"It was one of those secret promises I made as a teenager at Prospect High School," Matt Glasson said. "I'm going to make a feature film!"
And so he did.
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The Mount Prospect native and graduate from both Prospect High and Chicago's Columbia College has written and directed "Love Stalker," a dark, anti-romantic comedy about a serial dater who slowly becomes a sleazy stalker of women in St. Louis. He also stars in the film.
"Love Stalker" will play a one-week engagement Sept. 7 to 13 at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Glasson and fellow filmmaker Bowls MacLean and producer David P. Ohliger will conduct a question-and-answer session after the 8 p.m. presentation Friday.
That's an impressive accomplishment considering "Love Stalker" began as a 7-minute musical film short.
Back in 2009, MacLean and Glasson were given a line, a character, a prop and the dreaded choice of making either a musical or western short for St. Louis' 48 Hour Film Project. So, they wrote, shot and edited their film in a single weekend.
"This went really well," Glasson said from his New York home. "We wondered if we could do this in 48 hours, what could we do in four weeks? Bowls said 'Let's go for it!' We needed something really, really cheap. And we started bouncing ideas back and forth."
They dropped their original musical numbers from the short, expanded the plot and came up with the premise of a narcissistic barhopping player who gets a taste of his own distasteful medicine. It came along just in time for Glasson to fulfill his secret teen promise.
"I was getting this nagging sense that here I was in my 30s and I still didn't have a feature film under my belt," he said.
He and MacLean had an odd inspiration for their movie: Paul Schrader's "Auto-Focus," a dark drama charting how popular "Hogan's Heroes" star Bob Crane used his fame and boyish charm to seduce countless women while recording their activities with first generation video cameras. He was later murdered and his killer never brought to justice.
"We saw it many times and used it as a blueprint for our movie," Glasson said.
Because "Love Stalker" takes such a dark view of dating (and contains a couple of frank sexual encounters worthy of an R-rating), you might start to wonder about Glasson.
Don't. He's just a kid from the Northwest suburbs, and he thinks that gives him something special.
"I think I have excellent core values," he said. "I know that sounds like I'm just feeding you a line, but I truly believe that. If I was raised in New York, the things I would have been exposed to might have changed who I turned out to be.
"I went to church every Sunday at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights. I do believe that regardless of what ever religious affiliation you have, there are very good core values being instilled in the children who are being raised in the Midwest."
Glasson said that he was exposed to enough of the outside world to give him a hunger for something beyond suburbia.
"In my 20s, I had to leave to experience other walks of life, other places," he said. "The Northwest suburbs definitely gave me the tools I needed to navigate all my future endeavors."
His father, Jack Glasson, was a CPA. His mother, now Sally Tibbetts, was an artist.
"I think I got the best of both worlds," Glasson said. "I have my father's brain for organization, structure and math. I got my mother's more freewheeling nature and my artistic sensibilities."
Glasson lives in Brooklyn with two cats (one named after surrealistic artist Luis Bunuel). "They're like my kids. My little bundles of joy," he said.
He has never married, but has a girlfriend, Sara Reiss, who designed the romance websites used in "Love Stalker."
"I am what you call a serial monogamist," Glasson confessed. "I tend to go from one long relationship to another." Hardly anything like his movie character.
The writer/director/actor became aware of performing in junior high when he nabbed the lead in a "Tom Sawyer" musical.
"I really turned into quite a stage ham," he admitted.
At Prospect High, he frequently teamed up with his friend and classmate Scott Greene to create shorts shot with an old-fashioned VHS camcorder hooked up to a bulky old VCR.
"We started watching more films with keener eyes and reading critical analysis of filmmakers like Kubrick and Polanski," Glasson said. "Then came the realization that this is what I wanted to do in my life. Film is the perfect combination of all the arts."
Before making the leap into movies, Glasson created his own rock group God the Band, along with his partner Danny Rockett, better known to Northwest suburbanites as Daniel Robbins, a grad of Hersey High School in Arlington Heights. (They met on the bus to the All-State Choir contest in downstate Altamont.)
"During the 10 years we did God the Band, I was flirting with film- and video-making," Glasson said. "When the band ended, I realized it was time to make this stuff, this experience, work for me. Still missing in my life was my goal of doing a feature film."
Some promises you keep.
Especially the ones you make as a teen.
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make a good feature, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.