OVERVIEW: In addition to acting, writing, singing and voice-over, Matthew Carauddo has over 15 years of experience in fencing, staged combat and martial arts (Wing Chun Kung Fu, Jujitsu, Shotokan Karate, Jeet Kune Do, Tricking). Matthew is a licensed fencing instructor, approved and examined by the Federation Francaise D’Escrime (FFE). He has taught hundreds of group fencing classes and one-on-one lessons behind the mask throughout the California bay area at schools, academies of fencing, summer camps, and parks and recreational facilities.
(Photo by Jerry Giles: https://jerrygilesphotography.com/ )
In 1999, Matthew achieved his F.F.E. diploma (Federation Francaise d’Escrime) in France after testing in front of several French fencing masters. He spent years training, sparring, assisting with instruction, and also achieved 12 medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) during competitive saber fencing tournaments in the United States.
Originally studying under Maestro Daniel Tibbetts of California Fencing Academy from 1998-2003, Matthew continued to learn from additional instructors and masters over a total of 12 years, including: Maestro Marcos Lucchetti, Prevost Miklos Benedek, Maestro Tomek Amborski, Maestro Anthony Joslin, and several others.
ORIGINS: Matthew began acting as a child when he was around 9 years old. He pursued on-stage performance throughout middle school, high school, and all throughout college.
At Gunderson High School, for his senior project, Matthew had several objectives in mind, and accomplished them all:
* Direct and perform a sword fight scene from "Cyrano De Bergerac", as well as performing the 'Your Nose Is Rather Large' insult monologue
* Perform two songs from "Little Shop of Horrors" (both as 'the dentist', and as 'Seymour')
* Direct and perform all three fight scenes from "The Princess Bride" (Steel, Strength, Wits), along with the 'love scene' (Buttercup & Westley)
COLLEGE: The scenes from "The Princess Bride" also helped solidify his interest in fencing and staged combat. In 1998, Matthew began studying fencing far more seriously (at an academy of all three weapons). In short time, Matthew was offered a position to instruct youth (and later, adults), and continued to train, learn, study, and become a much more astute instructor.
Beyond swordplay, Matthew acted and worked crew on several shows, including: "Much Ado About Nothing", "Picnic", "Bent", "Lend Me a Tenor", "City of Angels", "And We Were Left Darkling", "The Matchmaker", "The Grand Guignol", "Soup or Salad", "Twilight Zone" episodes (adapted for the stage), and he also adapted and directed a one-act version of "Everyman" (a medieval morality play from the year 1260). There are more examples, but... that's plenty for now. :)
AFTER COLLEGE: After acting in several performances/musicals (primarily at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA), in 2000, Matthew starred as 'Bilbo Baggins' in a stage adaptation of "The Hobbit"--another dream role of his.
Unfortunately, since all of his performances occurred in the 1990's (right up to 2000 with 'The Hobbit'), and also due to lost hard drives over the decades... few images or video clips remain.
To see and hear some examples of Matthew's more recent acting, singing, and voice-over work, visit this link: https://youtube.com/channel/UC9dXWUhBtw0VI5nUOxl1JvA/videos
Matthew’s staged combat experience ranges from choreographing classic plays such as “Twelfth Night” and “Romeo & Juliet”, to children’s performances of “Peter Pan”, “The Three Musketeers”, and, of course, Star Wars-style, live L.E.D. saber combat performances.
'STAR WARS' PERFORMANCES: In 2006, Matthew launched “Balance of Power”, (a series of 100% live staged combat shows) complete with music, vocals, story, character, costumes, and of course: saber combat. He wrote, developed, choreographed, directed and performed in these shows live, on-stage. To see the vast amount of performances created, visit his old performance channel:
Created when Youtube first began (2005/2006), his old channel is stacked with 15 years of videos regarding martial arts, sound work, fight work, performance projects, and some of his vocals/singing.
Matthew is considered to be one of the primary pioneers of the 'sound font' (2006/2007), which is essentially a collection of 'swing' and 'clash' motion effects, power and idle sounds, and more--all designed for custom sound and light driver boards for L.E.D. saber and sword-style props.
To learn more about Matthew's sound work (legacy/archived), visit this link:
Originally designed for Erv Plecter’s original 'Crystal Focus' electronic driver boards, Matthew's 125+ original and unique sound fonts continue to be inspiration for amazing sound design in the saber community. To learn more about Erv Plecter's 'Crystal Focus' (and other) electronics boards, visit: https://plecterlabs.com
Matthew also designed the bulk of sound work within all of his live performances (also seen and heard on the same YouTube channel).
