Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Questions: Cameron Matthews (Part 2 of 3)

We're back with more of my questions for and answers from Cameron Matthews. Part 1 is here.

In part 1, I started with basic questions to learn more about Cameron. I also wanted to learn more about the journey to starting Wrestler4Hire and operating it, so that's what today's interview is about. There's even more here. Possibly too much, but I didn't want to break up the topic.

We're back with more from Cameron

Starting Wrestler4Hire

Q1. Congratulations on becoming a producer. What made you decide to do your own thing?

Thank you. I think :) I don't look at myself as a producer, but I guess technically I am. I like to think of myself as just a guy with some ideas and a solid fan base of people who support what I'm doing. I'm always listening to what people say, so I'm always adjusting and improving...but the label producer makes me sound cooler than I am.

For years, I'd invite my indy pro wrestling friends and underground wrestling friends to various parts of the world to film custom requested videos from fans of mine. It turned into a full-time job and allowed me to chase my dream of being a big time pro wrestler. I had a feeling that I needed something more than just custom requested videos to make this a legitimate job, so I decided I'd venture out a little bit. Try selling a few videos that I shot in-between custom requested matches turned out to be a good idea. I knew I was about to stop wrestling professionally as often as I was. My body wasn't recouping like it used to and my mind just wasn't full of the passion like it was. I used to travel with my friends to pro indy events, but now it seemed I was traveling everywhere alone, so it wasn't as fun anymore.. Ron Sexton was and is a huge help in progressing me to where I am today. One of the nicest, most sincere dudes I've ever met. I have not one bad word to say about that man. He's encouraged me to do my own thing for years. He even offered me a "producing" job and a place to live if I wanted to shoot for him back in 2010/2011 out in Los Angeles. 
Cameron had to think about what's next

Cameron bonded with Ron Sexton
while getting his butt kicked
(CF127 Cameron v Brett Barnes v Joey Ryan)

Q2. You’ve worked for a lot of different places. What are some lessons you've learned, good or bad, from seeing so many groups from the inside? Do you still get along with the producers you worked with? Or is it tough now that your 'competition' for them?

I think I get along with them. Although, I hear through the grapevine that one of them talks negatively about me, but he's never done that to my face or when communicating with me, so who knows if that is fact. I speak to Mike from Thunder's Arena often. I enjoyed working with him and being around him very much. Ron from Can-Am is a huge help and I think he is one of my favorite people in the world. I owe him more than I'll ever be able to re-pay. Philip and Nigel from Scotland Scrappers were a delight to work for and fun to hang with. Definitely class acts.

I wish not to speak ill of anyone who I think may have misled me (and my friends) with false words and promises. Shane Stevens (amongst other aliases) is the only one I'll ever go on record as saying I dislike strongly. He ripped me off for $5000 and I've heard he is notorious for that. There is another guy who produces videos in the UK who I hired to produce content for me, but after producing 2 worthwhile matches and 5 shit matches (which featured heavily misrepresented models), he flaked off and told me he fulfilled his contract (which would've had him completing 12 matches, so he's still 5 matches off).

I don't believe in competition though. I wish for everyone to do well and succeed. I do my thing and aim to please the people interested in my product. I obviously wish to be #1, but I think there is plenty of room for everyone...as long as I am the King of the Underground ;)
Cameron @ Can-Am
(CF125 Cameron v Brett Barnes)

Cameron @ Scotland Scrappers

Cameron @ Thunders
(Cameron v Brendan Cage)

Q3. Why does W4H exist? Why is it called W4H? How would you describe W4H? What's your vision for W4H?

I thought I had to get away from being the face of the product (ewww, awful word), so I decided Wrestler4Hire fit what I wanted to do. Produce videos, hire out wrestlers for sessions, sell some worn speedos, etc.

As for the vision, I want to be the Walmart of gay wrestling world. I'm not sure that's the nicest way to word it, but here is what I mean...

I want to be where you go every week to get what you need. I want to have it all and for a very reasonable price. I have this idea to be like Netflix where I allow you to stream loads of content for a low price every month while still having access to purchase individual titles that may not be currently available to stream. However, to do that I need to get my subscriber base up. So I venture out into new areas while hoping to attract more users to the site.

I think you can have good content at a reasonable price and allow people to experience things they may not have known they liked. I'm on the right track. Just gotta keep chugging along. Again, I'm always open to ideas.
I agree that you do get to stream loads of content
for a low monthly price - 18-20 videos for $25/month

Q4. What’s the biggest challenge with being the boss? What's the biggest reward?

I'm terribly unorganized. If you saw how I keep my house and "office" area, you'd wonder how I find anything, but it's organized so I know where it is. However, sometimes I'll forget to book hotels for the wrestlers until the last minute or sometimes I'll forget to save phone numbers...and occasionally I'll forget who is coming in for a shoot. Luckily I have a couple friends who assist me with the business end of things. I always try to hire an assistant for the day to help with model releases and photos and grabbing photocopies of IDs and all the other "office" type tasks.

