Depleted Memories of Norm Mathews…


Steven "Norm" Mathews

A Moment of Contemplation for Steven "Norm" Mathews on Depleted: Day 419...

His birth name may have been “Steven”, but I always knew him as “Norm.”  The nickname, apparently, had been given to him when he was at school in BCTC and, as great nicknames do, it just stuck.  He never told me whether it was due to the fact that his bustling personality at times reminded folks of “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf or whether his love of beer and his comfort in groups made him feel like a kindred spirit with Cheers’ perpetual fixture, Norm.  We who knew him seem to be equally divided on the subject.  (As I learned from his father after the memorial service, it was, in fact, for “Norm” from Cheers.  And it was actually appropriated by Steven, not in college, but in seventh grade.)

When I first met Norm, he was working on a short film called, “The Message,” which Eric Henninger had brought me in to co-direct.  He was 1st AD and I got to know his boisterous nature well through it.  He somehow managed to have packed a 42-year old’s personality into the body of a twenty-two-year-old.  After that film, he studied lighting and, when I was in the midst of shooting Nick Denney’s film, The Guardian, he came into replace our gaffer when she could not complete the film.  His desire to tweak things until they were as good as they could be allowed us to make the best possible film under the circumstances (The Guardian would go on to win second place in a national film competition) and his wry sense of humor helped keep people sane.

When I first told Norm about the World of Depleted earlier this year, he was quick to point out some of the areas that made no sense to him, forcing me to revise my narrative ideas into a more cohesive whole.  After that, he went from being skeptical of the Depleted concepts to being one of their greatest supporters.  When he relocated south before we could shoot the prologue to the film, he volunteered to come back so that he could serve as Gaffer on Day 419.   During the shoot, he insisted on flirting with our happily married art director, not because he was trying to be inappropriate, but because he knew there was no danger of anything being misconstrued.  Norm was one of those guys that, even at times when he was trying to act curmudgeonly, somehow managed to instead be endearing.

He so believed in the Depleted world and what we were striving to accomplish that, when it came to discussions of working on the feature film next year, he requested that he not be paid up front, but that he get a perpetual percentage of the back end.   In the world of low-budget films, that sort of belief in a film is humbling and precious!  With Norm’s tragic death last week only four days before his 25th birthday, he was denied the opportunity to work with us on the feature film. However, I wanted to share  with you, our friends and fans, some of the pictures of him from Depleted: Day 419, as we will keep his memory close in our hearts as we continue to explore the World of Depleted and strive to make it into the narrative work he believed it could be!

God bless,



  1. Posted by dave haney on 09 August 10 at 10:29pm

    I appreciated the short time I knew him. may his memory inspire others to reach out and touch others with their work…..Dave

  2. Posted by Kat Carney on 10 August 10 at 9:05pm

    I met Norm 3 years ago when I was 19. It wasn’t until I sat down on the couch with him for an hour one day that I decided that we would be friends. There are so many stories that I could share but there isn’t enough time or space to write them all. If you have ever worked with Norm and I on set you probably wouldn’t have guessed that he was one of my closest friends. We knew how to be best friends while still be professional on set together.
    Two years ago Norm lived with me in Louisville. Each day I would go off to work as a makeup artist and he would go work on sets for plays or work on some of his crazy videos. At the end of the day we would both meet back up at the apt and make dinner and drink wine and laugh all night, most of the time keeping our other roommate awake.
    He always made the best salads and sandwiches. One night even though I had to get up early the next day we spent hours listing to music and stepping on fiber glass in my room so we could create a work of art. We took super glue and glued all the clear plastic shards of our destruction together and then splattered it with paint. When we were together we were like two little kids seeing the world for the first time. Always talking about our hopes and dreams and the adventures we would have.
    One of my favorite memories with him was the time that we went camping together somewhere in Kentucky I still to this day don’t have a clue as to where we were. It was our roommate, our best friend B and 7 other people whom I didn’t know. We got to the place where we were going to set up camp and built a crazy bon fire and we all just sat around the fire telling stories and singing with our guitars.
    I was just over at his new apartment a few weeks ago admiring how he had become somewhat stable. Anyone who knew Norm knew him as a nomad. That’s just how he was. Always on the go. Never stopping never sitting in one place for too long, the man was always going somewhere. He was so proud to show someone his home and he loved having company. He was always the best host.
    The last time I saw Norm he had come over to my apartment and we sat on the couch drinking our girly wine for a few hours. We talked of life, love and our family. I am so thankful that I was able to tell him that I loved him and that we would always be friends.

  3. Posted by Jeremy Hanke on 11 August 10 at 12:09am


    That’s really beautiful. Now you make me tear up!

    We’ll be video recording some of these memories for the family and DVD in the future, so we’d love to have you share some of them there, as well!


  4. Posted by Yames on 27 May 11 at 4:28am

    Actually the name norm wa from middleschool his father Dave gave it to him! And yes it was from cheers :) I’m glad others got to know him I love him very much and am glad others were able to know him too :)

  5. Posted by Jeremy Hanke on 27 May 11 at 7:11pm

    Yames, it was tragic that I didn’t get to know him better, but I’m glad I got to know him as well as I did. Through the tragedy, I’ve gotten to know other members of his family and I’m extremely grateful for that! (In fact, Dave used to be school friends with my own father, which is a strangely surreal fact, considering I grew up on the other side of the continent.)

  6. Posted by matt on 05 August 13 at 1:15pm

    I’ve been norms best friend since freshman year of highschool. That man was my brother. I just wanted to thank you for this post. none of us appreciated him enough while he was here, but some of you film people got to see the polished side of him that he had worked so hard on. You got to see the man he was able to make himself into. you all helped him realize his dreams and i thank you for that. thank you so much.

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