Matthew & Katherine Celia, Co-Directors of Off the Floor: 2014 Heartland Film Festival Interview

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Butter&Sugar (aka Katie and Matt Celia) are a husband & wife filmmaking team that love telling stories about dreamers and outsiders. Be it short films, commercials, or their first feature length documentary, the duo bring a dynamic sense of story to every piece. Butter&Sugar met at Chapman University in 2003 while pursuing a B.F.A. in Film Production and have been lunch buddies and co-conspirators ever since. Their short film Confessions of a Peepshow Junkie was recognized as a finalist in Kevin Spacey’s Triggerstreet Film Festival and their thesis project Beyond the Window racked up nominations for Best Undergraduate film, Best Direction, and Best Cinematography. They continued to collaborate with Katie producing and Matthew directing several web series pilots for Warner Bros, commercials, and short-form documentaries. Recently, they completed their first feature length documentary titled Off The Floor about a young woman struggling to find acceptance for her fusion of modern and pole dance styles.  The film held its world premiere in June 2014 and is currently screening at festivals around the country. Along with celebrating the success of their first film, this summer the Celias celebrated their third wedding anniversary. Butter&Sugar are represented by Heroes and Villains Entertainment.

HFF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?

KC: Off the Floor is a story about a dancer, Jessica Anderson-Gwin, who has a vision of combining modern dance with pole fitness. The film follows Jessica as she works to bring that vision to life, forming the first ever contemporary pole dance company, Jagged.

The project came about by being in the right place at the right time. We were invited by a close friend to the first performance by Jagged. We were definitely expecting something more erotic than artistic and were blown away by the show. This was a troupe of professional dancers, performing this incredible full-length dance show with a story and theme but using poles to add another dimension. It was like dancing on air. We just knew there was a great story, and we wanted to capture it.

HFF: What was your role in the production?

KC: We co-directed and produced the film. Matt also shot the majority of the film and edited it. In short, everything. Most days, the film crew was the two of us with little more than a Canon DSLR, a Rode mic, and on a great day, a Mole kit. Matt would be operating the camera, while I would be watching the room for interesting angles and scenes. I also made sure Matt didn’t get hit or kicked. We think it only happened once. Thankfully, dancers are very coordinated.

HFF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?

KC: Our producer Sean Barney remembered that Anvil: The Story of Anvil had played there so we checked it out. We loved the theme of the festival, and particularly with our film that’s all about changing minds and hearts, it made perfect sense. We’ve never been to the festival or Indianapolis, so we’re really excited to have a chance to go.

HFF: This year’s tagline is “Shift Your Perspective” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?

KC: We hope that our film shows audiences that pole dance has really evolved into an incredible art form and get a chance to see the insanely talented and driven women behind it.

HFF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker?

KC: Katie—It’s always been about connecting with others. It’s really cool to have made a film that touches and inspires people because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

MC:—I love the power of movies and have always been drawn to storytelling. I think I picked up my first camera when I was four and never wanted to let go.

HFF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now but you weren’t told when you started your career?

KC: It’s a marathon, not a race. Also film really is collaborative. There’s a point where you really need outside perspectives and help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it!

HFF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?

KC: Katie: Field of Dreams, Singin’ in the Rain, Clueless, Back to the Future, anything with the Muppets. I love feel good stuff. I’m still pretty obsessed with The Lego Movie and Frozen. Right now I’m either singing “Everything is Awesome”, “Let It Go”, or “Reindeers are Better than People”.

MC: Wow, so many amazing movies out there: Inception, There Will Be Blood, Gravity, Beasts of the Southern Wild – how I ended up with my wife is a total mystery, but I love a good comedy too.

HFF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?

KC: We’ve been in three festivals. We just love seeing the film in front of an audience!

HFF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?

KC: What’s it like to work together as a couple. We’re surprised no one’s asked us that yet!


See Off the Floor at the 2014 Heartland Film Festival:

  • Saturday, Oct. 18 – 5:00 pm at AMC Traders Point Showplace 12
  • Monday, Oct. 20 – 5:15 pm at AMC Traders Point Showplace 12
  • Wednesday, Oct. 22 – 4:30 pm at AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Thursday, Oct. 23 – 2:45 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
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