Curtis Matzke is an independent screenwriter and director working in Chicago, IL and founder of the media production company, Unfurnished Films. Curtis has directed several short narrative and documentary films and music videos, as well as written numerous screenplays, including four features. In 2012 he wrote and directed a micro-budget feature film COMPLEX, as part of his Masters thesis project which went on to be recognized with several awards, including Best Narrative Feature at the Made-in-Michigan Film Festival. Curtis has since focused on directing and writing, aiming to contribute to the film arts through both the creative and technical processes with an emphasis on feature development.
Curtis has found success through various projects screening at venues nationally and internationally. His feature screenplay SPINE was in the second round of the Austin Film Festival, where he also won the award for “Most Diabolical” from the National Academy of Sciences Screenwriters Workshop for an impromptu pitch for a film. His short science fiction screenplay CICADA was a top-ten finalist at the prestigious Cinequest Film Festival. An experimental one-minute film, LENS, opened for several feature films at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival. A short fantasy film (SPLINTER), which he wrote and directed, was recently distributed by ALTER, earning over 150K views in less than a week. His full-length documentary (FIRST FEATURE) about an intrepid young filmmaker, is in post-production and his last short film, THE ORCHESTRA, Is a proof-of-concept for a feature film and has screened at over two dozen genre and non-genre specific film festivals. He also recently collaborated with the historic Music Box Theatre to create a 90th anniversary tribute documentary which included interviews with Werner Herzog, Michael Shannon, Chaz Ebert, and more.
In addition to his numerous own projects, Curtis has worked on a myriad of different productions in various roles. He recently served as co-producer on a an independent feature shot in Chicago, AN EXQUISITE MEAL, which premiered at Cinequest in 2020. He was also the director of photography and producer for another indie feature, SEXUAL ANIMALS, which premiered at Hell's Half Mile. Curtis currently works as a freelancer, collaborating on a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and commercial film and video projects. Curtis has collaborated with some great Chicago institutions, including The Second City, Columbia College, and the Midwest Independent Film Festival. He is the recipient of a professional development grant from the Illinois Arts Council and in 2019 founded The Chicago Cinema Collective, a comprehensive compendium of the Chicago film scene. He has also served as a judge for the Academy-qualifying Chicago Children’s International Film Festival, and a reader for the Austin Film Festival Writer’s Competition and SAG-AFTRA/IFP Chicago table read series.
Curtis holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Media Arts and Technology from Michigan State University with a concentration in Television, Cinema, and Radio, a minor in Film Studies, and a Specialization in Design.