I'm always working though. No days off. That can be exhausting, but I get to be the boss. I make my own schedule (for the most part) and I make my own hours (for the most part). I'm answering these questions at 3am. This is when my brain works best, so it benefits me to be my own boss. I can edit videos, photos, answer emails, whatever during these odd hours when most people are asleep.
Cameron works 24/7 to bring videos to us
(W4H Marco Thunder v Rendell Zebu)

Q5. You feature a lot of 100% squashes. Is this driven by you, the talent or the sales? Do you plot out the matches or are the wrestlers  involved? Are there guys who insist on only being a heel or a jobber?

The honest answer is I had a cool private collector who allowed me to sell lots of videos that he ordered for his personal collection. He was a huge fan of squash matches, so that it what I had an abundance of. They sold very well and got me a great start, but now I'm focusing on other matches.

My current goal is to get a bunch of competitive matches...and some real mat wrestling, which I've been doing in the recent shoots.

The ideas come from a few places...what I get e-mailed about from fans, what my mind comes up with, what I hear through the grapevine, what my buddies think up while hanging out at the shoot and what the wrestlers think up, too. It's a mix, for sure. I like everyone to have input.

As for the jobber and heel roles, some guys are naturally jobbers/submissive types, while others (like Guido Genatto) are complete heel/dominant/alpha types. A few people can play back-and-forth, too. I think there is something for everyone and I like to allow people to be who they are for the most part...and, again, I'm very open to trying new things. If someone whispers in my ear an idea they think will work while we are shooting then I'll try it out. I'm learning as I go and I like that I've surrounded myself with the right people who want to see me succeed and enjoy "working" with me.
W4H does try a lot of new and interesting things
(W4H Maverick v Guido in a dog collar match)

Q6. When you had your blog format, the comment section was very illuminating for me. It often felt like it was impossible to please people. From the storyline to the action, someone was always complaining. I really don't think I could handle that, but was it hard for you? Were you prepared for the sense of entitlement folks seem to have?

It was frustrating. I can't lie about that. Actually, I don't ever like to lie. It still frustrates me sometimes, but I look at it like this. I have to hear the good and the bad. I can't just listen to the praise of what I'm doing, because that'll get me in a rut. Recently, I've been told I am the guy with the good looking muscle guys and that I don't have enough twinks and that's kind of what I was known as. I always considered myself versatile, but that's neither here nor there. So, I went out and found some twinks. The response has been great. I need to hear what you want and I need to hear what you like. 
I didn't ask for more twinks ... the big boys work for me
(W4H Flash LaCash v Guido Genatto)

Q7. One of the trickiest things for me as a writer is balancing fan expectations of certain characters against my own desire to switch things up. Do you face the same challenges? I think about someone like Alex Oliver. Many fans must enjoy him getting demolished, but others might get bored with it. Do you think about these kinds of things? How do you try to satisfy so many different tastes?

It's funny you'd mention Alex Oliver particularly. The guy is one of the best I've ever seen. He came to me with absolutely zero wrestling experiences and in his most recent matches, he's in there with pro wrestlers and underground stars who have loads of matches and he's grabbing holds and trash talking. I think you have to let characters develop and allow people to get comfortable.

Recently, I used Tyler Royce at a shoot and he was very timid, but Ty Alexander whispered in my ear with some great thoughts and that proved the perfect way to get him out of his shell.

I always want to do new, exciting, fresh stuff. So I try some crazy ideas that I have every so often because I have to keep me engaged in the product, too. I have to enjoy what I'm doing, which I do 95% of the time easily.

But, I'm just the guy behind the camera. My goal is to give you what you want as often as I can. Who cares what I want, right? :)
Alex found his role ... he even jobs to other jobbers!
(W4H Alex Oliver v Zach Reno)

Ty's a real team player, jobbing to help Tyler relax
(W4H Ty Alexander v Tyler Royce)

Q8. How is the superhero stuff going? It's a particular passion of mine, but it seems like something that is tough to make work.

Most of the guys I do videos with are keen to do the superhero stuff. It breaks up the serious wrestling into some silly fun in some neat costumes. And, surprisingly, it is very popular. I originally did a couple costumed hero videos for a private collector. While scrolling the internet late one night, I found out it was a fairly popular fetish, so I thought "why don't I try doing more of these?" then I did. 
It is difficult to do the superhero stuff. However, I think each new video things improve. Certainly, the feedback from fans helps improve the content on the site. If you have any pointers for better videos, I am 100% open to hearing it.
Wow, superhero videos work for fans AND wrestlers!
(W4H Superman (Mark Muscle) v Robin (Will Favero))

My Observations ...

