Lee spoke at WVU, while Matthews was a student interested in civil rights and the law. Matthews never forgot how the director talked about the film program at New York University, even after Matthews graduated from the WVU law school and began practicing in Charleston.
In 2008, he left Charleston to become the legal director of the ACLU in Connecticut, but by the time he was 31, Matthews wanted to go to film school -- even though he knew next to nothing about making movies.
So in 2009, Matthews bought a cheap camera at Target, got his then-wife to film him, and made a short film to submit with his application to NYU.
"After we shot it, I took the camera back to Target," he said.
Matthews showed the film to a friend with some film background. "And he said it was bad, real bad."
But he had some advice for Matthews. So, the would-be filmmaker bought the digital camera again and re-shot the short film.
It wasn't great, but it was better. Matthews sent the film with his application to NYU.
"And then I took the camera back to Target again," he said.
NYU accepted Matthews, awarded him a full scholarship and, as luck would have it, Spike Lee was looking for a student assistant.
"I figured I had zero chance if I applied. I'm just this white kid from West Virginia." But he got the job.
"Spike was really into West Virginia," Matthews said. "He knew sports and he's just a really well-read guy. He was kind of fascinated by us."
Matthews worked for Lee and even got a grant from him to help finish a documentary Matthews was working on called "Surviving Cliffside."
While at NYU, he worked with Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Olivia Wilde and James Franco on Lee's "Black Dog, Red Dog" project.
Living in Brooklyn, he said he got homesick for the mountains. He helped organize gatherings for West Virginia expats.
"We had bands come play," he said. "We sold moonshine and cornbread. If we could have gotten Tudor's biscuits up there, we would have."
In January, Matthews moved to Los Angeles with plans to write for television. Not long after he'd settled in, he got a call from Wathen. Her mother knew his mother and she had a script for a movie she wanted him to see.
"The film was about a trailer park in California," he said. "She asked me if I thought I could adapt the story to West Virginia and, of course, we could. It was a great story for West Virginia."
Matthews said they met and everybody hit it off. Redmond and Wathen would star in the film from Redmond's script and Matthews would direct in West Virginia.
"We want to shoot in the fall, to get the maximum West Virginia fall foliage," Wathen said. "We want this to be a film people can look at and really appreciate what's beautiful here."
Needing someone to help set up the film shoot and put together a crew, Matthews enlisted local filmmaker and West Virginia Public Broadcasting producer Bob Wilkinson, an old acquaintance, to help them get the film off the ground in West Virginia.
Wilkinson's first question to them was: "Do you have any money?"
Matthews laughed. "Because right, we're all talking art and nobody has thought about how we're going to pay for any of this."
So, they talked it over and decided to try "crowd-funding" through Kickstarter, a website that allows artists, entrepreneurs and inventors to take ideas for their projects to an audience and try to convince them to invest in their work.
Supporters pledge online, using their credit or debit card. If the creators involved make their stated goal, accounts are charged. If they don't, nobody is out any money but the project fails -- or at least, that funding stream is closed.
Some of the success stories for the crowd-funding site have been spectacular, but the majority of Kickstarter projects fail.
However, there have been local successes. South Charleston-based comic book creators Jason Pell and Blake Wheeler raised $11,600 to produce and distribute their graphic novel, "Season's End."
Matthews and Wathen are looking for $20,000.
"And we have about 10 days to make this work," Matthews said, shaking his head, a baffled grin on his face. "I would love if we shot my first feature in West Virginia."
It's a lot of money, but if they can pull it off, if they can get people to invest in their little movie, Matthews and Wathen think they can give West Virginia something to be proud of.
"It's a chance to show a kinder side of the state," Wathen said.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.