Matt Close, Mattea Brotherton, Dana Hodgson, Connor Rueter, and Maxime Lauzon star in Happy F’K’IN Sunshine. A new Canadian feature premiering Friday, June 10 (9:30 p.m.), at the Dances With Films Festival at the famed Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood.
Happy F’K’IN Sunshine centers on Ronnie and her brother Will who live in a one mill town. When the mill goes on strike, the future for their family looks bleak. Fortunately, Ronnie has found a brisk business selling weed. When Will wants to start a band, Ronnie uses her weed profits to buy Will an electric guitar. Against everybody’s advice, Will enlists local outcast Artie as the bass player. Artie’s lies cause instant conflict within the band, especially with Vince, the egotistical lead singer. But the musical chemistry is undeniable, and the band just might hit the big time. If they can survive each other first.
Mattea is a non-binary actor from a small vacation town of only 800 permanent residents in
northern Ontario. With a burning passion and love for acting, they graduated college for theatre and film in 2019 and was lucky enough to jump into their first big role just before graduation. Mattea still looks for any opportunity to jump in front of a camera or into a sound booth, and has been a key part in bringing many independent short films to life over the past few years, and is always looking for ways to help people tell their stories.
I had the opportunity to chat with Mattea (who portrays Ronnie) about their role, what they learned while filming, and their favorite memories on set.
Kat: Can you share a little bit about why you decided to pursue acting?
Mattea: I suffered from really bad depression and anxiety in high school, and the only time I really felt I could put that aside was when I was in my theatre class. I eventually started skipping all of my classes except for theatre, it was the only thing I had to look forward to. Theatre literally saved my life, and I decided to turn that escape into my career.
Kat: How did you prepare for your role?
Mattea: A lot of the film is about mental health, and for Ronnie I had to go to some really dark places. Ronnie and I don’t share the same traumas, but we do have very similar ones. The biggest part of acting is using your own experiences and translating those into your character, and for me that was going back and digging up some repressed memories from high school. I was listening to a lot of the music I listened to back then, I reached out to some old friends, and really just tried to, safely, get back into the mindset of what it felt like to be as hurt as Ronnie is.
Kat: Did you learn anything about yourself while filming?
Mattea: Ronnie, as you can probably tell from the trailer, is a very angry character, before the film I was a huge pushover. I felt like I couldn’t say no to anything. This film helped me realize it’s okay to stick up for myself sometimes, and after we wrapped I was able to set some really healthy boundaries I needed in my life.
Kat: Was there anything about your role that was particularly challenging?
Mattea: I’m not the kind of person that holds onto anger, and finding that in myself was very difficult and it took a really long time most days to get into that headspace. I also relived some trauma during this role as well, which was sometimes really hard to process, and a lot of really repressed stuff came up. In the long run, I’m really thankful for that though. As difficult as it was, I was able to face my trauma and work through a lot of things. It ended up being a really healthy thing for me.
Kat: Do you have any favourite memories from set?
Mattea: In the trailer you can see me beating the snot out of another actor. That actor is actually a really good friend of mine and we actually took combat classes together before. I absolutely love doing fight scenes. Getting to work with my friend again was so much fun, even though the geese had gotten there before us and we were covered in poop by the end of the scene. If you look closely you might even be able to see some on our clothes!
Kat: What do you hope the audience takes from this film?
Mattea: I have two things.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. People act and react the way they do for a reason. There’s a really good Robin Williams quote that I like. Everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always.
Also, when I lived back home, I had so many people around me telling me it was an awful idea, that I needed a backup plan, that it was a pipe dream. If I followed there advice, I wouldn’t be here. Pursue your dreams relentlessly. Let nobody bring you down. Fight for your place.
Kat: The film centres on music, who are some of your favourite music artists, and was there any particular song or artist you listened to while filming?
Mattea: I’m a huge fan of Steve Miller Band, Pink Floyd, and Alt-J. I remember during the film I was listening to a lot of the metal I listened to back in high school. The Depths by Of Mice and Men particularly stands out to me. That was a key song that helped my get into Ronnies headspace.
Connect With Mattea On Instagram