Monday, June 23, 2014


So, I made my feature, The Art of Pain, into a web series on YouTube. While I was chopping it up, I couldn't help but improve it some- look for quicker scenes, new music and some new shots.
Subscribe and enjoy!
Matt B

A Drama-Comedy web series packed with action, nerds, ninjas, zombies and yup-- starving artists getting beaten down!

Jack works an easy job at the movie theater with his pal Nick, a sci-fi geek, and his aspiring actress girlfriend, Sharon. He used to be a pretty good painter, but there isn't much inspiration in this zombie-like existence. All of that is about to change. Enter Marcus, a pissed off ninja-in-training with something to prove. Fueled by disgust for Jack's apathy and a cruel sensei, Marcus takes it upon himself to teach a brutal lesson: Great art comes from great pain. What follows is a bloody trail of seduction, murder and maiming that only a ninja can inflict. Now, painting in a frenzy, Jack must fight not only for his art, but his life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Guitar Party Nightmare

Clubber babes, Cindy (Pamela Walt) and Mindy (Haley Mancini) find to their horror that everyone at this party is strumming classic rock sing-alongs. When Cindy finds Mindy making out with one of the D-Bags, annoyance becomes terror! Can Cindy escape this GUITAR PARTY NIGHTMARE?

1st Place Jury
Scary or Die Film Fest 2010

Best Comedy
Angeleno Film Fest 2010

OFFICIAL SELECTION at the Thriller Chiller Film Fest and Route 66 Film Fest 2010.

Where did this all come from? Ground zero for the guitar zombies was a party at the house of one Robbie Rist. My buddy, Jake Hames had invited me along to Robbie's house party, and I was stoked to go.  You see, Robbie is kindof a big deal. He played Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch. He also voiced some great characters including Michelangelo in the original ninja turtles films.  Little did I know that Robbie is also an avid guitar player and performer.  In fact, all his friends are too. (Ominous Guitar Chord Here)

As we entered the party, we were greeted by a rousing sing along of Hotel California on the back patio. OK, I thought, where's that keg?  Beer in hand, next step is to snack up, right? I squeezed into the kitchen where... what? Another sing along was going down. This time it was to Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet. No need to panic, I thought to myself. I loaded a plate with chips and dip and relocated to the living room. Guess what, some dude was playing American Pie. I mean, full on belting it out.  I just... I just wasn't ready for this enthusiasm. Apparently, I was the only one not feeling the singalong blissful vibrations coursing through the air.  What could I do, but evacuate to the porch. Holy shit. A little group was playing Come to My Window by Melissa Ethridge.

I will now state for the record, that all the guitar players were excellent, and to Robbie's credit, I did end up having a great time, but between you and me (and the blogosphere) I needed about five cups from the keg to stifle my sing along anxiety.  Then I thought,"HEY! This would make a funny sketch for my UCB sketch writing class.  Booyah.  The rest is not history, but it's on YouTube.

Production was something of a Red Camera Party Nightmare. I say that jokingly. It could have been way worse.  Wait.  It was great, it was just a LONG day.  I tend to get ambitious with scheduling film shoots.  There's so much to get in so little time. GPN was particularly challenging for me because I had to direct AND act AND play some D-Baggy songs on the guitar (Hootie and the Blowfish anyone?)That chalks up to lots of takes and a 2AM wrap time.  Sorry guys.

In every shoot, there are many heroes. This one was an exception, no heroes, just really freak'in hard workers. Dave Swuz, you were the best AD (bad cop) no money could buy.  Ricardo Moreno, you brought an expensive camera package, and lots of talent and I paid you next to nothing. Jason Jake Jacobs, you let us destroy your house and make a mess in your yard. J Scott, you totally showed up. Just kidding, you did a fantastic job getting killed by a guitar. Nobody's eyes can bug out quite like yours.

I was thrilled with our cast and crew, and giddy that we won some awards for this little short about guitar geeks and the women who succumb to them.

From Left: Dave Swuz, Kelly Ambrow, Haley Mancini, Micah Zarlow, Matt Brookens and Jake Hames

Andrew Alt and Julie Viens singing songs of joy.
Pain Meister- Brought to you by Zabba Zabba Products Inc.

