Matthew Lessner

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Matthew Lessner
Chapel Perilous Wins the 2014 Shorts Audience Award (12186010895).jpg
Matthew Lessner at the Sundance 2014 Awards Ceremony
Born Walnut Creek, California
Nationality American
Occupation Filmmaker
Notable work Chapel Perilous, The Woods, By Modern Measure, Darling Darling,

Matthew Lessner is an award-winning artist [1] and independent filmmaker.[2]


Born in Walnut Creek, California,[3] Lessner was raised in Roseburg, Oregon, where he attended Roseburg High School.[2][4] He graduated in 2005 from Chapman University, where he studied film.[5]

Short films[edit]

Lessner's directorial debut was the 2005 short film Darling Darling starring Michael Cera, which screened at over 30 film festivals worldwide [6] including the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, Comedia, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival where Lessner won the Tom Berman Most Promising Filmmaker Award.[7] The film is included on the sixth issue of Wholphin DVD magazine with alternate audio versions by John Cleese and Daniel Handler.[8] Darling Darling was included the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival's Retrospective 2014: the twenty-first century American short films.[9]

Lessner's second short film, By Modern Measure, premiered at South by Southwest[10] and screened at 30 film festivals [11] including the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.[12] In January 2011 the Sundance Institute released "By Modern Measure" on The YouTube Screening room as part of its Sundance Film Festival Classics series.[13]

His third short film, Chapel Perilous featuring Sun Araw was an official selection at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival [14] where it won the Short Film Audience Award.[15] The film premiered internationally at the Stockholm Film Festival.[16] In March 2014 Chapel Perilous was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.[17]

Feature films[edit]

In August 2008, Lessner began work on his first feature film The Woods, which was filmed in the woods around Lookingglass, Oregon.[2][4] The Woods was invited to world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.[18] The film made history as the first film to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival that used Kickstarter for production financing.[19] The Woods premiered in New York at the BAMcinemaFest held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[20] The Woods premiered internationally at the Cologne Conference in Cologne, Germany.[21]

In August 2011, Lessner was awarded a San Francisco Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grant for screenwriting in support of feature film tentatively titled Terror Tuesday.[22] In May 2012, Lessner was awarded an additional San Francisco Film Society and Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grant for development of the feature tentatively titled Terror Tuesday.[14][23]


In April 2016, Champis Solutions, a solo installation by Lessner opened at Nevven Gallery in Gothenburg, Sweden. Champis Solutions was Phase Two in the ongoing Seven Phase project titled In Anticipation of the Unexpected.[24]

Music videos[edit]

Lessner has directed over a dozen music videos including for the Dirty Projectors' single "Stillness is the Move" which was ranked one of the best music videos of 2009 by Stereogum.[25][26] He also directed the video Fool's Gold's "Surprise Hotel".[27]


Lessner directed and produced several videos for BBC Collective with bands including Black Dice and The Fiery Furnaces.[28][29][30]

In 2011 Lessner created and directed the web series "Make a Friend" for the French website Konbini.[31][32][33]


Lessner contributed lyrics to 6 of the 8 tracks on Lydia Ainsworth's debut album Right From Real, which was released on Arbutus Records in 2014 and was a shortlist nominee for the Juno Award for the Electronic Album of the Year.[34][35] Additionally he directed the music video for Ainsworth's single Malachite, which Stereogum voted video of the week in June 2014.[36][37][38][39]

Lessner has collaborated with Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw who contributed a cover of Neil Young's 'Thrasher' to the soundtrack for The Woods.[40] In 2009 they released Sun Araw featuring Matthew Lessner - In Orbit through stunned records.[41]

Lessner and his younger sister Sophia Lessner have collaborated on a musical project called Masons . They released their first tape In the Basement of the Temple through Stunned Records in 2008.[42]

Other work[edit]

Lessner's photographs have been featured in multiple publications including The Sun Magazine.[43]

In the spring of 2008 Lessner worked as an intern for syndicated news program Democracy Now! [44]


Year Title Format
2005 Darling Darling Short Film
2007 By Modern Measure Short Film
2011 The Woods Feature Film
2013 Chapel Perilous Short Film
2017 Automatic at Sea Feature Film
(unknown) Terror Tuesday Feature Film

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Title Band Label
2009 "Set in Stone" Fires of Rome The Hours Records
2009 "Set in Stone" M83 Remix Fires of Rome The Hours Records
2009 "Stillness is the Move" Dirty Projectors Domino Records
2009 "Surprise Hotel" Fool's Gold IAMSOUND Records
2009 "Last Dance" The Raveonettes Vice Records
2009 "Early Warnings" Foreign Born Secretly Canadian
2010 "Forgive Me" Le Loup Hardly Art
2010 "World News" Local Natives Frenchkiss Records
2010 "Neverest" Hey Champ Townie Records
2012 "Marathon Runner" Yellow Ostrich Barsuk Records
2014 "Solo Wallet Shuffle" Sun Araw Drag City
2014 "Malachite" Lydia Ainsworth Arbutus


Year Subject Title Format
2010 Dirty Projectors + Björk Mount Wittenberg Orca I, II, III, V VI Album Trailers
2011 Explosions in the Sky "Last Known Surroundings" Video Installation


  2. ^ a b c Pallone, Cara (July 31, 2008). "RHS Grad to film locally". The News-Review. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Utopia Unplugged". Film Stew. August 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  5. ^ Dodge College alumni make Sundance debut
  6. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Everleth, Mike (August 16, 2007). "Darling Darling". Underground Film Journal. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  8. ^ "Wolphin No. 6". Wolphin: A DVD Magazine of Unseen Films. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  9. ^ "39e Festival International du Court Métrage". 
  10. ^ "Film Screening - By Modern Measure". South By Southwest. March 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  11. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "Film Screening - By Modern Measure". Sundance Film Festival. January 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-29. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Film Screening - The Woods". Sundance Film Festival. December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  19. ^ Miller, Daniel. "SUNDANCE: How 'The Woods' ' Unique Financing Model Could Shake Up the Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^,37&pageid=2348
  23. ^,37&pageid=2927
  24. ^
  25. ^ Breihan, Tom (July 16, 2009). "Director's Cut: Dirty Projectors: "Stillness is the Move"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  26. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ Breihan, Tom (September 24, 2009). "Video Premiere: Fool's Gold: "Surprise Hotel" (New Version)". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  28. ^
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  30. ^
  31. ^
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  33. ^
  34. ^ Exclaim! Magazine
  35. ^ Juno Awards
  36. ^
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External links[edit]