Matthew Rhodes, like many blindly ambitious college students, took a leap of faith, one consumed by his childhood obsession with the world of entertainment. Following his freshman year at Ohio University, Rhodes left his parent’s home in Cleveland, Ohio, and purchased a bus ticket to the epicenter of TV and movie production: Los Angeles, CA. With barely any money in his pockets, and Rhodes steadily inching closer to homelessness, he stood outside the sets of projects asking producers for an opportunity, even offering to work countless hours for free. Once he obtained his first gig as a production assistant, the 19-year-old would eventually work to become the president of The Hideaway Entertainment and a prominent producer in his own right.
How would you describe what it is you do professionally?
I’m the president of The Hideaway Entertainment, which is a boutique entertainment studio that makes movies, television shows and digital content. I oversee the entire company. Additionally, I would say, I’m also a producer of the movies and TV shows we make.
Tell us about how you got started. Did it start when you were young? After college? How did you get that first foot in the door? Did you have any connections when you started in this industry?
Ever since I was a little kid between the ages of 11 and 15, I became obsessed with television first. And so I would just watch all the programming shows I loved and be like, “I want to do that.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but I was just obsessed with entertainment and, then, started getting obsessed with movies. When I saw “Star Wars” and “Back to the Future,” I was like “Oh my god, I want to do that.” Then, I started seeing plays, concerts and watching entertainment. That really drove me to entertainment.
When I applied to colleges, I was looking for colleges that had something to do with entertainment. Obviously, [Ohio University] has so much television and theater and journalism, so I immediately started the day I arrived at OU and that was my focus. When I made my first three-minute short film, it was fairly commercial and then, one of my film school teachers said, “Hey Matt, you should go to Hollywood.” So, I told my parents, after my freshman year at OU, that I was going to spend my summer in Los Angeles looking for internships. That’s what I did. After my freshman year, I hopped on a bus and came out to LA and then I had some production assistant jobs. That’s how it started.
Considering your busy schedule, what ‘s a typical day for you?
I’d say waking up at 7:30 a.m., and literally straight through on and off until 10 or 12 at night. I’m working in the office; I have staff meetings, lunch meetings, writer meetings, pitch meetings, director meetings, actor meetings, studio meetings. Sometimes I’m in the office or sometimes I’m driving around town. It’s total and complete amazing chaos.
What do you love most about your career?
Making entertainment that people want to see. Hopefully, it makes an impact on them in some way. A lot of movies that I make are worthy of a conversation; there’s something about the story I hope will impact people and makes the world a better place. As a producer, I care a great deal about the people I work with, and so the impact I have on them to be the best they can be is also why I love what I do for a living.
What are your biggest challenges professionally, especially as an entrepreneur?
Every day I wake up and my hope is that I find an idea that’s great. I read a script that’s great. I read a book that’s great. The biggest challenge that never leaves me is trying to find the next story we [The Hideaway Entertainment] want to tell. And I think that’s the biggest challenge we face daily. Finding unique stories people want to see on a worldwide basis and have themes and concepts that can transcend as well.
What’s been a thought, quote or message that has stuck with you throughout your career that you feel has contributed to your success? Why?
The one short quote is “Make it happen.” As a producer, you know, I start everything and I’m involved in everything, so I think you just got to make it happen. That encompasses my day.
Do you have any words of advice for those who aspire to be in your position later in their careers?
Work hard and work smart. To me, they’re mutually exclusive concepts. I think it’s important to be a really hard worker because people in the entertainment industry and business work really hard. And I think it’s most important to work really smart because you can work hard and waste a lot of time. That focus is essential to finding your path and being successful at it.