Pam Walt asking the impossible of Dave Swuz

Jake Hames "helping" the DP.

Can you spot the tiny woman in this shot?  Hint, it's not me.

Haley Mancini - Comedy Lady

Jake Hames, Andy Alt, Jason Jake Jacobs and some dude.

Ricardo Moreno, cinematographer of the stars and his RED camera.

Yeah... another 14 hour shoot.  Um... Thanks guys!

Krysten Clark, makeup artist.

The crew!

That's what I do with my hands when I'm worried about how long stuff takes. 
Pam Walt - Comedian of Comedy

Haley Mancini and Pamela Walt star in GUITAR PARTY NIGHTMARE

Jake Hames - Guitar Zombie.  He eats an iPhone in this.
Matt Brookens, a pleasant director.

Sorry, Pam!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Magic Talking Burrito (1997 16mm)

When a college guy befriends a magical talking burrito, he thinks his life couldn't get much better.  Turns out, he's DEAD wrong.

The year was 1997.  The beer was Old Style. Greg and I were deep into the film curriculum at Columbia College Chicago.  That means we were drinking heavily and eating a lot of Taco Bell.  We all know that's where the best cinema is conceived.

Shot on 16mm for Columbia College Chicago in 1997, this is an early Brookens Bros. masterpiece starring Chad Wheeler as the College Guy, Greg Brookens as the voice of the Magic Talking Burrito, Matt Brookens as Doobie Schmerdstein, and who can forget  Katie Werremeyer and Tim Antonacci as the lovable bartender and nut house guy?

About the quality- yeah OK, so this was shot on 16mm with a Bolex, edited using a razor blade and tape, projected and video taped to Hi8, then digitized years later and output to Quicktime.  It's got a lot of rich smokey flavor kinda like that old skillet you never wash.

Apartment 716 at Burnham Park Plaza was a place of intellectual mayhem and artistic depravity.  It was a foothold in Chicago for Springfield, Illinois geek outcasts like us.  Finally, we were free to follow our dreams of making burrito cinema for the ages.  You can't stop us, Mom and Dad!  You're a solid three hours away!

Monday, December 31, 2012

First I'm Gonna Eat That Kid, Then I'm Gonna Buy Some Beanie Babies(The Rubber Pool Movie)

I was 23 and Greg was 20 when we made this featurette about a troubled teen running away from his abusive uncle.

Forward by Dan Bruce

I remember being initially nervous coming into it. Matt, Greg and all their friends had been making incredible shorts for years, and I certainly felt like an outsider from the get-go. But once we got going I was having so much fun that all the trepidation melted away, and they really made me feel welcomed into their fold. I have so many great memories of making this film that it's hard to list them all. From the time I fell in the muddy creek at 6 in the morning (it's in the movie), to the time I accidentally broke Greg's jaw (it's in the movie), and the time I mistakenly ate mushrooms on a day of filming (it's in the movie)...

I remember being so impressed that we actually had a permit to film in the park after hours. It felt so professional. Although, I was disappointed that we were never once asked to show said permit, despite having a campfire burning in plain sight in the middle of a closed park. And the fact that I was paid in Taco Bell makes this one of my most lucrative acting gigs ever (Thanks guys!). Oh, and Dr. Troy. I still hear his voice in my dreams.

Sadly, I never got to see this with an audience, which might be for the best seeing as I find my performance to be cringe-worthy at times. But I did come up with the "It was a night just like today" line, and for that I am pleased. All in all, this was a great experience, and while it might not be Zabba Zabba's crowning achievement, I find there are still lots of laughs to be had in this movie and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. 

Oh, and here's a fun drinking game: Every time I almost ruin a take by cracking a smile take a drink. You will be wasted in no time.
P.S. I owe a big thanks to Edward Norton for dropping out at the last second, thereby giving me the chance to shine. I hear he is still kicking himself over that decision.
The original poster and one of my first awkward forays into Photo Shop.

Another Rubber Pool poster. This one had illustrations made in Adobe Illustrator.  Making this poster while working in the archive room of ad agency FCB (Foote Cone and Belding) in Chicago was a real learning experience.  

Matt Brookens, videographer and TMBG fan.

