Ready to answer your questions about my latest film, POINT AND SHOOT. Film website: Official trailer: Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution website:

Comments: 79 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

TheEarthIsFalling7 karma

What're are some important facts about the Libyan war that most Americans aren't aware about?

MatthewVanDyke5 karma

We were organized into a real army, the National Liberation Army of Libya. We weren't renegade militias running around like some are in Libya now, and there weren't radical Islamist groups fighting alongside us in the war. Those problems started after the revolution was over.

beernerd7 karma

What exactly does an international security analyst do? And how did you land that gig?

MatthewVanDyke8 karma

I provide analysis of international security issues, such as the conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. One aspect of the work is consulting the media, NGO workers, and others on security issues relevant to their work in those countries. Other times I contribute to security reports on a conflict zone that are published by security firms. But mostly I appear on radio and television networks like MSNBC, Fox News, BBC, etc. as an a analyst and commentator about current events related to the international security (Syria, ISIS, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Ukraine, etc.) My masters degree is in Security Studies from Georgetown University, and combined with my unique experiences on the ground over the years in some of the conflict zones has media outlets calling me regularly to appear as a commentator.

inta7imar1 karma

How do you get the information about the conflict zones you are reporting on (in the cases of those where you are not on the ground)?

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

I spent four years in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia making connections with many people on the ground in several countries. I also have extensive professional contacts because of my work as well. I am in regular contact with these sources to get accurate, inside perspectives on what is happening that I use to help inform my analysis of the conflicts.

lzp96 karma


MatthewVanDyke4 karma

My work comes with serious security concerns and risks, but they are risks that I accept and have to deal with.

inta7imar5 karma

From hearing you speak before, it seem you don't really know Arabic very well. Do you feel this limits your ability to perform as a journalist in the Arab world? Do you think that journalists working on the Arab world should know how to speak Arabic?

MatthewVanDyke4 karma

I am not a journalist, I am an activist and filmmaker. But to answer your question, one doesn't need to know Arabic very well if they have a good, trusted translator with them. Most foreign journalists and filmmakers use translators. I do speak Arabic, but I am not fluent.

RoosterDog5 karma

Hi Matt. Point and Shoot looks incredible, I just watched the trailer. 2 questions for you, I am a Baltimore native (like you?), any plans to screen it in town? Charles Theater? And, I always believed there's no way for people like me who don't go on adventures half way around the world, entrenched in a revolution like you were, to really understand what's happening in places like Libya and the Arab Spring. How do you think films like yours and storytellers like you give us a glimpse into that world? Will we ever really get it? Life in the States for the most part, is pretty lush. Thanks for all you do, I never heard of you but I'll spend some time today checking out your work.

MatthewVanDyke1 karma

Yes, the film will be at the Charles Theater starting on November 25, and I'll be at some screenings to answer audience questions. You can find a list of theaters to see the film here: The film has been scheduled for 50 theaters around the country so far and more are being added, so you can check the website once in awhile to find new cities and theaters that have been added. I think that those who see Point and Shoot will really understand what the Libyan Revolution was about and who the Libyan rebels were. It gives you a very unique look behind the scenes and from within the revolution.

MaxRoland4 karma

Whats the story behind the F2000 battle rifle that you had in Lybia? did you find it? buy it?

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

It was captured from Gaddafi's forces. Gaddafi had purchased a small number of them years before.

MmmmDiesel4 karma

What do you wish people knew more about, and what do you wish you yourself knew more about?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

I wish people knew what their passion in life was so they could pursue it. I wish I knew more about how to fix mechanical problems, that would be really useful in the field.

realist704 karma

Hi Matt, how did you make the leap from being a journalist to actually joining the fight? What was it like to take on that role? I know this is a more generalized question, so thank you for giving us any insight.

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

I had been to Libya in 2008 while traveling through North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia by motorcycle from 2007-2010. I had always liked Libya the most out of all the countries I had traveled to during those years, and had made great friends there. When the revolution started, my friends were telling me about bad things that were happening to them and their families. One of them basically asked why nobody was helping them. I realized that I could not sit at home and watch this happen to people I knew and cared about. So I went to fight in the revolution, because I believed in the cause and had a personal connection to the country and people there. I have written about it some here as well:

Tinamy_Wiig3 karma

What kind of documentaries are the most fun to make?

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

All of the ones I have filmed or released have been very difficult to make, although there are of course many times that filming the motorcycle adventures was a lot of fun.

sex_with_a_panda3 karma

What were your thoughts when you were taken a PoW? How were you treated? Did you think you would ever see your bed at your home again?