(1) Cameron's responses seem more laissez-faire about all this than I expected. I mean, he's obviously smart, driven and ambitious, but the characters and action are places where it feels like he's just kind of letting the chips fall where they may. I'm surprised he wouldn't map things out more clearly then adjust based on results. Maybe there's a secret in-depth content strategy and it's none of my business, but he doesn't like to lie, so I'm going to assume there isn't.

(2) I do like how open Cameron is to reacting to fan feedback. He's much more open to it than I am. LOL. I mean, I love feedback, but I seldom change my plans because of it. However, I'm not selling my product. It's great that he listens, but I do get worried about a few vocal fans driving bad decisions. I suppose that as long as he balances it with real metrics, it's not a bad idea.

(3) Considering how many places Cameron has worked, I'm glad that almost all of his experiences were good ones. I knew Cameron and Ron Sexton were buddies, but good to hear that he has enjoyed working with most everyone. I like the callout for Mr. Mike at Thunders, since he's been pretty good to me, too. While he might not "believe in competition", it must exist. There are only so many wrestlers and only so many fan dollars to go around.

(4) I'm intrigued by the whole private collector(s) thing. Who are they? What is their motivation? Do they think it's worth it? A lot of the groups are doing these custom/private matches, but I simply don't understand it. I can't imagine how I would ever justify the expense of a whole video, unless I got a cut of the sales. I mean, one video costs what I spend on a year's worth of videos.

(5) Obviously I am very happy to hear that wrestlers like playing superhero and fans are enjoying them. This is something I fully support! Keep it up.

That's it for part two. Next week, it's the final two areas - being a wrestler for hire and talent/recruiting.

Alex

9 comments:

  1. Great article, like knowing the going ons behind the scene. Truly there is a lot of work involved in this line of work. I'm so proud of my friend Cameron and envy that he's doing what he enjoys for a living. One can't ask for anything more.

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    1. Thanks! Cameron does seem to love what he's doing. I'm very curious about how things work, so today and next week are very much that.

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  2. Private video Collection makes perfect sense in a way. In a big way HA. From a certain POV for the wrestlers it has to be awesome to be asked to do private matches. If I'm not mistaken, and I just read this somewhere online, so take it with a grain of salt, Justin Bieber (That name doesn't belong in this blog I know) hired The Rock to wrestle on one of his birthdays. Most singers are paid to perform for private gatherings or privately to powerful people. So it makes sense that there are people willing to pay for private matches. If a new wrestler reads this comment, you should do it! Youre a performer! LOL Besides that's more money. Anyone looking to be a performer of any kind should expect that. Singers, actors, wrestlers etc...
    That's just my take on that part. LOL

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Having live entertainment is different to me. The wrestlers aren't coming to the commissioner's home, just taping a match.

      As I say, I'm intrigued by these people, I'm not judging how they spend their money. I'm just curious about people.

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  3. hi Alex,
    I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the interview! Thus far, it’s been extremely interesting … great work on your part Alex (…and from CM as well!)

    The discussion about “Private Collectors” is another area that I have not been privy to as well… I have noted that Thunders and a few other sites mention that but I’ve never really given it much thought … it seems like it could be a fascinating topic for the Cave

    I loved CM's work for Can-Am and their various "series" and I have purchased from Cameron in the past --- probably need to look into W4H offerings again. (I’m probably in the minority, but I think I found his previous site to be easier to navigate and W4H is one of the very few sites that requires a log in “just” to shop/browse … I was never a big fan of Thunders but their marketing and talent gets better and better as even more companies enter this video market)
    peace!
    RayAtL



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    1. Hi, Ray! Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you're finding it interesting. That's an interesting point on The Cave. I imagine there would be a few rich guys who'd want to direct a few of their studs. :)

      I actually sent an email when the W4H new site launched saying that requiring all that info went against web best practices. There was a reason for it, but I don't remember it.

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  4. Your interview was really well done and very interesting. Nice Job! It did answer a query for me as to why they stopped having the number of squash matches they did.

    I was probably one of the earliest subscribers to his site (I subscribed to it before it was even launched - a bit of an accident but happy I did) and a lot of that was driven by the number of squashes that had with more muscular wrestlers. Based on his interview that seems to be an oddity of how it started.

    Most of the other sites tend to be much more focused on competitive matches which generally do not interest me (nothing wrong, just not of my interest). JF's site was the other good one for it, but it's activity has definitely waned a lot lately. MDW had them but in general the skill level of the wrestlers for Cameron's site was significantly higher. Something to give Cameron a lot of credit for.

    A little disappointing to find out that based on his interview that there will not be many of those in the future, but understand that he wants to deliver a broader range of products.

    Hoping he still has a decent number of matches that correspond with my interests but even if not he has done an extremely good job with his site. Regardless of whether I stay subscribed to the site I will probably keep checking in on it as he has been very impressive in its development in a relatively short amount of time. Kudos to him for all of his hard work.

    Theurgist5

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    1. Thanks! I think one of the best things here is that Cameron is very receptive to feedback, so if you want more of something, let him know.

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