Screenwriter Temple Mathews teams up with his daughter on feature film

With over 30 years in the film business, Mathews, ’76, has had a busy career in Hollywood. But nothing could prepare him for this.

Temple Mathews has penned family fare like “Disney’s Return to Never Land” and an upcoming theatrical feature film release and video release based on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” During the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America Strike, he moved to young adult fiction and wrote “The New Kid.”

“I’m in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The headline is ‘Screenwriter on Medicare Still Working,’” Mathews jokes.

Mathews has seen a lot during his career. But in 2016, he faced a new challenge: working with his daughter Manon.

The film was “Holiday Breakup,” written and directed by Mathews and starring Manon. A zany romantic comedy taking place over the holidays, it’s available now on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, Xfinity and other cable networks in the U.S. and Canada. “It was fun but it was very challenging being the dad,” Mathews remembers. “There was a lovemaking scene. It’s a PG movie and very sweet. But when we were filming it, she said ‘Dad, why don’t you go out and get a cup of coffee?’”

“Holiday Breakup” was written as a star vehicle for his daughter. Ironically, by the time Mathews got full distribution for the film, Manon’s career had already taken off, propelled in a different direction than he would’ve predicted.

Manon had started posting on Vine, the social media service where users created and shared six-second-long looping video clips. Launched in 2012, and discontinued by parent company Twitter in 2017, Vine captured users’ hunger for short, easy-to-digest entertainment. Popular Vine personalities used their creativity to make the most of the medium, telling funny, original and surprising narratives in the six-second time frame.

Manon built up a following of three million users (see her Vines here). Recognizing the opportunity to reach younger audiences, corporations like Bud Light and Pepsi tapped her to be a social media influencer. Manon took her dad to the Super Bowl as part of the role, and in Paris, they were recognized by fans in the Louvre.

“Just think about it. At that time, she had 3 million followers, and 2.5 million users a week are watching ‘Mad Men,’” her dad reflects. “What’s interesting about social media is there’s no middleman anymore. You don’t need TV stations or studios to make money.”

Even though Vine is no longer around, Manon has a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, where she continues to share her original work. She also still goes out on auditions, with appearances on shows like “Broad City” and the web series “Anti-Social.” Her newest effort is a female sketch comedy series “Sorry Not Sorry,” available on Verizon’s go90 app.

Mathews and Manon have a relationship that he calls “symbiotic,” with daughter learning from father and vice versa. “She has a healthy respect for writing—you can’t improvise an entire movie. She knows what it’s like to sit down and rewrite,” he says. “Watching her I’ve seen you can make a showcase piece or short piece. There’s no one way to do it.”

The latest: Mathews’ new young adult book, “Bad Girl Gone,” which was released in August by Thomas Dunne Books for St. Martin’s Griffin and is available from booksellers nationwide. It’s already been optioned by pop star Iggy Azalea, whose fans are in the book’s target demographic. Mathews’ career continues to evolve to keep up with the newest trends, just like his daughter’s.

“You never know what’s going to come your way. The key is to be flexible,” Mathews says, echoing advice he gives UW students who call him up for advice. “Some people will love your work; some people will hate it. The key is to just do what you love to do.”