Matt Villines, director at Saturday Night Live and Funny or Die, has passed away after a battle with cancer

One of our most accomplished and well-loved graduates and team members, Matt Villines, tragically passed away on Saturday, July 9th following a years-long battle with cancer at age 39. His remarkable filmmaking accomplishments and humble personality only add to the loss of a warm-hearted friend to all who knew him. In his absence, Matt has left us with a vast catalog of hysterical short films that shed light on his creative genius and meteoric rise as a storyteller.

Matt Villines

Matt Villines in class at The Los Angeles Film School, courtesy of Instagram user @overlookedpro

Matt, an ambitious creative from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry after being inspired by comedy directors, including Harold Ramis and John Hughes. Upon his arrival in Hollywood, Matt quickly got to work, learning everything he could about filmmaking, with a focus on directing. We first met Matt Villines when he started as a student at The Los Angeles Film School in 2002. After graduating in 2003, Matt worked on campus as our Equipment Manager, where he was known for his warmth, kind heart and generosity with students. While he wasn’t assisting students with gear and providing invaluable insights and laughter, he was diligently working in the field, which would set forth a career that would rise to incredible heights.

Matt Villines met directing partner Osmany “Oz” Rodriguez while the two of them worked in our Equipment Room. The duo quickly forged a creative bond, and started to make short comedic videos together. While the Equipment Manager at LAFS, Matt joined Oz in directing comedy shorts for the Will Ferrell co-founded comedy website, Funny or Die. For four years, Matt and Oz created comedic gold for the page, and together helmed some of their most popular videos. Here is a collection of them to enjoy.

Sense of Smell with Bryan Cranston

Bridges on Bridges with Beau Bridges

Ooh Child

After working for Funny or Die for four years, Mike and Oz were hired by Saturday Night Live. Their creative work continued to shine on the veteran television series, drawing in audiences of adoring fans. Matt’s charming personality and dedication to quality drew allowed him to work with entertainment icons over the years, including Will Ferrell, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and many, many more. Here is a small selection of the staggering number of quality video segments that Mike and Oz directed together.

Sad Mouse

The Jay Z Story

Remembering Matt Villines on Twitter

Seth Meyers
RIP Matt Villines who was a wonderful person and a terrific director.

Bryan Tucker (head writer at Saturday Night Live)
140 characters isn’t enough, so I’m leaving this here @mattandoz

Bobby Moynihan
Was lucky enough to get to work with Matt Villines at SNL and I am going to miss him deeply. Wonderful guy.

With well over 50 comedy shorts under his belt, and after directing the 2015 Emmy-Nominated episode of Last Man on Earth, “C to the T,” Matt Villines never stepped working hard at what he loved, and we all gain from his incredible creative productions. In addition to his work in television and on web series, Matt, along with Oz, co-directed the feature film, Brother In Laws, starring Bill Pullman and Gillian Jacobs. The Taran Killam-written film has not yet been released.

We would like to extend our condolences to Matt’s family and friends, and are grateful to have had him as a promising student, excellent team member, and comedic visionary.

We would like to invite anyone able to donate to Matt’s wife, Linda Villines, as she works through this difficult time. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated, and go a long way in making sure that Linda is supported through these hard times. You can donate to her directly through You Caring.

What are your favorite memories of Matt Villines? Please share them on social media, and tag us in your post. On Twitter @lafilmschool and on Instagram @losangelesfilmschool.

Matt Villines

Matt Villines (left), working on set at Saturday Night Live with Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen

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