MatthewVanDyke4 karma

I thought I would be tortured. I thought I would be executed or spend decades as a prisoner of war. Then later I had auditory hallucinations as a side effect of solitary confinement (which is known to happen to those held in solitary confinement), and I thought something different. Some of those auditory hallucinations are in Point and Shoot, during the prison scenes recreated using the excellent animation of Joe Posner. I wrote some about my time as a POW here:

clayHarvest3 karma

On the lighter side, what is the most unusual food you have ever ate?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

Camel meat in Mauritania. It was cheaper than buying beef.

thinkwalker3 karma

Did you see any refugee camps in your travels?

If so, what struck you about them?

what resources did they need the most?

and what would you do differently if asked to design a refugee camp?


MatthewVanDyke4 karma

I have visited some Syrian refugee camps and it is a very sad situation for people to be displaced from their homes. The needs vary from camp to camp, but what they need most is for the Assad regime to fall so the war will end and they can return home. As for the design of refugee camps, that is not my field and I am hesitant to comment on it, but modular, pre-fabricated housing would be a better alternative than tents.

Warrus3 karma

Have you ever had am experience where you thought to yourself "I need to get the hell out of here?" Where and why?

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

Yes, many years ago when on a date that wasn't going well. And after getting hit with shrapnel from a mortar in Libya and realizing it was time to take cover.

hpcisco79654 karma

A bad date is the equivalent of getting hit with shrapnel?

That must have been one bad date. Care to share the story?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

It was many years ago, before I met my girlfriend, Lauren Fischer, whom I have been with for nearly 9 years now (she is also in Point and Shoot).

weaponiz2 karma

Matt - Thanks so much for doing this. As an American I love guns. What's you've favorite weapon and what type of gun gave you the biggest issues i the field?

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

The AK-47 for its reliability. The DShK was the most problematic.

realist702 karma

Matt, Also what was your favorite Maryland band? :)

Julian_EX2 karma

What is your opinion about Turkey and the Syrian Revolution? Will Recep Tayyip Erdogan do something about it?

MatthewVanDyke5 karma

I do not believe that Erdogan has done enough, and I don't believe he will do much more.

BongDaddy692 karma

What is your opinion of the YPG. In your opinion, are they destabilizing by a means of creating an other or are they helping the Iraqi government with their war against the IS?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

The YPG is doing an excellent job of fighting ISIS in northern Syria.

fredeasy1 karma

What are your thoughts on the material that the SEA leaked after hacking you. Was that all real?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

Of course it wasn't real. The press looked at it and determined that the material had been altered and faked, which is why nobody in the media reported on it. The alterations and the accusations that the SEA made sure were funny though.

AdamSandlersFatFace0 karma

Are you related to Dick Van Dyke? If not, do you wish you were?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

I am not related to Dick Van Dyke. I don't wish I was, but it would be nice to have a wealthy relative to help fund my work.

planner1988-2 karma

A close friend of mine has a lot of military experience and has considered getting on a plane to turkey to join the fight against bad people and stuff. do you have any advice for him?

MatthewVanDyke5 karma

I am routinely contacted by people who want to fight overseas and I give them all the same advice: don't go. If you don't have years of experience in the region, trusted contacts on the ground, and some other factors in your favor, you are unlikely to be effective and won't make much of a contribution, and you will very likely get killed or kidnapped. Western hostages are worth millions of dollars, and even moderate groups may kidnap him and sell/trade him to ISIS or another group.

ThatGuy2193-3 karma

Why did you go on TV claiming to be a close friend of James Foley upon his death only to use it as a platform to promote your film?

MatthewVanDyke6 karma

I was a friend of James Foley and that has been publicly known for years. Those media appearances were in August, shortly after James was killed, before we started promoting the film in the media, so I'm not sure what you are referring to about promoting the film during them. The film may have been mentioned if the host brought it up during the interview, or because James Foley appears in Point and Shoot, but out of the dozens of interviews I did at that time about James I can't remember if/when the film ever came up during an interview. Those interviews were done to help tell the world who James was and what he died for, and to help his legacy. The Foley family was and continues to be supportive of my media appearances talking about what a great man and journalist James was.

ThatGuy21933 karma

I'd like to turn everyone's attention to Exchibit A: A Fox News appearance where the second half of the entire interview focuses on "Not Anymore." Indeed, you gave them a clip from your film to play during your segment. Also in this interview, as you have in many other interviews, you talk about safety for journalists in Syria when you've openly admitted in this thread that you are not a journalist.

