When Matt Ogens started college at Tulane, he was in the business school. But over the course of his studies, he realized that business wasn’t really for him.
“I decided I really wanted to focus on film,” Ogens said.
Friends of his were not surprised by his realization.
“When everyone went out, he would just sit in his room watching movies,” said Brad Glickman, a friend and fraternity brother.
Film schools weren’t as prevalent as they are now, said Ogens, so he had to explore other options. He started working at a now defunct film magazine called “Shot in La.”
Ogens, a 1991 graduate of Bullis and former Potomac resident, decided to buy some books and figure out how to make a film on his own. “No one taught me,” he said.
He visited some prisons in the area, and did a documentary on violent crime. “I put together this documentary, just on my own,” Ogens said.
After completing that first project, he never looked back. He found work as a production assistant and has moved on to direct some documentaries. “I spent a lot of time working my way up,” Ogens said. “But you don’t just move up the line.”
He moved to New York and started making connections. “He personable. He can get out there and make a name for himself,” Glickman said.
Ogens finds the business requires being personable. “Twenty-five percent is creativity and 75 percent is just getting your name out there,” he said. “It’s all whatever your last project is.”
His current project, called “Who’s Got Game” airs on MTV. This show, which Ogens said is produced by Magic Johnson, follows the lives of 12 basketball players. “They lived in a hostel in Harlem,” Ogens said.
One of his most recent projects is part of a series on ESPN called “The Life.” The series focuses on athletes’’ lives off the court. “I don’t call the stuff I work on reality, I call it documentary,” Ogens said.
He’s also directed projects for VH1, and directed other short films including several award winners.
His documentary work is really just another step toward his real goal, directing feature films, which he thinks will be comparatively easier.
“In a feature film, your directing actors and telling a story,” Ogens said. “With a movie, there’s a script.”
Telling a story seems to be one of the forces driving him. Ogens is currently working on a screenplay of his own and is planning a move to Los Angeles to further his career, but he is keeping his hometown in mind. “I think it’s a great place to live,” he said.
He considers Potomac as a possibility for future projects. “I’d love to write a script that takes place in Potomac and shoot it in Potomac,” Ogens said.
If he were to develop such a film, however, it might surprise some residents. Ogens characterizes his work as darkly comic, and believes he would explore a side of Potomac that many residents wouldn’t know about.
“There’s a dark side to everything,” he said.