We recently interviewed Director Matt Smukler from Community Films. Matt’s directed hundreds of commercials and he’s known for capturing those small, intimate moments between people that can elevate any story in any medium. You can feel the familial comfort he draws out of his actors in the Cheerios commercial that premiered during Super Bowl XLVIII. The spot was also noted for being the first Cheerios commercial to feature an interracial family. We wanted to know how that spot came to be and more about his other work. This is what he had to say…
Was it a conscious decision to make the Cheerios spots interracial? Did that come about during casting and were you aware of the impact that might have?
Casting the Cheerios “Gracie” commercial, happened very organically. The mandate from General Mills was to cast a believable American family. Race didn’t matter. We were simply looking for the absolute best actors we could find. After seeing hundreds of actors, I had found an African American dad I loved, Malik Whitfield, and was looking for the perfect girl to play his daughter. When Grace Colbert auditioned, I immediately knew it had to be her.
How many short films have you directed?
I have directed 2 short films and I’m in the middle of a feature length documentary. The latest short film I wrote and directed is called “The Wake Up Call” about a traveling businessman. Things take an unexpected turn when he falls for the wake up call operator. Tribeca Films optioned it for their programming channel on United Airlines and it’s currently playing on international United Flights.
Favorite place you’ve visited and why?
One of the perks of being a director is traveling all over the world and experiencing life as a local. I’ve been shooting in Berlin recently and fell in love with the energy, the art, the food. But my favorite place I’ve visited this year would have to be Fire Island. No cars, lush stunning grasses we simply don’t have in Los Angeles, (daytime biting flies we also don’t have in Los Angeles but somehow this doesn’t matter when in paradise!) wonderful beaches and a swimmable bay. Evenings spent cooking dinners with friends and drinking Rose. It’s a magical place.
Favorite recent project:
A project I recently completed and enjoyed was for Deutsch Bahn. It’s Germany’s oldest and most popular railway. They were celebrating 25 years of connecting people and I shot a film for them about a soccer player and his biggest fan — his boyfriend. It was based on a recent professional German player coming out. We cast the 90 second film out of London and Berlin and had a brave client along side of us. It was a fantastic experience.
The internet shuts down in America, list three things you do as a result.
I pour myself a shot of tequila. Ponder what this means for Tinder. Rescue my encyclopedia Britannica from the attic.
Stay tuned for the next interview with EP Veronica Diaferia from tinygiant!
If you’d like us to feature someone in the industry on an upcoming Q&A, just let us know.