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An Interview with Michael Matteo Rossi, Director of The Handler

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2021

Films directed by Michael Matteo Rossi on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie The Handler - in a few words, what is it about?


The Handler follows Ryker Dune, a Marine who came home and got in contact with a mod boss Vinnie to do odd jobs for cash. As Ryker realizes there is no way "out" of this nightmare life, he purposely throws a job, and Vinnie seeks revenge by sending a swarm of mercenaries after him to finish Ryker off.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing The Handler?


It should be no surprise to anybody who has seen the film that my influences are mostly the action films from the 80s and 90s; from the cheesy oneliners, to the nonstop action feel - I wanted to throw it back to that where people could kick back, grab some popcorn and enjoy an entertaining film and escape into some nostalgia with it.


To what extent could you actually identify with The Handler's protagonist Ryker, and the desparate situation he's in?


That's an interesting question and I would say I don't really identify with him, but he does kick some serious ass in the film! :) 


What can you tell us about The Handler's approach to the action genre?


I wanted some things to be purposely over-the-top. If you're looking to break down this film in pure logic and realism, go somewhere else because you're supposed to suspend your disbelief at some points too, that's the fun of it and the escape into films of this genre.


The Handler features more than its fair share of fight scenes - so do talk about the stunt work in your movie for a bit?


It's a good opportunity to give a special shout-out to Matt Erdems who was our fight coordinator and also played the role of Lukas in that epic fight scene towards the end. We went through all the fight scenes and he helped draft them out with my supervision and was so damn important in the film and really worked with Chris Levine [Chris Levine interview - click here] in such a short amount of time to get him in the best fighting shape he could be in, and I feel it works.


Do talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!


This was actually one of the most enjoyable filming experiences I've had. All the cast and crew were completely in tune with our objective, and we knew every single day we had a crapload of action and fight scenes to cover and it went really smoothly I think from the shared trust of everybody on set. My right hand man was Chris Levine (Ryker), who I trusted to carry this film and he trusted me to make sure he doesn't get hurt, haha.


What can you tell us about The Handler's key cast, and why exactly these people?


I had worked with most of the key cast before including Chris Levine, Michael Pashan, Adam Carbone, Rachel Alig, Cathy Baron and more so the trust was already there and I was well aware of their talent too. They were all very easy to work with, and when you are on such a tight schedule like we were on this we need all hands on deck, and they powered through brilliantly. Couldn't be more proud of all of them.


You of course also have to talk about the film's main location, and what was it like filming there?


I had shot at this location before but I literally wanted to utilize every single room and part as if it was Ryker's own "playground", and I feel this gave me an opportunity to be very creative with some of the fight and action scenes. We had drone shots, steadi-cam and others and the freedom to do so, so it was a fun ride shooting there for sure.


A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


I honestly feel very fun, positive and stress-free. We shot this a few months after Covid hit, so you would think a lot of people would be on edge like crazy, but thankfully not only did nobody get sick, but it was a fun time where all of us I think were relieved just to get back on set and start working on something creative.


The $64-question of course, where can The Handler be seen?


This link has all the platforms it is on: thehandlermovie

But for somebody who doesn't want to copy and paste that, it is on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube for pay, Vudu and more! 


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Handler?


I think if you are looking for an entertaining indie nonstop action film this is the film to see. If you are expecting a multi million dollar studio film, then yeah you might be wanting to look somewhere else, but again this film is very straightforward in its approach and meaning, and it was purely meant for entertainment to the audience and my hope is they want to rewatch some of the cool fight scenes, etc.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


A few weeks ago I wrapped on my feature film The Sweepers, which is another suspense thriller film I'm very happy about, and we should have a picture locked cut of the film by the spring.


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Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


I want to thank the cast and crew again for all their hard work, and of course the audience and people who go out of their way to watch the film and take the time to rent or buy it - it means so much and helps indie filmmakers like myself, thank you!


Thanks for the interview!



© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD