It’s a universal story about loving, letting go, and holding onto faith that there’s somebody for everybody. In addition, the film also features film and TV icon, “Star Trek” star and LGBT activist, George Takei. The project consists of not only the film but, the original soundtrack and pop album titled “hopefulROMANTIC – The Deluxe Edition”, featuring new, acoustic renditions of songs featured in the film, as well as a bonus video duet with Jeb Havens – available now.
To date, “hopefulROMANTIC,” the film, has already received acclaim and has been chosen as an official selection by dozens of film festivals around the world, including: Cannes Short Film Festival, Mumbai International Queerfest, Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, SHOUT! LGBT Film Festival, Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, Cinema Diverse: Palm Springs LGBT Film Festival, Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, Out On Film: Atlanta LGBT Film Festival, and the Chelsea Film Festival in New York City, among others.
It may sound like a somewhat familiar story, but what makes “hopefulROMANTIC” unique, is the way in which it is told. The nearly dialogue free narrative is articulated solely through a soulful pop score by Zarley and Grammy and Emmy Award winner Andy Zulla and, directed by Benjamin Pollack. “hopefulROMANTIC” is best described simply as a love story – with music as its guide. Matt Zarley (The Romantic) co-stars with Chuck Saculla (The Boyfriend), Jolie Jenkins (The Best Friend), and social media/pop culture icon, Star Trek’s George Takei (The Mentor).
“When I first started writing the music, I was deeply in love,” says Zarley. “The original plan was to write a simple little EP of love songs. I was so happy and I wanted everyone to know it. A few weeks into the process, my relationship ended abruptly without warning. I was devastated. What was going to be a five song EP of love songs suddenly took a turn. I’ve always wanted to write a musical and have been approached by a few producers to do so, so this seemed like the perfect time to seize that opportunity.”
Zarley began to construct a narrative with the ultimate objective in mind – to introduce a fresh new format in musical storytelling. Having spent the majority of his early years of adulthood on Broadway and virtually a lifetime involved in musical theatre, it seemed natural to finally merge his two worlds together into a cohesive one. That combined with a successful Kickstarter campaign was the beginning of “hopefulROMANTIC.”
“I knew I wanted the film to be sung through from beginning to end, but not in a ‘Les Miserables’ sort of way, but in a new one that many haven’t really seen before,” explains Zarley. “I’ve found that many people have a real problem with movie musicals in general yet they don’t have a problem with music videos with a heavy narrative driving it. I also wanted to show that it is possible to have a set of songs that can each equally service the piece and drive the story forward; as well as stand on it’s own, independently outside of the musical narrative. That was my main objective musically with this project. So by combining those two approaches, that’s how I decided to tell the story. Is it a musical? Is it a music video? Is it a short film? Yes – it’s all of them – it’s everything.”
Much of what Matt was writing about was also what he was experiencing in real life. Through this creative journey, he began to slowly heal himself. In the end, his faith and belief that there’s someone out there for all of us was once again restored.
“On the set, throughout the day, I felt his [Matt’s] passion for this project,” says TV icon George Takei on working with Matt on “hopefulROMANTIC.” “He is a also a wonderful actor. Everybody involved in it [the film] was there because of love…and to see it now on screen is a beautiful experience.”
Matt’s passion for songwriting resulted in his first solo album, “Debut,” which was released in 2002 through Universal Distribution. The critically acclaimed set featured the dance hit, “You Always Want (What U Ain’t Got)” and “Say Goodbye”; which was also featured on the all-star Human Rights Campaign (HRC) benefit CD, “Being Out Rocks.” Zarley’s sophomore album, “Here I Am,” had its title track chosen as one of the 2008 “American Idol Songwriter” competition’s Top 20 finalists in the prestigious national contest. He co-wrote the tune with Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner, Tom Kitt (Next To Normal) when Tom was serving as Matt’s music director for his NYC engagements. The set was also named one of Billboard Magazine’s Critics “Top 10 of 2008.”
“Change Begins With Me,” Matt’s 2012 album release garnered near unanimous acclaim. Critics hailing it “inspiring,” “powerful,” “passionate,” “soaring,” “dreamy,” “poignant,” and “a rare breed of artist….soulful and impressive”. The album’s first single, “WTF” became Matt’s 3rd Billboard hit; while the music video became an internet cult classic. His next single, “Trust Me,” quickly became Matt’s 4th consecutive Billboard single and, the song’s music video became a viral sensation, having clocked over 100,000 views in its first 2 weeks of release. To top it off, the album received the 2012 OutMusic Award for both “Album of the Year” and “Single of the Year.”
Matt began his career at 12 years old starring in national commercials and, subsequently, his career led him to Broadway where, still just a teenager, he made his Broadway debut. Zarley has appeared in numerous shows including “Chicago,” “A Chorus Line” and “Cats,” and has played the title roles in both “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “The Who’s Tommy on Broadway.” He has also had the pleasure of performing with Whitney Houston, Reba McEntire, Chaka Khan, Vanessa Williams, Brandy, Usher and Olivia Newton-John, among many others.
“hopefulROMANTIC” (the short film and recording) will be available on iTunes and other digital outlets, on Friday, October 16, 2015. For more information visit MattZarley.com or hopefulROMANTICmovie.com. Follow Matt on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @MattZarley.