Depleted Memories of Norm Mathews…

Steven "Norm" Mathews

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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,

Jeremy