that we used to film all the police station scenes in Slingshot Cops.
Noise: Are there any other creative things you do that I haven’t brought up yet?
Matt: I put out a monthly, handwritten, photocopied newsletter that’s mailed out to 40 subscribers. It’s called The Long Walk Newsletter. It’s filled with articles about adventures that people have during their walks!
I’m a big long walker. I’ve done dozens of walks of 30 miles and more. It’s great, and possibly helpful to creativity!
Noise: Well, thank you Matt. Good luck with your future movies, songs, and hope you inspire more people to hop out of the box with their creativity.