You had to provide them that clip so they could plug your film for 50% of the interview, so your above statement about how you "can't remember" such plugging or that it was unintentional or completely up to the hosts is either an obvious fiction or you are very forgetful. Would you be interested in explaining this?

MatthewVanDyke6 karma

Like I said, if the host brought something up, I replied. I don't get to choose the questions, and out of the dozens of interviews I did around that time you found an appearance that clearly wasn't about James, but about two topics, James Foley and a film I made about a Syrian journalist and the dangers facing journalists working in Syria, which was called "Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution." It wasn't an appearance that was about James in which I brought up any of my work, the host brought up the film because it was relevant to a discussion about the security of journalists working in Syria, and because I had experience filming in Syria under similar conditions to what James Foley and others faced. They obtained the footage they showed from the film because it is available on YouTube. It wasn't provided to them for the interview, and I wasn't expecting them to talk about the film at all. I was surprised that they shifted the focus of the interview to that film considering that the film had been released a year earlier and I haven't done many media appearances lately to promote it. I think they brought up the film because we were talking about the situation in Syria and the dangers facing journalists working in Syria, which is a topic brought up by the film. As for talking about the security of journalists in Syria, security studies is my field of expertise and I have a masters' degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University. I am a security analyst, and I routinely provide security advice to journalists working in Syria, and have contributed to security reports used by the media and NGOs when planning their trips to cover the conflict because I have access to sources and information on security threats that they might otherwise not be aware of.

ThatGuy2193-2 karma

TV news programs routinely do "pre-interviews" with the guest and producers before the program, in which they also ask how you'd like to be introduced and go over the breadth of possible conversation topics. Are you saying that in all of these interviews, you never heard them mention your film, but that, nonetheless, it is mentioned at least once in nearly every single interview you do by the hosts? And why did you never object to this promotion of your film, particularly in the above case?

I'd also like to point to the other issue: where you routinely spoke on behalf of Foley and Sotloff, rather explicitly. Do you not find that a bit shameless?

MatthewVanDyke2 karma

TV news programs very rarely do pre-interviews. In the past three months I have been on radio or television around 75 times, and only 2 or 3 did a pre-interview. You don't contradict or question a host live on the air. It is insulting and unprofessional.

ThatGuy21932 karma

Now let's look at Exhibit B: An appearance on BBC World News. In this clip, from September (not August when you claim they all were) you say, "I am hesitant to speak [for Steven Sotloff]" but then go on to speak for him anyway.

If you noticed, Steven and Jim's journalist colleagues have seldom gone on TV or print, yet you shameless continue to parade yourself as someone who can/could speak for them.

MatthewVanDyke1 karma

Most of the appearances about James Foley were in August, as I said. Steven was killed in September, so of course those appearances were in September. Several of Steven Sotloff and James Foley's colleagues have gone on television and written articles about them, including many who didn't bother to attend the two memorial services for James. I know they didn't show up for James and his family, because I was there and those people, including yourself, weren't there. The Foley family is supportive of me using my media platform to honor their son and talk about his legacy, and for you to question their judgment or approval is quite insulting to them.

ThatGuy2193-1 karma

I know for a fact you weren't at the Foley memorial event in NYC at the Half King because I've spoken to people who were there and according to them they never saw you.

Also, my point about your shamelessness is largely due to the fact that you openly speak on behalf of the dead, a criticism which you didn't respond to.

MatthewVanDyke3 karma

There were two memorial services for James Foley, and neither of them was at The Half King. Some people got together socially for beers at the Half King on a Friday night in New York and said it was for James. That Friday night I was not in New York, but if I had been in New York I would have gone. But it that Friday night was not one of the memorial services/events. There were two memorial services for James Foley, one on August 24 and the other on October 18, both of them in New Hampshire (with an evening memorial event also in Maine on October 18 that was organized by the Foley family and was by invitation-only, which I and my girlfriend Lauren were invited to and which we also attended). The August 24 memorial service was two days AFTER some people got together socially on a Friday night at The Half King, and none of those people who had beers at The Half King bothered to show up for the real, actual memorial service/event on Sunday to pay their condolences to the Foley family and remember James in a proper way. This bothered me a lot because those who went drinking at The Half King and said it was to remember James Foley were clearly in New York that weekend yet didn't make the drive from New York to New Hampshire to pay their respects to James and offer their condolences to the Foley family. Those people you spoke to who were at the Half King, but then didn't go to the real memorial for James two days later because they didn't want to make the drive, ought to be ashamed of themselves. Here are photos of the two programs from the two memorial services for James Foley, which I have because I was at each of them: August 24 memorial service, October 18 memorial service,