Film Like Matt D’Avella – Minimalist Filmmaker Guide

I love watching Matt D’Avella. Here are some notes I’ve taken after watching tons of his videos.

I discovered Matt D’Avella after watching the documentary Minimalism, the documentary he directed, on Netflix. I found him on YouTube short after and was reeled in by his authenticity, humor, vulnerability, and, of course, filmmaking talent. In this article, I want to go through some of my main observations that I think make a video a Matt D’Avella video.

If you haven’t seen one of his videos before, this one below is a great one to start with.

The Real Truth

Matt D’Avella is not afraid to tell you the real, authentic truth. His authenticity shines in his videos, revealing what his life is actually like, oftentimes telling truths that others would hide but he is open to sharing. In one of his videos, A Minimalist Approach to Personal Finance, he shares the incredible amount of debt he accrued and the big mistakes he made to rack up more debt.

This theme of transparency and honesty is a common thread throughout his videos and is one of the reasons I really enjoy watching him. When I watch a Matt video, I am not getting a video that is only showing the highlight reels of Matt’s life – I get the authentic Matt. It seems like he actually enjoys leaning into these down-to-earth, real discussions and that vibe is something many connect to.


Be the authentic you. There’s value in showing your vulnerabilities (at the right time and on the right subjects) as it gives people an opportunity to connect to you.

Do What Others Won’t Do By Challenging Yourself

I don’t know of many people that would willingly take cold showers for 30 days or wake up at 5am every day for 30 days. And, I think that makes Matt particularly special.

I think Matt’s theme of “doing what others won’t do” is very apparent in his 30 Day Experiments series. It’s very interesting to watch these types of videos because they target ideas, like waking up early at 5am, that many wouldn’t willingly do.

But he does.

Matt is the kind of person that would go above and beyond for a video project because it makes the end product different. He is willing to grind for a month for a single video and he’s willing to work extra hard to get that shot that others may not get. This is an essential ingredient of the D’Avella style.


Do what others won’t do. Ideas that others are too lazy to do, but you are passionate on doing, are great ways to separate yourself.

Be a Guinea Pig, Not an Expert

I think GaryVee is very well-known for being the type of creator that prefers “documenting over creating” as a mindset shift for social media. Matt is one of those people that has adopted and mastered this style.

Now, I truly do think Matt is an expert in many of the fields he talks about on his channel. But, the way he presents the material positions himself as a guinea pig, like his 30 Day Experiment series, or even his productivity hacks when he simply talks about what works for him rather than saying this is the universal truth.


Document and reflect is a fantastic content strategy. If you are struggling to come up with video ideas, try doing what Matt does and document an experiment and reflect on how things are going or how things went.

Be (Mildly) Entertaining

Have you ever told an inside joke that others didn’t get? Or have you ever made a reference that someone didn’t understand?

I know I have. And so has Matt.

But, the thing is, I think you should keep telling those jokes and making those references. With Matt’s videos, these jokes and tongue-in-cheek comments are what make the videos, as Matt describes on his YouTube banner, “mildly entertaining”.

The internet is full of audience members from various backgrounds and your jokes will connect with that niche group. And, they will connect with them even more because you are speaking their language.


Tell inside jokes and make references that would make yourself or your friends laugh. These jokes will connect very well to those that get it and, with the internet being so vast like it is, you are bound to connect with someone who will become a fan of your work.

Final Thoughts on the Tips Extracted from Matt D’Avella

Matt D’Avella has a special place on my list of YouTubers because he was actually the reason I read the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and got myself out of debt and in control of my finances. His story connected with me deeply because of his transparency, his style, and his entertainment value. So, big thanks to Matt for not only the valuable information he shares but also the inspiration he is to many on YouTube with his unique style and voice. Keep being mildly entertaining!

I hope you enjoyed my notes from watching his videos and wish you the best on your video-making journey!

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