My overall experience is 30+ years as an actor, director, and performer. I was also a licensed fencing instructor since 2000/2001. In addition to instructing and competing as a saber fencer (12+ medals), I also created a website titled SaberCombat.com (now legacy/archived), which revolved around my live fight choreography work, special events and workshops, L.E.D. saber designs, and sound effects work from 2006 to ~2018. However, from 2018 forward, I have primarily been focused on my screenplay and book series/hexalogy (“Diamond Dragons”).
I’ve been writing since I was extremely young. Poetry, short scenes, tales of heroes and villains, silly skits--all of it. But instead of referencing grade and middle school (where I truly began), I’ll start with college. I studied literature, athletics, martial arts, archery, theatre, acting, and directing. When senior year rolled in, I had designs on directing a medieval morality play known as “Everyman” (which is where the term hails from). The earliest known version was written by a man named John Skot, circa ~1260. Since the work was so old, there were no rights/legalities for the University to pay for, so I pitched it to my instructors based on that obviously enticing premise. They reluctantly accepted (expecting the performances to fail). I’d decided to adapt it into a modern, one-act version of the work. It was an enormous task to undertake, but I auditioned the actors, cast them, directed the project, mastered the sound and music for the show, and we performed the project in a black box theatre over several weekends at the college. I believe at least one performance sold out all available tickets (with some exceptions allowed as ‘SRO’), and overall, all of the student one-acts performed were successful.
Discipline. Consistency. Deadlines. Creativity. Reflection. Repeat. :)
And music! A whole lot of it. Mostly from my composer, but also from other wonderfully majestic artists as well (some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with, by paying for licenses to utilize their gorgeous work). I write, edit, illustrate, format, and create while I’m listening to the semblance of the ‘actual score’ to Diamond Dragons. How epic is THAT?! :)
At the moment I typed this reply, both Diamond Dragons I & II were available in digital and print formats. DD1 is ~147,000 words and 60+ color illustrations. DD2 is ~123,000 words and 100 illustrations. The solstices are the keys to my work: summer = digital releases; winter = prints. The solstices also factor into the storytelling of the “Diamond Dragons” hexalogy.
However, technically, books III-VI are also essentially ‘written’, but only via throngs of notes! Don’t worry, they’re well-organized, but I’m currently only ~16,000 words into the manuscript of DD3. I estimate that the third book will probably be akin to that of its predecessors: 120,000+ words and many illustrations. Books IV-VI will appear over 2024-2026’s solstices. Go figure. ;) UPDATE: DD3 is ~149,000 words and 96 illustrations/images. It launched over 2023's solstices (digital = 6.21, print = 12.21).
Finally, although I've not officially published any books prior to the DD series, I've written and publicly launched two of my own live "light saber" fight productions under the title "Balance of Power" (EP I & II). Episode III was written (and partially recorded/mastered), and some test scenes were even filmed(!), but the project was never released in any public environment as a full performance. There was even a BOP IV, but only as a rough treatment/outline.
Although I've mentioned "Balance of Power" (Star Wars/Sci-Fi style), as strange as a reply that this may be, I solely consider myself to be a storyteller. From my perspective, in many ways, all ‘genres’ are merely proverbial coats of paint. Roddenberry always noted that “Star Trek” was a so-called Western set in space. Even DeForest Kelley (‘Dr. Leonard McCoy’) was a previous bad boy of western/cowboy shows and films. As an additional example, “Star Wars” was mostly a soap-opera style epic about a dysfunctional family amidst political warfare. There are many other examples/analogies, but the subjects of jealousy, romance, betrayal, tragedy, triumph, sacrifice, hatred, evil, ethics, compassion, cowardice, and plenty more abound in EVERY genre. So, I prefer to identify myself as a storyteller, because overall... hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk, it’s still rock ‘n roll to me. ;)
I absolutely love nearly every aspect of the processes; I write, edit, illustrate, format, and even design the covers, videos, website, etc. If pressed to decide which was a rougher job, I’d wager that DD2 was more difficult than the first one in many ways. Most of the reasons for this revolve around the fact that “Diamond Dragons” began as a SCREENPLAY, not a book. I developed that initial screenplay over 2018-2019, and even brought aboard a composer to help craft original music (which I love), several V.O. artists to help lend “voices” to many of the primary characters (available to sample via my YouTube channel). While crafting the screenplay, I also hired several concept artists to draw a few images/illustrations--including the demesnes of both the Heroes & Villains. More to the point though, DD2 contains two simultaneous sieges/battles, both of which occur at entirely different locations. I knew that these multi-threaded events were going to be difficult to weave together efficiently, and so, that particular section of book two was probably the most difficult to scribe thus far.
