Filmmaker balances 'out' role with thought-provoking projects

After scoring favorable reviews everywhere fromMySpace to the Nashville Scene for his film work, actor/writer/director Matt Riddlehoover admits he’s not sure what’s going to be next.

But given his newest project, the art documentary “Gaze,” it’s a safe bet that his career will continue to evolve in interesting and unique ways. 

Riddlehoover made his mark in 2006 with a romantic drama, “To a Tee,” which he made while living in Nashville and attending Watkins Film School. The movie’s trailer became an online favorite, and led to heightened exposure for his subsequent efforts, including the Steve Balderson-directed “Watch Out,” where Riddlehoover worked in front of the camera in the lead role.

All the work led to a recent relocation to Los Angeles, but Nashville remains a cultural touchstone for the artist in many ways, he says.

“I loved making movies in Nashville, and who knows? A lot of my good friends live there, and a lot of actors I’ve worked with are still there, so I may shoot another movie there in the future,” Riddlehoover said. “There are definitely things I want to do, and some of them could happen there.”

While living and working in Music City, he scored a reputation as a daring, out filmmaker, but would prefer that the focus be on the art.

“I happen to be gay, and sometimes that is reflected in my work,” he said. “Sometimes it isn’t. As a gay man there are certain stories that I have to tell that other filmmakers can’t, but I don’t think that making a film, or doing some acting, that is set apart from gay film is selling myself short.”

By not limiting his work to gay-themed materials, he has explored areas that turned out to be, well, gay. And that’s fine, as long as the sexual identity issue is part of the journey, and not the focus.

“When I began work on “Gaze” it was to focus on visual arts, illustrations, things that have always interested me,” he said. “I thought it would be neat to explore some other work for a while, so I sent out invitations to about 30 artists and narrowed it down to 20 for the documentary. The interviews are juxtaposed with the artwork, and it’s been quite a challenge. And it just so happens that the 20 artists whose work I’m exploring all happen to be gay — but it doesn’t define all of their work.”

This and his other projects have allowed him to delve into sexual identity at a lot of different levels, and Riddlehoover says that aspect of being a gay filmmaker will continue to challenge him as he goes forward.

“One the one hand, if we don’t tell our stories, then who will?" he said. "And on the other hand, not necessarily everything I do is going to be gay because that isn’t all that defines me."

See Matt's work at


Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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