Although you may not know his name yet, here at DC World we are predicting big things for Tom Paton. Already making a name for himself in the film industry, he continues to go from strength to strength, with sold out screenings and award nominations, this is definitely the start of something big!
The young British Film Writer and Director already has three feature films to his name. Pandorica (2016) tells the story of the Varosha tribe in a post apocalyptic world where Eiren, Ares and Thade take on the trials set by their elders to find a new leader.
Tom’s second film, Redwood (2017) is a Vampire story that features Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris in the late nineties TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Redwood sold out screenings at Frightfest last year and is getting a nationwide release in March this year.
The third film on Tom’s CV is Black Site. Here’s what he had to say about it.
Black Site is a 1980’s John Carpenter style SciFi Action movie about a secret organisation called Artemis, founded to capture and deport a race of Lovecraftian creatures called The Elder Gods back to their own dimension. They take the captured ones to a place dubbed The Black Site where our lead character Ren Reid is stationed. She’s trying to follow in the footsteps of her father, who was killed by an Elder God called Erebus. Erebus is finally captured and brought to the site, but his cult like followers soon arrive and siege the base. Only Ren and a naive new guy stand in their way and must fight to the death to stop this ancient evil escaping.
Where did you get the idea for Black Site?
Black Site has been rattling around inside my head for a few years now. It started life as a story about Lovecraft style monsters being housed in a prison called The Supernatural Max. Over time the mythology evolved and it became something more akin to Escape From New York in tone and style. There’s so much world building going on that we’re hoping to continue the franchise in TV form as well as further sequels. It’s a real passion project for me and I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun on set as I did with this one. I’m excited for people who love genre films to see what we’ve cooked up.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started as a Director.
I’m from the West Midlands in the UK and came to be a Director via a pretty untraditional route. I never went to University and had no contacts within the industry. Instead I started my own business when I was twenty years old filming and editing club videos for YouTube. From there I taught myself all the various areas of film including VFX and over the years started doing music videos, then commercials and then around 29 I took the plunge and made an ultra low budget movie called Pandorica (check it out on Amazon!). The response was great and I quickly ended up in the Director’s chair for my second film Redwood (due out this March), which went on to appear on opening night at Frightfest and sell out twice. It’s now up for The National Film Awards too. So basically, what I’m getting at it is…if I can pull it off so can anyone else with enough determination.
You’re a fan of DC Comics, what are some of your favourites?
Growing up I was always a DC guy, in fact I used to think I wanted to be a comic book artist before I realised I suck at drawing. I’m a huge fan of All Star Superman, Flashpoint was great, I love anti-heroes like Lobo and The New Gods has always fascinated me. My big love is the characters of Justice League Dark though. The thing about DC’s characters is that they have stood the test of time because they are so inclusive, diverse and span some areas of interest that I think it’s impossible to not be a fan of at least something from their output.
Have comics influenced any of your films?
For sure, I always found DC’s comics reminded of Greek & Roman mythology. These characters are Gods amongst us and that’s likely influenced a lot of my writing now I’m a filmmaker – just look at Black Site! I think comics opened the gate to my imagination because they aren’t limited by budget, they aren’t held back by what they’re not supposed to do and I’ve always tried to apply that ideology to filmmaking and not let budget hold back my sense of scale and scope.
Do you watch any of the DC TV shows?
I do, I’ve been sticking with The Flash since it launched. It’s just a real fun show that knows exactly what it wants to be and gets on with pure escapism. I have a lot of respect for that. Grant Gustin embodies the role too
Critically the DC films haven’t been too well received (apart from Wonder Woman). As a director what is your opinion of them and how would you approach a DC film?
You know it’s a tough question to ask. As a filmmaker I totally respect the hundreds of people whose hard work has gone into any movie. For me a good movie is defined by it’s theme, not plot. I think where Wonder Woman really succeeded is that it focused heavily on it’s theme of the naivety of being a hero. Punching one bad guy can’t rid the world of evil and every beat in that movie focused in on that fact. Its story felt complete and satisfying because of it. That would be my approach, to get to the core theme or message I wanted to tell. Superman for me is about being the ultimate powerful being and then not letting it corrupt your morals, even when the situation might call for it. That’s why that character has stood the test of time and I’d try and find a story that dealt with that theme at every beat and have every character’s arc deal with some form of moral compromise, whether that’s refusing to budge or caving completely. Each of DC’s characters have a wonderful theme usually built into the core of the character’s superpowers. I think it’s about isolating that theme and then analysing it whilst also remembering that dark doesn’t mean “not fun.”
What is your favourite DC film and why?
Your readers are probably bored of this answer but it has to be The Dark Knight, for all of the reason’s I just listed above. It’s so thematically complete, with every single line of script or shot making you question how far you’d go in that same situation. It’s a masterclass of writing, directing, editing and acting. I think it’s the bench mark who’s shadow all other superhero films have to live in. But that’s what’s great about these characters, Nolan has laid the down gauntlet now and many creators will keep swinging for the fences trying to top it…that’s a good thing for us fans because everyone is pushing to try and raise the bar now
And finally the most important question, when you’re at the cinema is it Salt or Sweet popcorn?
That’s easy – Salted. People who go for Sweet are clearly intending on being disruptive in the cinema because they are on a sugar rush. Never sit next to those people 😉
Toms passion for storytelling, his creativity and originality are clear for anyone to see in his films. See this for yourself when Redwood is released in March and Black Site later this year. Massive thanks to Tom for taking the time to talk to us. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
Check out the trailer for the three films here.