Matt Hall biography
Matt Hall formerly worked as an Art Director for Dream Works under the master visionary, Steven Spielberg!
His journey to Hollywood began in Missouri, as a teen, when by chance he met leading Western Artist Bob Tommy, who just moved from Texas. Tommy encouraged Matt to try his hand at painting, and, upon seeing Matt’s “natural talent,” he became Matt’s mentor, teaching him the technique he had amassed from a lifetime of work.
In college, Matt studied classical painting then broadened his abilities after graduation, by working for an architectural firm (architectural renders), a greeting card company (painting landscapes and still life), and a television production company (painting animation backgrounds). It was there that Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks company found him, and lured he and his new bride, Michele, a Texas small town girl to Hollywood.
There, Matt rose through the ranks at Dreamworks, painting concept art for movies and video games. When Steven Spielberg had an idea brewing about the Battle for Iwo Jima, Matt painted an “epic concept” for him. Spielberg’s idea later became the film, Flags of Our Fathers. Eventually, Matt was named Franchise Art Director for Dreamworks’ Medal of Honor video games series, one credited with generating interest in WWII history among young people.
Matt grew as an artist through Spielberg’s critiques of his work. They were “actually fun” according to Matt, because Spielberg was enthusiastic about what he liked, and when there was something he didn’t like, he balanced that “hard critique” with a re-emphasis of what was positive and how it could be enhanced.
“I also learned from Steven Spielberg the value of listening to my ‘creative instincts’” Matt explained. “A lot of times, marketing dictates if an idea will be well-received, but Spielberg would often fly against the grain, if he believed in an idea. There was a time when the marketing guys said ‘WWII is done and dead,” but Spielberg followed his instincts and passion and made Saving Private Ryan!”
Matt soon discovered that he, too, possessed a deep-seeded passion to tell the stories of America’s war heroes when Dreamworks put him on a new assignment, to paint a painting a month for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Working from just a citation and a portrait of a long-deceased recipient, Matt brought their stories back to life. There, he discovered his calling, but he couldn’t act on it. That was just an assignment. He was a concept artist.
Then, in summer 2008, Matt underwent brain surgery to remove a growth behind his eye. He had an epiphany. “It was a wake-up call for me that we don’t really know how long we have on earth,“ Matt explained. “That got me thinking, ‘What kind of legacy will my art leave to the world?’ Will it tell a story of something important? Will it be something people will appreciate 50 or 100 years from now? It was tough to look in mirror and say ‘maybe not’ since the art I was doing would be locked away in a vault once it served its purpose.
“It was an epiphany on a lot of levels,“ he explained, “Spiritually, artistically, and career-wise. Like that leap of faith when I went to paint for Hollywood, I decided to follow my passion and paint the stories of men whose legacies need to be preserved.”
With the release of “Angels from Above,” one can safely conclude that, Matt’s “creative instincts,” like those of the great Steven Spielberg, are on time, on target!