So far, the notes and scenes which I’ve written for DD3-6 have gone swimmingly. :)
It would be massive folly to deprive the world of both the glorious entertainment and shockingly powerful lessons which “Diamond Dragons” has to offer. I’m not being cheeky: there’s a lot going on deep between the folds of the work which no one could be expected to fully comprehend until at least EoY, 2026 (if even then). Beyond that, since my entire background has been as a storyteller for over three decades, there’s no reason to let my laborious studies, skills, and creativity go to waste! Besides, the unique characters in DD are freakin’ awesome! :) I doubt that most any reader could forget almost any of them--not even the minor/supportive cast of characters. Speaking of which...
As a storyteller, I don’t really have a favorite, because I designed them all to be equally powerful via their words and actions. Obviously, I assume that some readers will favor character X over Y (similar to famous stories such as “Lord of the Rings”, “Star Wars”, “The Matrix”, “Harry Potter”, etc.). This is fine, and to be expected. For example, they may hate the villains, and love the heroes. However, each of the characters in the “Diamond Dragons” hexalogy push typical character archetypes further than most may imagine. Unfortunately, some of this meticulous work won’t be recognized until the last chapter of the 6th book strikes readers square on their noses. Those who make it that far will be hard-pressed to forget, though. I can nearly guarantee it.
Tropes and clichés are interesting to discuss. Usually noted as “bad” and “wrong”, the sheer irony remains that they are present in every single story, film, book, or poem you’ve ever experienced. “John Nada” (from John Carpenter’s “They Live”) begins as a powerless, blank slate, nobody/“every man”. So does Luke... Frodo... Harry (to some extent)... Neo... and plenty more. Wise old ‘trope-ish’ wizards also enter the scene in almost every one of these kinds of Joseph Campbell-esque, mythological journeys. “Haemitch” (sp?) from “The Hunger Games” is supposedly the voice of wisdom for Katniss. Obi-Wan was Luke’s mentor. Gandalf was Frodo’s (and Bilbo’s). You probably get the idea. And so, that brings me to my primary point...
Tropes--when executed PROPERLY--are some of the most powerful tools an exemplary storyteller can wield. Sadly, 90% of writers don’t know how to use them. This is similar to how 90% of fight directors and film editors don’t know how to create epic action sequences (such as the legendary Jackie Chan once did). Why? Is it because “they suck”? Are these people imbeciles? Nae, Naesst; not exactly. It’s because Diamonds in the rough are precisely what we’d expect them to be: rare. Exemplary work is neither common nor easily replicated. As it probably should remain.
Although I used to be quite physically active (saber fencing, martial arts flips/twists/kicks, live fight performances), I have to quote Obi-Wan from SW IV: “I’m getting too old for this sort of thing”. Now, my incredible daughter takes up my free hours--which I am extremely glad to spend with her! When she was even younger, I gave her a few saber fencing lessons, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do such things. This will certainly be impossible once 2026 rolls around. Additionally, I often introduce her to old video games (NES, SMS, SNES, 80’s PC/Apple II emulation, etc.). She loves it when I ‘do the voices for the characters', LOL! :) In fact, I recently introduced her to Ion Storm's original "Deus Ex" (1999/2000). She's become enthralled by it, and frankly, I don't blame her. Even 20+ years later, Deus Ex is still one of the best games ever created. This is not simply because of great gameplay, but because of the incredible STORYTELLING. In fact, it's easy to argue just how much "Deus Ex" predicted (unwillingly) about the Future.
Also, I try to integrate 80’s and 90’s films, certain “YouTubers” of yesteryear, famous actors, science videos, etc. into my daughter's life. And sometimes--when it’s relevant--I even show her old performances of dear old Daddy flipping, twisting, and “fighting” (not unlike a ‘jedi’) with L.E.D. saber prop swords (all of which I created myself, by hand). There is at least some interesting catharsis in that, too. ;) When my Time on Earth has expired, all of my actions, influences, and body of work shall all remain behind. Whether one person, many, or more have been inspired by any or all of it over the decades, I suppose I only truly care if my DAUGHTER becomes a better person because of what I’ve said, typed, created, performed, uploaded, drawn, or accomplished. I also hope she reads this page/post one day, too. For, surely, there is almost no reason to believe that she ever will.
