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About Matthew

Baltimore City

Matthew Porterfield's picture
Matt Porterfield has written and directed four feature films, Hamilton (2006), Putty Hill (2011), I Used to Be Darker (2013) and Sollers Point (2018). His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Harvard Film Archive and has screened at the Walker Arts Center, Anthology Film Archives, Centre Pompidou, Cinematheque Française, and film festivals such as Sundance, the Berlinale, San Sebastien, Rotterdam, BAFICI and SXSW. In 2012,... more

Matthew Porterfield's portfolio


SOLLERS POINT is a feature film about one man's return to society after a period of incarceration and six months' home detention. As Keith, 26, reenters a community scarred by joblessness, drugs and deeply entrenched segregation, he pushes back against limitations, some endemic to his socioeconomic reality, others self-imposed. This film was made possible, in part, with grants from the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC) and Creative Capital. It was distributed in the US by Oscilloscope Laboratories in May, 2018.


Porterfield's first film, HAMILTON, made over the course of six years and released in 2006, chronicles two summer days in the life of a young family living in a diverse suburban neighborhood in northeast Baltimore City. It was shot and exhibited on 16mm and features an ensemble cast of high school actors from Baltimore School for the Arts, Patapsco, Patterson, and Chesapeake. Called "one of the finest American independent films ever made" by New Yorker film editor Richard Brody, it continues to tour festivals, museums, and universities around the world and was included in John Water's 2006 Top Ten in Artforum International. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Harvard Film Archive acquired it for their permanent collections in 2013.

  • Linda

    Gina Mooers as "Linda".
  • Hamilton // Trailer

    HAMILTON (2006). Shot and printed on 16mm. Music by Animal Collective, used by permission.
  • Sarah

    Sarah Seipp-Williams as "Candace".
  • Joe

    Chistopher Myers as 19 year-old "Joe".
  • Lena

    Stephanie Vizzi as 16 year-old "Lena".
  • Jasmine

    Jasmine Bazinet-Phillips as "Kelly".
  • Ellis

    Actor Ellis Kant, on location.
  • Camera

    The crew, poolside.
  • On Location

    Scott Martin (sound recordist) and Matt Porterfield shooting HAMILTON.
  • DeWayne

    The Kant brothers in Harford Park.


Porterfield's second film was made from a 5-page scenario rather than a screenplay. It combined techniques of documentary and fiction and allowed for more improvisation from the non-professional cast. According to the Maryland Film Festival program notes, "the film's central thread comes from a group of friends and family preparing for the wake of Cory, a Baltimore man whose life was taken by a heroin overdose. As characters reconnect and mourn, many are interviewed by an off-screen voice about who they are and how they live, bringing the narrative into points of intersection with documentary and experimental film. Skate parks, living-room tattoo parlors, paint-gun melees, and karaoke bars provide the visually stunning backdrop for a chorus of scarred but dignified voices calling out for better lives. As with HAMILTON, neighborhood is another integral thread, weaving us through uniquely Baltimorean rural spaces on the edges of our urban experience."

Made possible with a grant from IFP and Panasonic, shot for $18K, PUTTY HILL premiered at the 2010 International Forum of New Cinema in Berlin. It won "Best Picture" at the Santiago Festival Internacional de Cine, the Festival International du Film de La Roche-sur-Yon, the Festivala Autorskog Filma in Belgrade and the Atlanta Film Festival, as well as the Cinema Eye Honors Award for Nonfiction Filmmaking from The Museum of the Moving Image and Filmmaker Magazine. In 2012, PUTTY HILL was included in the Whitney Biennial. MoMA acquired the film for its permanent collection in 2013.

  • Zoe

    Zoe Vance at Hemlock Gorge.
  • Putty Hill // Theatrical Trailer

    My second feature, PUTTY HILL. Shot in Baltimore in 2009, released 2010. Music by Dustin Wong, used by permission.
  • Dustin

    Dustin Ray at Dimitri's Tavern.
  • Joe

    Joe Mooney dancing at Dimitri's Tavern.
  • BMX

    Mid-air at Carroll Park.
  • Tattoo

    Spike tattoos Jeff.
  • Sky

    Sky Ferreira in PUTTY HILL.
  • Hemlock Gorge

    Andrew & Walker at Hemlock Gorge.


When Taryn, a Northern Irish runaway, loses her job in Ocean City, MD, she seeks refuge with American relatives in Baltimore. What follows is a lo-fi musical about people finding each other, letting each other go, looking for love where they've found it before, and figuring out where they might find it next. Co-written by Amy Belk, my third film stars Kim Taylor, Ned Oldham, Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Geoff Grace, Nick Petr, and Jack Carneal, and features original music by Dustin Wong, The Entrance Band, and Dope Body. It was shot in Baltimore and Ocean City in the summer of 2011 and premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

  • Taryn

    Deragh Campbell as "Taryn" / production photo by Andrew Laumann
  • I Used To Be Darker // US Theatrical Trailer

    My third feature, I USED TO BE DARKER. Shot in Baltimore in 2011, released 2013.
  • Ned & Jack

