Getting Real with Motion Designer, Matt McLelland

Director, Producer, Motion Designer, Musician, creatively the man can do it all.  I first met Matt while doing hair & makeup on a tourism commercial deep in the red rocks of Saint George, Utah.  He was the man with the vision, the director, and an awesome vision it was.  It was a great shoot, great crew, fun memories and an awesome finished product.  His out-of-the-box creativity drew me in immediately and we became instant friends, and when, at the wrap party a week later, he started jamming on the restaurant keyboard like music was his native tongue, not english, playing like his fingers were feather-light magical conduits between realms, well, needless to say it was the icing on the worship cake – I kinda sorta wanted to be him.

Matt recently moved to LA where he agreed to participate in our Q&A series about awesome amazing artist-types who seriously impress – not that I told him that, he’s way too humble, he thinks this is for my nine-year-old’s school report, mwa-ar-arrrr…  Just kidding.  Not about the humble bit.  This dude’s seriously modest about his talents and accomplishments which I believe comes in part from being a perfectionist (where no matter how praised your creation is, all you can see is where you would make it better the next time.)

Thanks for sharing, Matt.  So tell us, what does the start of your day look like?

I love the mornings… (and I thought we had so much in common…)  I hate getting out of bed, (that’s more like it – the honest, raw, brutal truth of the tortured artistic soul…) but once I’m up I’m usually pretty happy (!) -music is a big part of how I wake up.  It’s often the first thing I do – click ‘play’ on some device near me.

So what tunes are cranking as you head to the office or the set or whatever exciting project you’re working on?

I’m a Spotify junkie.  Most of the time I’m multitasking while I listen to music – getting dressed, making coffee, trying to find my car keys, walking down the street or working. If I’m lucky enough to snap out of the tunnel-vision state of mind long enough to check who the artist actually is, then I add them to my playlists – I love finding new music, it makes my day so much better when I stumble upon a new track I love.

I’ve recently added to my ever growing playlist collections the Swedish electro band Little Dragon, (cool, just added “Twice” to my itunes) Emiliana Torrini, Ásgeir, The Dø, Caribou, St. Vincent, Jungle, and of course Thom Yorke and anything Justin Vernon puts out.

What is your go-to recipe after a long day?  

Everything in California seems to be some form of Kale.

I have been eating a lot of Kale.

(Like, fried up in butter? Nom, nom, nom…  No?  What do you mean that defeats the purpose of Kale?)

Well I bet you cancel out that Kale with caffeine – how much do you consume in an average creative day?

Too much, infact, this contributed to a recent ER visit where I gave birth to a kidney stone brought on by probably too much caffeine. Its a cute little stone though, I named it “L*TTLEF*#(ER” (LOL LOL oh dear I just wet myself – Ma-att!  Come on I’m getting old and my bladder isn’t what it used to be!) 

How do you make time to have fun with the fam?  Long days on set, big multi-media projects with crazy deadlines, it’s gotto be hard.

Yeah I’m currently away from my kiddos while living and working in LA, but in general I find that I have to plan the time for family-time just like I would a project.

Work can easily consume ones life and ultimately it’s the time with my family that gives me the energy to go back to the crazy hours.

I love spending time with my three girls.  I love listening, watching and learning about all the cool things they are discovering.

I’ve learned more about life from being a father than I have from pretty much anything else.

What is your outlet?

Riding my longboard, playing my guitar, exploring a new street, glancing at people on that street and making up stories about their lives and what they might be doing that day.

Do you handle stress?

Yeah by trying to manage my thoughts. I talk to myself a lot inside my head, trying to de-escalate my stress level by looking for the silver lining. There are usually a few things to be happy about in any given situation. Ultimately, I can only do my very best each day. I try not to worry about what I can’t control.

What feeds your soul?

Searching for the sunshine and standing in it, playing my guitar or taking a walk around the block.

If that doesn’t work then a beer does the trick 🙂

Your favorite creation?

In all honesty, there isn’t much that I’ve created that I can look back on and say “you know what, I’m really proud of that” (you bloody perfectionist),

I tend to be really critical of my work with three exceptions – my most incredible creations – my daughters.

(Yeah, I hear you.)  I am continually blown away by their minds, their creativity and their talents. I don’t tire of watching them or listening to them.

To see some of the talents I was given be manifest and furthered through their developing minds is about the coolest feeling I’ve ever been apart of.


Who has inspired you the most and why?

I’m inspired by those I read about or meet that are able to be open about the trials they are enduring in their life and are still able to create, have a positive outlook, laugh and smile. So many people are too concerned at how they appear to others. We are all experiencing some kind of opportunity to grow. I’m inspired by transparency and honesty.

What are your top three, all-time favorite books?

I recently read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, I thought that was very inspiring read on how to overcome creative roadblocks. I can’t really comment on the other two because I think they’re password hints to some of my online accounts 🙂

What are you reading at the moment?

Me: This collection of short stories about dreams, hopes, and desires.

You: You mean Tinder Profiles?

Me:  Yes.

What achievement or moment in your career are you most proud of to date?

Upon first moving to LA I landed with a really cool studio where I was given the task of creating animations for 2 of the three performances at the 2015 People’s Choice Awards, Lady Antebellum and Iggy Azalea. Not only did I get to create the animations, but was given a near front row seat to the award show where I got to see my work LIVE. It was pretty surreal and something I won’t soon forget. The next morning Billboard Magazine released a cool review about Iggy’s performance and mentioned that she had delivered “the most visually arresting performance of the night.”  That was pretty cool.

Also while working at Framestore LA I was a part of the team that created a series of commercials starring Jeff Goldblum for  They were pretty fun and interesting to do too.

What are you stoked about at the moment?

That I’m being interviewed by the incredibly talented J.F. Bailey – Your talent blows my mind..seriously I love you.  (Oh don’t stop…)

What is the best joke in your repertoire?

Q: Why can’t you hear rabbits mate.

A: Cause they have cotton balls.

(Ahrg, me bladder! LOL!)

Where will the next year see you?

This is the exciting part, I truly have no idea. Everyday, each project is a new adventure to be had. I just hope I’m lucky enough to continue working at my craft and having opportunities to learn and grow. You will most likely find me somewhere between LA and San Francisco.

Please share some words of wisdom that you’ve learned as a direct result of your artistic journey.

I think the best thing I could say is to just continue to produce work, do not let the moments of self doubt overcome you. Be critical of your work but only enough to motivate you to try hard to improve,

look for ways to become better, stronger, faster, but also enjoy the small moments of success… though few and far between for most of us, they add up to a lifetime of fantastic experiences.


Learn more about Matt:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *