Award-winning filmmaker Matthew McCaulley shares his journey with INFLUX Magazine

by Gordon Shelly

Matthew McCaulley was an aerospace engineer for Lockheed Martin and then a computer programmer, but then something changed. Matthew McCauley became inspired and sought to become a filmmaker–which he did. But I’ll let Matthew tell his story, in his words. 

INFLUX: Tell us about your journey. How did this all happen for you?

MATTHEW: Once upon a time (in another part of the country far, far away) I was an aerospace engineer for Lockheed Martin. After that, I did a brief 12-year stint as a computer programmer. But I always longed to exercise the creative side of my brain. There was just something in there that needed to come out. Seven words transitioned me to filmmaking, “It’s OK but it could be better.” Words of the director at a local homeless shelter after shooting a short handy-cam video for them. It’s like something snapped in my head when he said that, I had to become a filmmaker and learn everything, and fast. Nine years later, I am a full-time professional filmmaker working primarily as an editor in the commercial space… and our (our production company Light of Life Films) first feature film unDEFILED has just become available to the world!

INFLUX: What are you currently working on that you can share with us?

MATTHEW: That’s a loaded question! Officially, I am in a season of marketing and promotion for unDEFILED. Secretly, I am working on our next feature film (gasps and looks of horror from everyone who has endured the five years it took to complete unDEFILED). One of the things drilled into my head during this process is to not just make a film that you love and are passionate about, but to make a film that is marketable. Otherwise, it is a home video because very few people will see this thing you invested your life in. The two requirements can co-exist, but it needs to be done carefully taking a lot of things into consideration. Things that aren’t fun for filmmakers to talk about, like distribution, sales, genre selection, etc. The next project will consider all of that upfront instead of just launching into a story that we think is cool.

INFLUX: What are your hopes and goals for unDEFILED?

MATTHEW: I learned so much making unDEFILED. All of that knowledge has led to a near book of thoughts on HOW to make a film… for far less money and avoiding almost all major obstacles (the kind that stop you for years) and to do both of these while simultaneously skyrocketing production quality. It can be done. There are amazing folks out there doing it now. I’m not so concerned about WHAT the next story is right now as much as how to construct a better framework to produce it in.

INFLUX: What have been your greatest challenges as an indie filmmaker?

MATTHEW: With the producer hat on, the biggest challenges have come from taking on way too much, way too soon. Kind of like jumping in the deep end… uh… Pacific Ocean…. and then learning how to swim. So much of producing on a larger scale was OJT with no mentor, no formal instruction, and no safety net. Very stressful, very stressful.

INFLUX: What has been your most significant accomplishment on this filmmaking journey so far?

MATTHEW: That would have to be our first feature, unDEFILED. It took 5+ years to produce end-to-end and I made every conceivable mistake along the way. Yet, it is available now for the world to see. You can catch it now on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and AppleTV, and soon on other streamers as well.

INFLUX: Tell us about some of your past projects and where we can watch them if they’re available?

MATTHEW: We produced a 17-minute short film in 2017 that was somewhat of a testbed for doing larger projects. We wanted to gain experience with all aspects of filmmaking on a larger scale. We eventually learned that a short film is not just a mini feature film, in fact, a feature is *exponentially* more difficult to produce. That said, the skills you take away from a high production value/higher budget short are priceless.

INFLUX: What goals to you have for yourself moving forward?

MATTHEW: Our first feature film, unDEFILED, has a lot of great positives (Thank you SoCal film awards for recognizing them!). But my goal with each new project is to have a roadmap of what to improve on from the very start. I also like to add some new scary challenges to the mix for any new project. With unDEFILED we filmed in another state 12 hours away with a big location (historic Luther Williams Field, used in movies such as 42 and Trouble with the Curve). My filmmaking goal moving forward is to never be comfortable or have a “norm.” to always push myself and my production team to think way outside the box.

INFLUX: What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out?

MATTHEW: I’m 50+ so I have a hard time remembering my younger self (LOL). I’ve done so much stuff in my life, from designing fighter jets to being a pilot to programming for a part of the LEGO corporation. . . I just wish I’d found filmmaking sooner. It fits my personality and skillset perfectly. I’d tell that young guy to not worry about doing something because it was important or made me feel important, but instead to seek out only what God had put in my heart to do.

INFLUX: Is there an interesting fact about your award-winning feature film you would like to share?

MATTHEW: Since unDEFILED handles a few issues in this world that are hard to talk about, we collaborated with another organization to develop video resources that can help answer questions about what was seen in the film. These resources are available at


You can watch The Substitute now at