Thomas Elliott [thomaselliott]
What is your specialty? Production, direction, something else?
Is there a link to a site where we can see references to your work?
You can view my work at any of the following sites:
How did you begin in this field? Who introduced you to it?
I first became interested in film production and directing when I was growing up in Tasmania.
My father took me to see 2001 by Stanley Kubrick and I was instantly hooked.
Which have been the most symbolic works of your career?
I think Terminal Bliss was a real milestone in getting a piece of work done quickly and getting it out to audiences and having it be appreciated.
It was also important for me as it was my first feature film credit as a writer and cinematographer.
Do you work for a client, for the audience, or for your own creative adventure?
I think I try to make my films for audiences. I probably didn't start out that way I was more concerned with what I wanted to do but ultimately if audiences don't respond to the work you are making then you have little chance of continued success.
What should a good script have in order to interest you?
A good script needs to have an engaging storyline. I know this might sound a little silly or simplistic but often that is the thing which most scripts lack. The idea might be there, it may have some great dialogue but if the overall story doesn't grab you from the page its not going to translate into a film that will grab audiences.
Name three contemporary directors or producers that you admire.
I really admire and respect Roger Corman as a producer. Many may not consider him contemporary but the man is still constantly working and producing new films regularly for very little money.
I also respect highly the work of film director Paul Thomas Anderson as he is not afraid of making highly personal films on a very large scale. Particularly for me I am still amazed by Magnolia and There will be blood.
Finally I would say at the moment I am really into Christopher Nolan as a director. I think the way he was able to reinvigorate the Batman franchise into something fresh, relevant and real and on such a massive scale is so impressive.
What movies or television shows inspired you to work in this field?
I think growing up I was really interested in the films of Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, Sidney Lumet.
As I have gotten older I am often more inspired and interested by a much wider film palate and I take a lot of inspiration from the works of Paul Thomas Anderson, Tom Tykwer, Russell Mulcahy, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro, Pitof, Mathieu Kassovitz, F Gary Gray, Oliver Stone, Steven Sodenberg, Takeshi Kitano and many others.
In terms of television when I was getting into film the only shows I really watched were Doctor Who and The Incredible Hulk.
Now I am inspired by shows like: Criminal Minds, CSI, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Dexter.
If an actor delivers the lines but is not believable, how do you direct him/her?
You need to find a away to connect the material to the performer. I would often use substitution to find a similar emotion or motivation within the performer to achieve the desired result.
What actor would you love to work with and what type of character would you propose to him/her as a challenge?
I'd really love to work with Russell Crowe. I'd probably want to make a challenging true life (true story) film as I think Russell plays real people incredibly well... Even if the character that comes across is not exactly like the real person I feel he is able to connect with the spirit of the people he portrays.
Are you the type who instantly knows when a take is good, or one who does another three takes to be safe?
I don't like doing a lot of takes. I prefer to rehearse on set until I am comfortable that we are moving in the right direction and the performances are clicking with the script and all the technical aspects of the process.
Its a lot cheaper and often more effective to get what you want as close to right before shooting... On the flip side you don't want to over rehearse things either as things can become stale. You just want to play with things a bit and see what seems to be working and then go with your gut.
What type of direction are you used to giving the director of photography?
It depends. Often on more small scale or personal projects I act as my own D.O.P in which case I just go with what works for me for any particular scene.
When working with a D.O.P I often keep my direction to them more about the feeling or mood I want to create rather than giving any specific technical thoughts on how I think something should be lit or framed.
How interested are you in image technologies such as robotized cameras, special effects, etc.?
I like my toys and I like technology.
Where I can and where it is appropriate to what I am doing I try to use new techniques and new equipment so I can push what I am able to do further.
I know some directors find effects frustrating but I actually really enjoy the challenge of doing complicated technical projects.
Do you enjoy post-production, or do you prefer to leave that in the hands of other professionals?
I very much enjoy the post production process. I like to be heavily involved in discussion with editors I work with about how I see the material being assembled and sharing ideas on making things work to their fullest potential.
Do you eat popcorn at the movies?
My wife does so I often share.
What works best for you when selecting an actor: an audition, seeing some of his/her previous work or having a long conversation with him/her?
I prefer to meet people and talk with them about what I am doing and where I want to go with a project.
Usually if meeting with a good actor I know when engaging in this process if they are going to want to go where I want to go with the material and if they are going to be willing to play and make the process exciting and creative.
I don't really like auditions. It is very hard to tell anything from them, some people just read well. I have often used auditions just to select new talent who I would like to meet for a conversation though.
Do you like to have a second unit or do you prefer to control every still of a production?
Second Unit can be amazing and wonderful if you get get a second unit director who shares your overall idea for the project and understands the minutia of how you would like to stage and frame things.
Do you change the dialogue after selecting the actors in order to adapt the characters to them?
I swap around dialogue all the time. Usually after I cast an actor I will often do a polish on a script to tailor it more to them and then on set I will mix things up and change things till they work out how I want them to.
Somethings only work on paper and therefore need to be adjusted for actors to perform them realistically on set.
Which do you like more, large budget or small independent productions?
I like having my independence to make the kind of films I am interested in but I am not opposed to working on larger budgeted material as it gives you obviously wider exposure and an opportunity to work with great scripts and amazing actors.
Do you like to experiment with new technology immediately or do you prefer to wait for it to develop?
I am keen to see new ideas when they come out. Maybe play with them on a music video or a short film and see if they work for what I want to do. If they do I use them if not I wait and see if they get to a level where I may want to use them in the future.
Is the future of cinema the Internet? Mobile phones?
I think cinema has many futures both in its current configuration and has something which can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own home through the internet or some other future technologies.
I hope it does just end up on little mobile phones in a poor streaming format where all the hard work you go to just looks a little bit rubbish.
What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to break into in the industry?
Make lots of films, make lots of mistakes. Meet lots of people and try not to piss anyone off.