Filmmakers: Tom Herod

Tom Herod planned to go to law school.  But in college, he saw The Graduate, and something about the movie fascinated him…on the seventh viewing he realized that he wanted to do what Mike Nichols was doing.  There was no film department at his school, so he started reading books, bought a super-8 camera, experimented with effects by shooting through coke bottles, and eventually enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin to study film.

He worked in Dallas in TV and movies, and was admitted to the Directors Guild of America, and was then accepted as a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute.  Since then, he has freelanced in LA and Texas as a director, production manager, line producer, and many other roles.

Tom has a number of awards on his resume, but is no longer interested in festivals.  “Awards are a racket.  I’ve paid my money, if you pay your money and send it in, you’ll get something.  I stopped doing it because I already have a list of them.”

Tom is now creating his own web series.  “Most web series seem to be aimed at a demographic I’m not interested in: people in their teens and twenties.  I want to reach people who read the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, or Salon.com.”  Tom and his partner are planning on having offering other media than just the series, such as character blogs and spin offs of the world they are creating.

“You have to find a way to make a living.  Making a feature is a total gamble.  What exists now is completely new — you can show your work to everyone on YouTube, and if you market it right you can get paid in advertising.  At some point in your career you have to take control of how you get your creative product out to customers.”

Tom’s advice for new directors?  Direct theater.  “One problem with shorts and independent features is that the scripts are often not that good — consequently they are not good movies.  In theater the script has already been vetted but you have the same task of interpreting the written word and getting good performances out of actors.  So you get to practice as a director and see your degree of success as a storyteller versus a storywriter.”

He advocates studying writing before working on your own script.  “Study what makes good writing, and only then make a movie that will make a point and that people will want to watch.”

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