Phoenix is hot, and I cruise on two wheels. This is sometimes an adventure heading to places I have never been being guided by GPS that cannot take me to exact locations. Sometimes I just park and wander around. Such was the case the other day heading down to The Garden Phx, Matty Steinkamp’s creative space and studio in Phoenix, to FanBoy Out with the amazingly creative filmmaker.
Matty Steinkamp is a force in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a force for change. He is a force for artist responsibility. He is a force for the evolution of the artist economy. But that is a lot to try to wrap your head around, especially when the art world is really anything but linear. We have our fingers in a million pies, there are always a gazillion moving parts, and somehow, the director is like this ring leader, circus performer, lion tamer, juggler… who somehow manages to not drop everything.
Matty’s creative space, The Garden Phx, is a work in progress. It is a diamond in the rough. It is going to be the home of some really amazing new art endeavors here in the Valley of the Sun. It is fresh. It is still, really…. Top secret. It was cool to be invited into a place that has so much amazing energy, just waiting to be tapped and turned into liquid potential! I love finding people in this community that GET IT. That understand it is by combining talents, working together, and putting our visions to work TOGETHER that we find that success. Matty is a force for that change, and he is doing it in a few really special ways. Let’s #FanboyFriday out on then, shall we?
#FanboyFriday FEATURE – Matty Steinkamp – THE FORCE
Mango Skies are a creative production company specializing in documentary films. Based in Arizona, Mango Skies are a collective of creatives, makers, builders, and organizers. Their mission? To create films and multi media projects that make a positive impact on our community.
Like – Just For a Moment
Mango Skies has been creating memorable films since 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Today, they focus on elevating their community and collaborators around the world with fresh new ways of storytelling. Not only have their films been featured on streaming giants like Amazon Prime, but they have also been featured on programs from ESPN, USA Today, PBS, The Young Turks, NPR, MSNBC, and more than 20 college campuses through discussion screenings!
We talked about being an artist, a storyteller, in a world on fire. “Matty”, I asked him, “this world is just crazy, and I really wanted to get your take on being a creative in this place where the decisions we make have these massive implications. Especially here in Arizona where everything has become political, divisive, and angry! How do we combat that? Being in an art community turns every city into a small town, and it is so much more than can’t we all just get along, or we can disagree and still be friends. People have shown themselves to be quite colorful. Many of us have discovered things about our friends that would have kept us from becoming friends in the first place. And division happens. Anger happens. Hate happens. How do we move forward as creatives, in this world that is just hell bent on ripping us apart?”
“Patience. Patience and compassion. I find it really important to take a step back and try to remember people and the world when every single thing was not a political issue. The perfect example is smoking in public venues. Think about that movement happening now! Communities gathered together, over a public heath concern, and smoking in public spaces became a thing of the past. That is huge when you think about change, and when you think about what has changed from then… to now. People need to realize that you cannot have an art scene without artist responsibility. Cocaine is another wonderful example. Cocaine is killing people. Cocaine has killed several of my personal friends in just recent years. Supporting the art community means not giving rise to drug celebration and the myths of lifestyle. You cannot participate in a community while contributing to systemic issues.”Matty Steinkamp
We talked about the power of the storyteller, leadership, and support in a creative community. Matty gave me a great example.
“When we were working on You Racist, Sexist, Bigot – the idea was floated about doing a drag queen show that would benefit the film, but there is no way, I, the straight Irish filmmaker could run point on that endeavor! That was not the time to run point, without looking like I was capitalizing on a community. And that perception is very important when you are working with various communities, marginalized communities, or communities that are used to being exploited. But what true leaders can understand about this environment is that it is a perfect opportunity to make this not about you. It is a perfect opportunity to allow others to control that narrative, tell that story, and it allows you, the creative engine, to take on a supporting role. Sometimes knowing when to take the leadership role or the supporting role makes all the difference. So, a good friend who was involved in the film, and a staple of the Phoenix Drag Community did the fundraiser. She organized it. She spearheaded it. It was wonderful to support her, and allow her to shine in that moment. And her efforts helped Mango Skies raise over 10,000 dollars for our film.”Matty Steinkamp
The storyteller matters. The lens needs to see. The story must be told. And if you are the storyteller, you chase the story. But the way that we tell those stories, the care we take to nurture their subjects, work with their subjects, and not subjugate those characters, those struggles, those stories…. That is compassion. It works in all the ways that we work together as human beings. Compassion and Patience… paves the way to Love and Understanding.
We talked about Indie Film Fest, Fiction, and Markus Knight.
Kash Cole is one of the amazing creative people attached and working with Matty at The Garden Phoenix. Not only is he one of the long time leaders (with the man, Zeedub) of the local hip hop group The Stakes, AND (The Stakes are with BLACK CARL and PAO folks…. in a few weeks!) but they are also behind The Crescent Ballroom Groove Theory events. Kash has been a staple in Phoenix music, for years, but with Matty and The Garden, they are moving into whole new realms of amazing!
They are working hard to not only get their space ready for public events, but making those events something that will be special in our Valley of the Sun. A full theater experience viewing area is in the works. A monthly Open Mic/ Hip Hop/ Poetry Event is in the works. And…. Mango Skies first foray into fictional film making is making waves.
Kash wrote the story, the music, co stars in, and conceived of the vision for Markus Knight: a superhero prequel, staring his son Kelil Cole in the title role. Matty is excited to be directing his first piece of fiction. As far as a creative collaboration, both men are moving in new and exciting directions and are at the top of their creative game.
“Fiction in film is the epoch of creative storytelling. It is the goal, it is everything that I am working towards”.Matty Steinkamp
Mango Skies is for the first time 100% Commercial Free, 100% real estate community free, we are finally focusing completely on our community driven documentaries and moving into the realm of fictional storytelling.
To say this is not exciting to the film director himself, is a vast understatement. Hard at work right now on filming a virtual reality immersive Irish experience for the Irish Cultural Festival, his eyes gleamed when our conversation turned to fictional filmmaking. “Everything I am doing with the Irish history story right now,” he said, “is background. It is the 400 years of Irish history, folklore, Fae myth and tales that are required by the backstory of The Stone of Maggie.”(Matty’s Irish Baby, a trilogy epic tale of Old Ireland. My friends….. If Matty Steinkamp were compared to J.R.R.Tolkien… what he is doing right now…. Is The Silmarrillion to where he is going.
I cannot wait to see the future under these MANGO SKIES!
Leaving The Garden Phx, I felt almost like I was stepping out of a magical portal, back into the heat and the sweat and the grind of the Phoenix sun. Like I was leaving a safe space, a space locked out of time and conflict, surrounded by beauty and inspiration and just waiting to be the Creative Space that will allow artists to flourish and grow that it is destined to be. Matty, his team of directors, and Kash with his amazing story, his amazing lyrics, and his beautiful energy is getting ready to unveil a gem to the Phoenix Community.
Folks. The power of community is responsibility. Collaboration. A fundamental focus on changing the economy of the arts, and working together to foster the growth of our artists. I am doing it with Hookworm. Dani Cutler is doing it at KWSS and Dani Cutler Content Creations LLC. Matty Steinkamp is doing it at Mango Skies. Adam Carter is doing it at The Wayback Sessions. Hope and Bo Awesome are doing it at The Arizona 411. #TogetherWeRise.
Arizona, do not be sleeping on Mango Skies Productions !
Keep The Greasy Side Down, Amigos