FAU Broward Campuses - Alumni Spotlight

Matthew Schlissel

Tuesday, Mar 01, 2022
Matthew Schlissel

Film Studies & Production | Class of 2012

Matthew Schlissel is a screenwriter based in Los Angeles who in 2012 received his BA in Film Studies and Production from the School of Communication & Multimedia Studies, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters. He earned a MFA in Screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he is an adjunct professor. "I was born in Plantation and raised in Fort Lauderdale. I am a true Broward boy,"he said. Schlissel has written and produced several festival-screening short films and a handful of feature film screenplays and TV pilots. Most notably, his latest comedy pilot, Grimsburg (with co-writer Catlan McClelland) sold to FOX as an animated comedy and is currently in development. He and McClelland serve as co-writers and co-producers.

Schlissel said he and McClelland came up with Grimsburg as a parody of dark Nordic noirs like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Killing, and The Bridge as "they all have troubled detectives, lots of dead bodies, and lots of snow."After many months of rewrites, they sold it to FOX. "The pilot ended up being more of a parody of small-town detective shows like True Detective and Twin Peaks. It’s an insanely exciting experience and we are looking forward to seeing the first season premiere next year,"he said. "I think viewers can expect to see a funny show that does a great job at making fun of the tropes we all know and love, such as a brooding detective, partners who have clashing personalities, a mayor who is always wrapped up in scandals as well as giving the audience a weird town they can enjoy visiting again and again."

Schlissel said he cherishes the time he spent at FAU Davie along with the film courses and the faculty such as Dr. Stephen Charbonneau. "He is single-handedly responsible for igniting the film-loving fire that continues to burn in my soul,"he said. "Dr. Charbonneau is an incredible teacher whose passion for film and filmmaking he passes along to all of his students. I also had Professor Briar March for documentary filmmaking. She was instrumental in helping me understand the importance of great editing. Additionally, I spent a lot of time as part of the Broward Student Government and I believe my time in that organization was helpful in my developing some leadership skills."


Schlissel’s favorite experience at FAU was creating a film club that is now known as Owl Films. "I loved the members of the club and the films we made during that time,"he said. "We put on a film festival to screen our short films and that was a memorable experience."At that time, Schlissel knew that if he wanted to pursue a career in screenwriting that he had to make the move to Los Angeles. "My plan was to apply to film school and wherever I got in is where I would go. I am very lucky I got into LMU. Not only was the program wonderful, but it taught me a ton about screenwriting and enabled me to make the move to Los Angeles."

His advice to FAU students who aspire to become filmmakers and screenwriters? "First: Create, create, create. Stop talking and start creating. Creating is the best way to learn and grow as a story teller. You will learn more than you could ever imagine while you are writing a script or directing a short film,"he said. "Second: Make friends with like-minded and supportive people as this is a business that can be tough and mean. Rejection is a constant and you do need to have a thick skin. I am very lucky that I have friends both at FAU and LMU that I consider to be best friends and trench-buddies that fight the good filmmaking fight with me."One of his friends is fellow FAU Broward graduate and filmmaker Verner Maldonado whom he teamed up with in 2015 to do a short film called Swim. "We have been doing short films since our days at FAU. Sometime around 2015 Vern told me about his time swimming competitively for high school. Their film, Swim, has over 3 million views on YouTube.

Schlissel also wants FAU students to know that it takes a lot of rewriting in order to get your script as polished, clear and exciting as possible. "Writing is rewriting,"he said. "It could take months or years of rewriting to get a script into professional shape."Schlissel said to make it as a screenwriter and filmmaker you have to ignore the inner voice inside of you that is filled with self-doubt. "Ignore the haters who say your dreams are impossible. They are wrong. I started FAU as a directionless, low-GPA student and finished as a cum laude graduate who knew what he wanted to do,"he said. "You can do it. All you have to do is put in the time and have a little faith. You’ll be surprised where that can take you."