Asude: Hi Tom, thank you for giving us the chance to have a quick chat with you! We follow your work very closely and wanted the rest of the world know you a little bit better, too. So, could you give us a brief background about yourself and how did you get started with videography?
Tom: I was born in Oceanside, New York. January 29th, 1987. I first started making videos when I was in high school. I got my first mini dv camera when I was in the 10th grade for the sole purpose of making skateboarding/snowboarding videos with my friends. I started off using Windows Movie Maker and iMovie, the video quality was pretty rough but we were just excited to watch footage of ourselves hitting jumps and handrails.
A: I love these kinds of stories and seeing people realizing their interest when they are very young, like you! After that, what had been the video project you earned your first money?
T: The first paid music video I filmed was for a group called “The Como Brothers”. My friend Mike Watts and I borrowed a friend’s Rebel T2i and just started figuring it out all on the fly. I remember editing that video and feeling amazing about how it came out. I watch those early videos now and I can pinpoint plenty of rookie mistakes, but I still remember how awesome it felt to just go out and shoot a video and have it not totally suck.
A: Excellent and I’m sure most of us can relate to that feeling! By the way, what is your background in videography?
T: I didn’t have much of a background when I started filming videos. I never went to film school, so I had to figure everything out as I went. I basically surrounded myself with people who knew more than I did about film/videography and absorbed ideas from them. I also watched every YouTube tutorial I could find and slowly started gaining more knowledge of the technical aspects.
A: That’s an excellent way of gaining some more insight into what you’re really interested in! But, everyone has their own ways to show their creativity, what’s yours? I mean how would you describe your videography style?
T: I’m not sure how to put my style into words. I’m a musician and an action sports enthusiast at heart so I feel like you can see that come across in the way I shoot. I’m a big fan of mixing in handheld shots with smoother slider/stabilizer shots. I can only hope that my style becomes recognizable but at the same time not too predictable.
A: We know that you’ve filmed some commercials apart from music videos as well but, what are the preparations you make before you begin filming in general?
T: Having a solid vision and a detail shot list is always a must when planning out a shoot. The best shoots I’ve done have been the ones that were meticulously planned out. Of course, there will always be ideas that come up on the fly but without a solid framework, it’s easy to lose track of important details. It’s never fun when you forget an important connecting shot and have to rely on clever editing to cover up your mistake.
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail
A: I certainly agree that it’s always a good start to be prepared! So Tom, until today, what’s the best advice you've ever been given?
T: I’m not sure who said this but I really love the quote “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. It’s easy to fall in love with a certain filmmaking tool and want to use it on every single shoot. It can be tempting to fall into patterns of shot coverage and certain go-to camera moves. Keeping that in the back of my mind helps me to “snap out of it” when I’m feeling tempted to break out the gimbal when it’s not appropriate for the shot.
A: Speaking of equipment, what’s the equipment you generally bring to a set and do you prefer buying or renting your filmmaking equipment?
T: My equipment list varies from shoot to shoot. Some of my essential pieces of gear are my Blackmagic Ursa Mini, edelkrone SliderPLUS, Benro tripod, DJI Ronin, Small HD 702, Quasars, Lowel DP 1k, Gels/Diffusion, C Stands, Canon L Series lenses, and snack bars! (I almost always forget to eat while shooting) And, I prefer owning film equipment. I’m not against renting certain pieces of gear when they’re necessary. I just like knowing I can show up to a shoot and get the job done with everything I’ve got packed in my trunk.
A: Could you please tell our readers what software do you use for post-production now?
T: I use Final Cut Pro X and After Effects.
A: You’ve made a transition from Windows Movie Maker and iMovie to Final Cut Pro X and After Effects. Excellent! On this topic, what do you think about the future of filmmaking with the technology is advancing so fast, software and gears changing this quickly?
T: I think it’s amazing that my nephew can already film and edit videos on his phone at 9 years old. With more technology being available to everyone, the bar is going to raise at a much more rapid rate, but that’s a good thing. The same way technology is advancing, filmmakers need to push themselves to get ahead of the curve and make sure they’re providing more value than just using the latest tech trends as everyone else.
A: And, what is the best piece of advice you could give to other filmmakers?
T: Don’t be afraid to take on projects outside of your wheelhouse. The most fulfilling and exciting projects for me are always the ones where I would scratch my head saying “How the hell are we going to pull this off?”. There’s something about the stress and pressure that comes along with these projects that ends up inspiring some of the most creative ideas.
A: Last but not least, what’s your biggest ambition for the future?
T: My goal is to always be working on projects that inspire me. Waking up and being excited to go to work every day is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I suppose winning one of those MTV Moon Man trophies would be cool though!