Matt Smythe’s “A Deliberate Life”

“It’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse.” –Charles Bukowski

When I think about my friend Matt Smythe I think of that line from Bukowski’s poem called The Shoelace. I’ve fished with Matt a few times and shared a Maker’s Mark or two with him and in my experience our conversations tend to sound exactly like his narration of the film he collaborated on called “A Deliberate Life.”

I call it Matt’s movie because I relate to it most through his eyes but it really came to pass via the joint efforts of him and Grant Taylor and the crew from Silo 4. By now most of you have probably seen the trailer posted above or watched the short version of the film at IF4.

I had the opportunity to view the full version and watching it reminds me of sharing a jon boat with Matt and realizing that he really did what the premise of the movie is about. It’s about real life, and holding that series of small tragedies at bay by following your passion. He actually did this, leaving the security of benefits and bi-monthly pay stubs that most of us cling to, to get after a life lived outdoors. And in doing that he actually did this, made a movie about five people who decided to go that way and see it through.

The cinematography is stellar and the subdued soundtrack enhances the reflective mood. Again, Matt’s narration sounds like having a conversation with him, while at the same time carrying a poetic rhythm that matches the visual flow of moving water. The film is in many ways set in the eternal present, this group of friends fishing together (in places we daydream about while typing on laptops) and talking to each other about how they all got to this point in their lives. I wish they all shared a little more about the before, about what they broke away from and some of the gritty details that led them to “a deliberate life.”

But then again, isn’t this what life was like before the dawn of social media, where everyone now feels compelled to share every detail about everything until mystery and discovery are choked away? This is what stories around a campfire used to be, revelatory yet at the same time incomplete. Maybe it’s enough to say, “I made a decision and I’m here.”

And the fact that they are “here” and not still “there” amidst the little tragedies–there’s satisfaction in that.

To get the full version of the movie, head on over to SILO4.

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