After a few years he got the job of head of security at the then brand
new Channel 10 at Como in Toorak. A chance meeting with Riccardo Pellizzeri had Matt introduced to legendary casting
director Jan Russ at Neighbours. Matt auditioned for a few small roles and
got his first job on Neighbours as an extra. Wanting more from acting he
joined the National Theatre Drama school but left after the first year due to
a lack of honesty in his acting.
While committing himself to a new life in the arts, Matt got some
amazing roles opposite leading Australian and international actors including:
Gregory Peck, Patrick Stewart, Ted Levine, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Jackman,
Nicholas Cage, Anthony Lapaglia, David Wenham,
Sigrid Thornton, Peter Phelps, Rebecca Gibney and many others. It was working
with these actors that gave Norman the want to tell
his own stories. One of Norman’s first film roles was on Robert
Connolly’s The Bank. "Watching Connolly work it gave me a
want to see it from the other side of the camera. I’d watched how things were
done a million times, but never studied every move. Connolly had the perfect
technique working with actors and it was something I wanted to do.."
Matt says "I have studied enough movies in my life to give it a
red hot go and had been on hundreds of sets to know what everyone does, so
going to film school wasn’t even a factor for me. I did it the hard way but I
believe the best way, I just went out and made films".
Matt’s first Directing job was on a play called August Rain.
Matt says "I put my hand up to direct it so that I could spend weeks
practicing the art of communicating with actors. The play had a sold out
season and was the real turning point for what I really wanted to do. Now it
was time to give it my all behind a camera".
All the kings
Matt’s first film was an ambitious project that required very focused
actors. The film was a 27 minute short feature called All the kings
horses starring John Brumpton and John Flaus. The film got selected for many film festivals both
here in Australia and also overseas. It also won several awards and gave Matt
his first credits as writer, director, producer and editor.
Matt’s next film in the same year (2004) was Shank. A
short film for Tropfest starring Rob Carlton and
himself. It got selected as part of the "Best of the Rest" in Tropfest and went on to win other awards nationally and
Matt says "I had made two films that both did well… I didn’t want
to be one of the directors that did hundreds of short films so that they
could be the popular one standing by the bar at film festivals… I wanted to
shoot higher and I wanted it now!!!"
Matt Norman then wrote The Writer. A psychological
thriller. He wrote the film FOR Kim Gyngell in the lead role. "I always
saw Kim as an underrated actor. Why on earth weren’t people using his skill
in drama instead of constantly giving him comedy. If you ever saw Kim Gyngell
in an MTC play you’d know that he has an incredible range, and I wanted me
some of that".
The Writer – starring Kim Gyngell,
Mel Butel, Rob Carlton, Krista Vendy and John Flaus was a 37 minute Short feature. It
picked up some great awards for Matt and also cast and crew. Kim Gyngell won
"best actor" at the St Kilda Film Festival on its release in 2005
which was a great moment for all of us. Apart from "best film"
awards, it also won Marty Smith the Gold Award at ACS as well as an APRA
Nomination for composer Ricky Edwards. Finally it ended up being bootlegged
and screened in cinema’s in Japan and then on TV in Paris.
Two weeks after shooting The Writer Matt decided to
quickly throw together one last short film called The Umbrella Men starring
Underbelly’s Damian Walshe-Howling and Benji McNair. A short war film that
certainly got a lot of attention for its beautiful look and exceptional
acting from both Damian and Benji. "The pair of them were riverting" Matt said. "What made this film so
special was I wrote it one night after a dream (most of my films are written
that way), called the actors the following day, called the crew at the same
time, shot it in one day and had it fully edited ready for festivals two days
later. I’ve learnt a lot about keeping budgets low and quality high. It was a
In 2002, I began researching my uncle Peter Norman who was involved in
the Black Power Salute of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He was the WHITE GUY
in the photo!! I was amazed that no Australians knew his story. I started out
wanting to research him properly and on the way obviously make a "MAKING
OF" for the DVD release. The film I wanted to do as a first feature was
called 1968. Because of the extraordinary footage of all people
involved both here in Australia as well as in the United States it became
obvious that I had the perfect Documentary feature.
I continued making the film, called Salute, from 2002
through to 2008. Tragically my uncle Peter died during the making of the film
in 2006 with affected me greatly. It was at that stage that I received
funding from the FFC. From my uncle’s death and the
fact that his name was World news especially in the U.S I got offers from
different people to help get it to the big screen.
Paramount Pictures distributed the film across Australia and it became
the 2008 number one Aussie Doco at the Australian Box office. It has also won
several international awards at festivals and was released across
the United States and Europe. It is amazing to note that audiences loved it and it actually got a release. It won "Best Aussie
Doco" (Audience Choice) at Sydney Film Festival, and was nominated as
"Best Documentary" by the Australian film critics circle association
and obviously out did most Australian films at the box office when it came in
at number 10 for any Australian film at the Aus box office. So I was happy.
Next on the cards for Norman is the drama version
of Salute called 1968. Heath Ledger had been in
discussions with Norman to play his uncle. His death really stopped our
World. He was an incredible actor and will be sadly missed. Norman has signed
with two Hollywood Executive Producers to make the film in the USA, Mexico
and Australia sometime in 2020 or beyond.
Matt is the founder and CEO of Wingman Pictures International Pty Ltd, a
self-reliant production and post production facility.