    Ned Oldham and Jack Carneal / production photo by Josh Sisk
  • Adéle

    Adèle Exarchopoulos / production photo by Isaac Deibboll
  • Abby

    Hannah Gross as "Abby" / production photo by Isaac Deibboll
  • Kim

    Kim Taylor / production photo by Joyce Kim
  • Geoff

    Geoff Grace / production photo by Joyce Kim
  • Nick

    Nick Petr / production photo by Joyce Kim
  • Dope Body

    Dope Body at the Copycat / production photo by Isaac Deibboll
  • Deragh

    Deragh Campbell / production photo by Joyce Kim


A character study as well as a meditation on communication, creativity, and physical space, TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY is a picture of a young woman seen through the interiors she occupies and the company she keeps. My first film made away from home, TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY is my most personal and formally playful work yet. Inspired by George Perec’s text Species of Spaces, it imagines a character in transition, living in a foreign city for an indeterminate amount of time, trying to balance the various and distinct public and private manifestations of her personality. The film was funded through a grant from The Wexner Center for the Arts and a fellowship from the Harvard Film Study Center. It was written and produced in three months and premiered in the Shorts Competition at the 2015 Berlinale.

  • Lilly

    Hannah Gross as Lilly (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Family

    Louis Shanelec, Milena Gheorghiu, Ada Marie Schwitte and Angela Shanelec (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Morning

    Hannah Gross as Lilly (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Gob Squad

    Hannah Gross performing with Gob Squad (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Reflection

    Hannah Gross as Lilly (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Berlin

    Hannah Gross as Lilly (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Hannah

    Hannah Gross as Lilly (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Britta

    Britta Thie (photo: Iris Janke)
  • Bastian

    Art Director Anna-Sofie Hartmann and actor Jean-Christophe Folly.
  • Jenny Lou

    DoP Jenny Lou Ziegel and AC Tom Akinleminu (photo: Iris Janke)


This video, a component of an installation at the Baltimore Museum of Art for the 2011 Janet & Walter Sondheim Award exhibition, is a study of the photographic image as a unit of montage. It is made up of cell phone pictures alternating at 24 frames-per-second. The rapidity of the edit exploits the phenomenon of persistence of vision, creating the impression of overlap and suggesting associations, relationships, between the images: graphic, emotional, rhythmic, and thematic.


Developed as a thesis project at NYU, SAVE THE PLANET imagined a utopian group home in Bushwick, NY. Collaborating with homeless youth he met while living in Manhattan's Covenant House and inspired by the terrain of this Brooklyn neighborhood, Porterfield wrote a short screenplay about a diverse, makeshift family undergoing a change as they prepare for the departure of their surrogate father.

  • Storyboard

    A storyboard for SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Dad

    Gordon Porterfield in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Toussaint

    Toussaint Lockett in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Beth

    S. 4th btw Hooper and Hughes.
  • Jonas

    Jonas Jonnasson in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Eagle

    Gordon Porterfield, in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Self-portrait

    Matt Porterfield in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Tall Tales

    Gordon Porterfield in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Mirror

    Toussaint Lockett in SAVE THE PLANET (1998).
  • Storyboard

    A storyboard for SAVE THE PLANET (1998).

Coney Island

A silent, color Super 8mm sketch of a trip to Coney Island mid-summer, edited in-camera. Part of a collection of short films included in the Baltimore Museum of Art's 2010 Janet & Walter Sondheim Finalists' exhibition. For this film, Porterfield traveled with a friend on the Q train to New York City's most-historic beach. Inspired by the personal diary films of Jonas Mekas, it was crafted chronologically and edited in the moment through careful shot selection and improvised montage.

  • Pier

    Amy on the pier.
  • Coney Island Super 8mm

    A color Super 8mm sketch of a trip to Coney Island mid-summer, edited in-camera.
  • Ferris Wheel

    View from the Q train, entering the Stillwell Ave. station.
  • Sea

    The Atlantic.
  • Crowds

    The beach.
  • Amy

    Amy on the ferris wheel.
  • Jam

    Mid-summer crowds.
  • Swim

    In the water.
  • Sun

    Amy on the beach.
  • Complex

    On the Q train.

Dope Body video

A music video commissioned by Baltimore's most brutal band, Dope Body, for the song "Enemy Outta Me" off the album "Nupping". Shot on Super 8 and 16mm at the Current Gallery basement, the video's visceral, lo-fi style was an attempt to capture the energy and raw power of the band's live sound.

  • "Enemy Outta Me"

    Music video for "Enemy Outta Me", by Dope Body. Shot on Super 8mm and 16mm B&W film.
  • Zach

    Zachary Utz, guitar.
  • Andrew

    Andrew Laumann, vocals.
  • Zach

    Zachary Utz, guitar.
  • Group

    The whole band, killing it.
  • Guitar

    Zachary Utz, guitar.
  • Pedals

    Zachary Utz, guitar.
  • Andrew

    Andrew Laumann, vocals.
  • Dave

    Dave Jacober, drums.
  • FX

    Zachary Utz, guitar.

Matthew's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.