Dan Bruce and Chad Wheeler on set at SHG with Andy Kapitan giving the crucial Thumbs Up!

The original script complete with the Kinkos order form to make more copies for the cast.

Greg Brookens, Steve Puglia, Tim Antonacci and Matt Brookens getting a dolly shot in their old high school, Sacred Heart Griffin.  I recommend filming in your old high school.  You feel like you "WON".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Rubber Pool Movie OFFICIAL TRAILER!

SUBSCRIBE to Matt Brookens Direct:

T'was the summer of '99. 

Greg and I were back in Springfield for a couple months for break. We'd been cranking on our film degrees at Columbia College Chicago, and were excited to get back to our roots: Shooting fun movies with our friends.  

Greg wrote the script for this wacky mini-feature and I still think it holds up.  Add a big budget and Zach Galafinakis, and this could have be a Hollywood blockbuster. 

As is, The Rubber Pool Movie is a fun time capsule of our Springfield past, not to mention a testament to the good will of our friends whom we convinced to act.  Steve Puglia, I know you're looking at the pork chops on your boobs in the above photo, and beaming with pride! For me, this is all a reminder that films don't make themselves.  You need some dear friends who believe in you (and who must be really bored) to pitch in with.  Greg and I relied on the hard work, talents and friendship of our oldest friends to make this project happen. Joe Loobey, Nigel is perhaps your finest creation. Nobody could wear a blue wig and eat Brillo pads like you... nobody.  Dan Bruce, you were the most enthusiastic, most patient, and most dedicated Bobby we could have hoped for.

The plot goes something like this- Troubled teen, Bobby, runs away Huck Finn style from his abusive pig farming uncle with the help of his washed up British rocker pal, Nigel, while trying to evade an insane murderous golfer, in this coming of age road trip comedy. That's a mouth full, and a run on sentence, but you love it, and I do too, and so does your mom! 
Insane Golfer (Matt Doering) and The Zuchnini Bum (Tim Antonacci) are ready for their fight scene in front of the pink elephant statue.  That's Greg Brookens getting sound and me getting video. 
It's hard to believe we made this movie in 1999.  That was the dawn of digital camcorders at a price we could afford. Thanks to the benevolence of our Grandma Vickery, we were able to get a brand new mini-DV camcorder.  We pooled our funds together and purchased some filters, a wide angle lens, and a tripod.  For sound, we borrowed a shotgun mic from Columbia College. School also let me borrow a 3 point lighting kit, called a DP kit, for the summer.  That was really REALLY cool of them, not that I think of it.  We used the HELL out of all that gear.  Proof that you can make a film for well under $2000.

Dan Bruce (Bobby) prepares for his mourning scene.  Man I was a hippy! 
Whenever your old high school lets you borrow a class room to film your indie film in... DRAW ALL OVER THE CHALK BOARD!

Dan Bruce (Bobby) and Chad Wheeler (Kris with a K) play bullied nerds who get pelted by dissected frogs.

Filming in the Fairhills Mall Parking Lot! (No permits, dawg)

Chad Wheeler, as I remember him in high school.

Matt Doering and Time Antonacci- BFFs 4ERV!

Dan Bruce in Washington Park, contemplating a Styrofoam grave. 
On stage at Springfield Theater Center with a lot of wigs.  This is a flashback to Nigel's band's glory days.

Steve Puglia as young Earl.  Ready for a spork fight.


Insane golfer eating a child.

Greg Brookens with a tiny porcelain pig

Lauren Whalen expressing herself to Steve Puglia. 
Colleen Call

Dan Bruce as Bobby forced to prepare pork for his uncle Earl.

Steve and Chad having a moment.

The Brookens Brothers.

Bill Cox as Velvet Gnu Record exec, Norby Hootch.  This character is reprised in Skunk Ape!? 
Dress to impress.

The Rubber Pool Movie premiered at White Oaks Mall, Springfield, IL. 

At the premier.  We got a respectable turn out considering everything.  We projected from a tiny office projector. Haha!

Andy Kapitan (Center Top) and Scott Cornish (Center) at the premier. 

Show Time!

After the premier, we stayed up all night drinking beer in the country in Bill's truck.