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Matt Cahill

Matt Cahill

Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design

Degree: Media Arts

Year of graduation: 1995

Through the looking glass: Matt Cahill looks back at a career from film to psychology

Sheridan Media Arts graduate Matt Cahill believes in a connection to people. Throughout his career as an assistant film editor, post production supervisor, and writer, he’s explored the different facets of what makes people tick — the genius of composers and artists, the bonds between parents and children or the visceral fascination with horror films — and brought these very human observations to his current work as a psychotherapist.

As a child, moving with his salesperson father from towns such as Rockwood, Ontario to Stony Plain, Alberta, Cahill got a firsthand look at a variety of Canadian locales, both big and small. “Unlike a lot of people, I don’t really have a home town,” he says. “I got to see a lot of the rural experience, which was very informative for me: from being exposed to the unlimited space and the silence of the countryside, to the faith elements and perspectives of the people that lived there.”

Transfixed by movies at a young age, Cahill was attracted to the idea of working in the film industry, which brought him to Sheridan’s Media Arts program. “What sealed the deal for me was that film represented something that was both creative and aesthetically fulfilling, but also involved enough working with your hands and getting dirty that I could justify it to myself,” says Cahill. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing something solely academic.”

Upon graduation in 1995, he started with a boutique TV commercial editing company, Flashcut Editing, working on campaigns including Chrysler and McDonald’s. Moving to Devine Entertainment Corporation and the world of long-form entertainment for families in 1997, Cahill found himself working on children’s programming centred around artists and composers. His work as assistant editor on a series on American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt won him an Emmy production certificate in Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing in 2000. In 2002, Cahill began working at Rhombus Media Inc. as a post-production supervisor on performing arts television programs, including critically acclaimed series Slings and Arrows, as well as feature films. “I cherished that opportunity because there was a focus on doing the best job possible even if no-one was getting rich on it, and the chance to expose people to performing arts through ballet and symphonies and musicals,” he says.

Deciding to explore the freelance world in 2006, Cahill found himself working on a variety of projects including Suck, a rock and roll/vampire film starring a then unknown Jessica Paré (of Mad Men fame), as well as the slasher movies Saw IV through VII. When asked about the tonal shift in his work, Cahill laughs. “I've done the gamut: I've gone from TV commercials to family programming to performing arts to entrails being thrown on the screen,” he says. “But I’m a lifelong fan of scary movies, and, as stressful as it was, I enjoyed the absurdity.”

Cahill took away from his 20 years in the film industry a deep enjoyment of the collaborative process. “At one point, I realized I needed to feel philosophically better about what I was doing with my life, and wanted to do something that corresponded better to my beliefs philosophically,” he says. “There’s the Japanese proverb that there are two types of fools: those who have never climbed Mt Fuji and those who have climbed it twice…and I didn’t want to be the latter.”

Following his interest in psychology, Cahill obtained his credentials with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario in 2012. Throughout his career – working in post-production, as a writer and novelist, an instructor, and a psychotherapist – Cahill has come to appreciate the depth of living that he first glimpsed on that Alberta field so long ago. “My challenge has been to get out of my head. It’s easy to go through life looking at the world as an observer in a removed sort of way, but sometimes the most rewarding elements of my life have been interpersonal experiences, and being with someone to share what I’m feeling,” he says. “I just needed to find which side of the camera I belonged on.”
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