Caitlyn’s artwork is at the back of every single “Diamond Dragons” book. :D
I’ve done my fair share of traveling over the decades. Not all of it was directly related to writing, but most of my journeys somehow circled back into aspects of my work. I was a guest on “Anderson Cooper Live”, and also “The Today Show” (NY) in 2014. I traveled to France in 2001 regarding my fencing instructor’s examination/license (by the FFE--which I won’t bother explaining). I competed in many fencing tournaments (12+ medals) all over California, but also in a few other states. I instructed at dozens of workshops and classes all over the SJ/SF California bay area, and attended multiple conventions--often, in bulky costumes with technical electronics which I’d wire into these outfits and helms (such as Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, unique ‘bounty hunters’, Luke Skywalker, etc.). At one particular convention (“BayCon”, SJ, CA) where I was performing one of my live saber fight shows and teaching workshops, I was lucky enough to sit on a panel with author Alan Dean Foster, in 2007. He is/was a great guy, and I’ll never forget our conversation; it was bloody fantastic. :)
I’ve traveled to Iowa to perform and teach as “Darth Vader” and “Kylo Ren” at a children’s library. I performed and taught at a special event for the Symantec Corporation. I used to teach saber fight work/fitness classes at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA (yes, I’m 100% serious, and there’s video evidence of this). And finally, I used to drive back and forth between the Los Angeles and SJ/SF areas very, very often. Traveling gets exhausting though, and I don’t know how much more I want to (or CAN) do any of that unless it’s virtual, and/or via video conferencing! :) Fortunately, I suppose technology makes that far simpler in today’s digital world.
Oh dear. This is a tough one. Not many are going to like my reply. So, I’ll try to prepare them as they read. Quit now if you’re squeamish. Things are about to get a bit heavy, so... here goes, and don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Also, if you quit reading early, don’t try to purport that my thoughts weren’t both sound and yet simultaneously humbling. All set? Copy that; let’s get started, shall we?
Reflecting over decades of my experiences, I can’t think of even one person who offered me truly, viscerally powerful, useful advice. If anything, even the ‘best’ words of proverbial wisdom were tainted by something bizarre, jaded, or required some unattainable factor or aspect. For example, most ‘wisdom’ revolved around MONEY, influence, or connections, although the people offering their advice ignored those crucially important factors. Additionally, they’d often begin their advice with: “Well, why don’t you just ____________”, as if whatever filled in that blank was ever ‘just’ that easy. :) Make of that what you will. Now, I DO understand that other people’s experiences with possible mentors may vary from my own, but I never personally had a truly incredible ‘Gandalf’ (or, should I say ‘Artemis’?). Instead, I had to be my own mentor.
But... instead of leaving you with such a foul-sounding paragraph (how dare I, right? How pretentious!), I’ll offer the wisdom which I found myself often doling out to others over the past few years. But, it gets a little dark, so you’ll need to prepare yourself. And although I’m not going to claim that anyone I told this bothered to listen, I’m not kidding: I told hundreds of people this. Ready? Here it is:
"You only have so many years on this planet to do whatever it is you want to do, hope to do, or feel that you were ‘meant’ to do. I emphatically suggest that you GET GOING. NOW. ‘Tomorrow’ is an interesting concept, yes? Tomorrow, you’ll do X, and Y, and Z. Sure. Perhaps. But how often do you ALSO say: ‘Ya know what? I'm tired. Let’s save ______ for another day, shall we?’ And so, ‘tomorrow’ often morphs into ‘some day’. Some day, I’ll throw out all that old junk. Some day, I’ll quit drinking/smoking/______. Some day, I’ll stop calling the people who don’t call back. Some day, I’ll stop throwing away my money and efforts into things that don’t help my causes and beliefs. Sure. Some day. And yes, I’ll write that book ‘some day’... when I have more TIME.
Well, guess what? Time is the only resource for which no creature may bargain. That is the tagline to Diamond Dragons, book one. You cannot escape it... neither can I... nor has anyone else. And so--again--I emphatically implore you to Reflect upon this somber truth. Because although wisdom is earned by listening, it is not found solely in what we wish to hear. And it certainly takes mountains of courage to face your fears--whether they're physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. SO! You'd better get to work. ;) "
(author, creator, sound/video designer, former actor/performer/martial artist)
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WEBSITE DESIGN: Matthew Carauddo (author / creator of 'Diamond Dragons')
"Before I start, I must see my end..."