Award winning filmmaker Tom Smith is a former NewVIc student. At the age of 23, Tom has written and directed fourteen short films, which have won five international awards including the Limelight Film Award. His films have also been screened at numerous film festivals such as the National Student Film Festival as well as institutions around the world including the USA.
Can you start by telling me a little more about yourself, before you came to NewVic? Have you always lived in Newham?
"I lived in Newham since I was three years old, having studied at the Royal Docks Community School before moving over to study at NewVic back in September 2010. Filmmaking has always been my passion; it’s a career path that has allowed to me to bring many of my creative skills together, whether it be collaborating together with a team of actors and crew, alongside writing original stories for audiences."
I know you are studying a Masters in film, which University are you at?
"Currently I am studying my Masters in Film and TV Directing at Bournemouth University, the same University where I had previously been studying my Bachelor’s degree in Television Production."
What are your main achievements – made any films?
"A few of my achievements include 2.1 million views on my YouTube channel has over, my short domestic abuse drama Smoke has earned over 1.3million hits. I’ve had five of my films screened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My short film Empty was screened at the Picturehouse Cinema in Stratford and my films Empty and Pathfinder have been screened at the BFI Southbank. My short film Smoke was screened and had a lecture devoted to it at the University of California."
What did you study at NewVic College?
"I studied a BTEC Extended Diploma in Music Technology and A Level Media Studies. I was also a part of the drama society for two years."
This was the first year back at NewVIc as part of its Industry Panel to assess films produced by Level 1 and 2 students studying Production and Performance Arts. Could you tell me a little about this?
"I was asked to come back to NewVic and join the industry panel. This is my first year students publicly present their projects for the panel to assess. It’s good to see the work devised by the students. It shows that the standard of the Media and Music subjects at NewVic are still as high as when I was a student. I’m looking forward to being a part of it next year."
When did you decide you wanted to direct/produce etc?
"From an early age I was always writing short stories, but it wasn’t until my parents took me to my local cinema to go see The Lord Of The Rings that I developed my taste for wanting to direct films."
Could you briefly tell me your journey since you left NewVic to where you are now?
"My journey has taken to me through various forms of education, from studying two degrees at University, to shooting fourteen short films, to meeting various Hollywood actors and filmmakers. I have had two part time jobs since leaving NewVic, as well as working as a freelancer. It has been a journey full of ups and downs, but there has always been light at the end of the tunnel."
Do you have any fond memories of NewVic College?
"The performances we did at Stratford Circus with the music department were always a highlight, including a performance of Blood Wedding with the drama students back in 2011."
What made you come to NewVic?
"NewVic was high in the tables as it is a college which focussing on the creative arts, a subject I wanted to pursue as a future career; therefore it was easy for me to make that decision when it came to applying."
How did you find the teaching at NewVic? Did it prepare you for your next educational step?
"College was a much more relaxed environment than than school was, the teachers were there to guide me and bring out the best of my talents. A shout out to Performing Visual Arts Manager John Crockford, Music teacher Femi Akinyemi and Gabriel Armstrong from the music department and Saci Lloyd from the media department as they were the driving force behind my teaching."
How would you describe yourself before you came to NewVic? And how would you describe yourself when you left?
"NewVIc definitely gave me the confidence to pursue the career path I have undertaken. It took me a while to realise what I wanted to achieve but the help and support of all my fellow students and teachers allowed that to happen."
Do you have a favourite quote?
It is this one:
'It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’
This quote is by the author J.R.R. Tolkien.
What motivates you?
"Working with people who want to pursue the talents they have to offer, and not being afraid of doing something that is personal to me as well as something a general audience will like."
What do you aim to do next? Your goals and future plans?
"At the moment my main goal is to finish off the last of my Uni work, which will involve the release of four brand new short films as well as hopefully securing my place to study at the National Film & Television School."