Autowriters Spotlight: Matt Farah

Autowriters.com Autowriters Spotlight: Matt Farah

Matt Farah (r) and Tom Morningstar (l)

Matt Farah and his cameraman, Tom Morningstar, work in the “Wild West” of what pundits say will become the heart of consumer automotive communications once the territory has been pacified by protocols and is monetized by a successful paradigm. Rather than enthusiasm expressed in print and delimited by publishers, it is entrepreneurial, visual and self-published with comparatively little capital investment and therefore, plenty of competition.

Farah claimed no print credentials and had no on-air experience producing and hosting shows when he was retained to produce the opinionated Garage 419 episodes in Next New Network’s lineup of Internet video shows. His qualifications, like a host of freelance writers before him, began with a life-long enthusiasm for cars (he read his first car magazine at age 7, raced a Go-Kart at age 9, drove a car at age 11 and read and re-read and saved, he says, every issue of Car and Driver and Road & Track published). Other qualifications were verbal fluidity, energy and in his case, unique on-the-job experience. That began when he discovered his study of photography at the University of Pennsylvania would not lead to the income he desired. Instead, he went to work for Gotham Dream Cars, delivering exotic vehicles to their owners. An enthusiast’s “dream job” which led to the recognition that, like thoroughbred horses, these expensive, powerful machines need to run in order to be fully appreciated.

Farah organized a New York motoring club that provided owners of exotic luxury cars willing to pay $1,000 a year with organized, scouted and shepherded tours where they could safely unleash and enjoy their toys. Part of the membership package that attracted 75 members the first year was videotape of the cars on tour. Produced by Farah and shot by Morningstar, they put them on the Internet and that led to the offer from Next New Network.

After selling the club and 18 months of producing and hosting Garage 419, Farah and Morningstar forsook salaried employment and departed New York for L.A. where, as ad agencies have long known, the weather seldom interferes with a “car shoot.”

They now produce the unscripted, edgy  www.theSmokingTire.com (and YouTube) episodes. In them they have fun and, “do all the things people want to do with cars,” Farah says. He speaks his mind on camera and, “while viewers like an honest opinion,” he wryly notes, “they get upset when I trash-talk the car they drive – as do manufacturers when a car they lent us gets panned.”

In exchange for the uncertainties of freelance they have ownership of their work and whatever rewards it brings. But, without IT, Ad and Promotion departments to help them. This is by far the most difficult part of their enterprise. Farah says. “It takes patience, lots and lots of patience when you’re dealing with big corporations. We negotiated for six months with two different sponsors before we landed them.” In the meantime, they have to shoot new episodes of TheSmokingTire.com, which means hustling press cars, securing locations and leaping numerous other hurdles standing between concept and completion. Helping them with this is www.Autostream.com  an automotive media producers partnership that works to secure sponsors and distribution for the content the partners provide.

Product integration is a promising new revenue source but Farah says it is sometimes difficult to include products in the show without losing credibility or viewers. His advice to anyone thinking about getting into his form of auto journalism is: “Be honest and prolific; go for visual beauty and have plenty of patience – everything takes forever.”

7 Responses to “Autowriters Spotlight: Matt Farah”

  1. Matt FarahJanuary 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Great article about me, except the name of my show and my website are incorrect….

    The Smoking Tire:

    http://www.thesmokingtire.com
    http://www.youtube.com/thesmokingtire
    iTunes “The Smoking Tire” Video Podcast

    -Matt Farah

  2. mackieJanuary 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    haha, matt’s the only one to comment on the article and it’s about him.

    I think the article should also mention his facebook page, where he answer’s 16 yr old’s questions about crap cars via facebook chat. HAHA

  3. BlakeJanuary 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Very nice article. I was curious how you got your start in the “business” Matt. Keep up the good work.

  4. Big CJanuary 30, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Sitting here entombed in ice makes me jealous of Matt and Morningstar’s job all the more. Nice to know there still does exist people willing to chase and live their dream.

  5. andyJanuary 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    I came across smoking tire watching Adam carolla’s car cast. Watched all the episodes on YouTube. Great stuff.
    Nice Bio here.
    Not much stuff like this going on here in Chicago.

  6. Doug HansonMay 9, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Great article about a leading media format for true car enthusiasts…Matt, Zack, Thad & Morningstar are true pioneers of something spun from BBC’s Top Gear for a made for the USA based fan base, but on a much lower budget. Matt …keep up the great work!