For many college students, picking a major is a tricky task – it can be difficult to choose a career path at such a young age. Matthew Merz, a sports management alumnus, proves that a student’s major doesn’t have to define his future career.
Merz is an established filmmaker and radio host steadily moving to the top. Although his film career is still young, Merz has worked with Brian Anthony Wilson from “The Wire,” “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Keeping the Faith,” the Rev. Bob Levy from “The Howard Stern Show” and “The Killers of Comedy” and Lou “Twitchels” Centanni from MTV’s “True Life: I Have Tourette’s.”
Six years ago, Merz was studying for his sports management classes at Temple, but he didn’t find careers in sports enticing, he said.
“I wanted to be a sports agent, but I hated school, and I didn’t want to go to law school,” Merz said. “I just wanted to work for a sports team ‘cause it had the word ‘sports’ in it.”
Merz attended community college for two years before he transferred to Temple, but his pre-university experience didn’t help him decide on a career path. Merz decided to transfer to Temple, seeking a bachelor’s degree in sports management.
“I was young and dumb and stupid,” he said. “If I was smart, I would have majored in computer science or something. Now I want nothing to do with sports.”
Merz became interested in the film industry while working for the IRS during his time at Temple. He overheard his co-worker, Chet Johnson, discussing a movie script, and Merz was intrigued. He joined the conversation and immediately found his new passion – screenwriting. Now, Johnson is Merz’s partner in 1 More Time Productions.
“Because I was working at night and going to school during the day, I wouldn’t have been working at night [if I wasn’t going to school, and] I wouldn’t have met Chet,” Merz said. “So you can say I would have never gotten into film if I was never going to school.”
Throughout the years, the two have written multiple scripts and directed short and feature films together, including “Operation: Get Rid of Pinky” and “Party Smashers.”
Merz said he encountered plenty of problems while producing the films but in turn, learned many valuable lessons.
“One thing I’ve learned [is that] anybody who says they’re going to do it, chances are, they’re not going to do it,” Merz said. “I have a hard time with trust. In the filmmaking [industry], I have a harder time with trust because everybody says, ‘Oh, I’ll do that.’ A lot of people have let me down, [which] gives me more motivation.”
Merz said when working on an independent film, it’s difficult to count on anyone other than oneself.
“If you don’t do it yourself, it’s not going to get done,” he said. “Do not assume. Do not rely on anyone.”
Merz did not take filmmaking or creative writing classes at Temple. The only published writing Merz produced was for the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management’s newsletter. After he realized his passion for screenwriting, Merz moved to Florida for a post-graduation internship, where he was inspired to write several screenplays.
“I guess where I get my inspiration from is [how] a lot of people read. I don’t read, I witness,” Merz said. “I see, ‘Oh, this would be great for a movie.’”
Merz said STHM Assistant Dean Jeffrey Montague’s class offered more inspiration for his current outlook on filmmaking than anything else he learned at Temple. Montague taught him “that it is OK to think outside the box,” Merz said.
“I feel we are taught to do and learn things by the book. The great thing about filmmaking is you have to think outside the box,” Merz said. “The best filmmakers live outside the box.”
Bob Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.