An interview with :

Tom Paton

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Redwood writer/director Tom Paton was kind enough to spare his valuable time to do a Q&A for my website to which I'm sincerely greatful for.  Please check out his latest movie - Redwood - a nice change on the vampire genre!

Check out the links above for more information on Tom and the other projects he has been involved in.

Also, please give my REVIEW of Redwood a glance by clicking here.

 Hi Tom, so the first question to ask has to be where did you get the original idea for Redwood from?

Tom : Redwood was a bit of an insane scramble. I was approached in Cannes 2016 and asked whether I could come up with a script and mount a film within six weeks, Redwood is the end result. The time limits played a big factor in the content, as I knew we’d need to cast only a few actors and quickly, so the idea that this couple dealing with a very adult situation in a very typical teen horror style set up was born. The vampires in the movie become this backbone to tell the story against but the film very much belongs to the characters and what they are going through.

DGE : This is your second major movie after Pandorica so I guess the pressure was on to make an even better movie that Pandorica?

Tom : For sure, I think Pandorica’s reception really caught me off guard because that movie cost practically nothing and was shot in a paintball arena in the UK. So the fact that it found such a voice with the audiences that saw it was a real honour and a surprise. So there was certainly a sense of pressure to escalate things with Redwood, especially as both films are set in the wild. I think at a certain point though you just take a deep breath and stop trying to top things and just concentrate on making a film.

I think Redwood is much more understated than Pandorica is and so hopefully audiences will find a different experience in each film but still recognise my style as a director.

DGE : Some people may shake their heads when they hear Redwood is another film with vampires in it but there is much more going on in the movie - with Josh (played by Mike Beckingham) being diagnosed with leukemia and all the emotions going on inside him. How difficult was it to right such a great character lead script that didnt make light of people suffering from perhaps the same illness/illnesses?

Tom : I really just tried to approach Josh with a sense of honesty when I was writing him. He’s suffering this life changing, potentially life ending situation at a fairly young, but sadly, not uncommon age. That really does things to a human.

When you’re staring down the barrel of a metaphorical gun like that, it really reveals who you are. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re a bad person, a good person, a young or an old person…it just happens.

I think it makes not just Josh, but his partner Beth look at who they are as people and pushes them to an extreme version of that.

DGE : And speaking of Mike Beckingham, how easy was it to find someone as talented as him to play the role of Josh and lets not forget about Tatjana Nardone who plays the role of Beth.

Tom : This film lives and dies by the performances of Mike and Tatjana and thankfully for me, I really feel they both delivered. It’s such an amazing relief as writer to see two talented people breathing life into the words you’ve come up with and making it work. Finding that talent is a form of alchemy, you’re never really sure whats going to happen once you’re on set but fortunately I made the right choice on both fronts I think.

Mike Beckingham & Tatjana Nardone from Redwood

DGE : Whilst on the subject of actors - Nicholas Brendon - as soon as I saw his appearance in Redwood I said "Buffy" . How did you manage to bring in Nicholas and Im thinking you where a bit of a Buffy fan back in the day?

Tom : I’m a huge Buffy fan. I started high school just as the show started and ended just as it was ending, so I really did grow up with it and it felt like a huge part of my formative years. When I was in my final year of school I found out that my Dad was suffering from lung cancer and a very similar theme was happening on Buffy. It really helped me cope with the situation and I think that imprinted on my brain so all these years later to tie my love of Buffy together with the theme of dealing with cancer feels almost like fate.

Landing Nicholas to come and be in the film was the most awesome geek moment for me. My dad is fine now by the way….Hi Dad!

Nicholas Brendon (above) stars in Redwood.

DGE : Going back to your roots, how did you get into writing and directing movies?

Tom : I’m from the West Midlands in the UK originally, but left before I was twenty and headed off to Europe. I lived in Cyprus for quiet a while where I taught myself to operate cameras, edit, write, direct and then came back to the UK and applied that to music videos and commercials. I always knew I’d take the dive into movies at some point and one day I just woke up and said ‘Let’s do this”….three months later Pandorica was shooting and here we are today.

DGE : You seem to like the woods! Pandorica has a lot of woodland scenes and Redwood just as many! What is it with the man Tom Paton and woodland!

Tom : Honestly, two things. Number One: They are available….there’s loads of woodlands and so it’s the bread and butter of low budget filmmaking. Number Two: The challenge…although woodlands are available they are some of the hardest terrains to film in. The weather is against you, you’re outdoors and there’s wildlife to contend with.

I’ve got a thing for breaking all the rules and doing the opposite of what people tell me I should. So I made it worse for us on purpose by setting the bulk of the films at night in the woods, just for the hell of it. If you’re not challenging yourself then does your film even deserve to exist?

DGE : Whilst we are on the subject of the woods, can I ask where you filmed Redwood? The location is stunning and you could say is one of the main characters within movie.

Tom : The movie was shoot entirely on location in Poland. The mountains were just between Germany and the Czech Republic and provided us with a real American feeling location. I highly recommend Poland if you’re looking for a wildlife getaway….just stay away from the mausoleum! (That’s Redwood joke so go and watch it if you didn’t get it!)

DGE : I guess there where some real challenges in making a movie in such remote places. How do you keep the moral of your crew members and actors high to keep on going?

Tom : I’m a very pragmatic director, I don’t shout, I don’t throw temper tantrums and I always try and lead from the back. There is no job on set I’d expect a crew member to do that I wouldn’t do myself, so I was always helping carry gear up the mountain and so on. It’s important to remember that film is a collaborative effort. I couldn’t possibly make the thing without the crew so the key to morale is remembering that they come first. Their well being, their comfort, and the tone of the set are in your hands as a director and so it’s a real responsibility to ensure it’s the best it can be. Working in film is such a privilege and not a right, I just try and remember that and keep my sets a happy place.

DGE : Frightfest - what a great honour that must have been to have the world premier of Redwood played there! And I believe it was sold out two nights on the run?

Tom : Frightfest was a turning point for me career wise. It’s such an internationally recognised event that it really brought some limelight to what I’ve been doing. After years of grafting away I can’t tell you how awesome that feels and I’ll eternally be grateful to Paul, Ian, Alan, Greg and the rest of the team there.

Tom Paton (pictured) at Frightfest 2017

DGE : Pandorica was more sci-fi whereas Redwood is horror. Do you have preferred genre or would you happily write/direct any kind of genre. I only ask because some people do seem to stick to, say, one or possible two genres and thats it.

Tom : I’m a genre guy at heart, be that sci-fi or horror or action. But I like to think of what I do as remixing elements from all over the place. It’s very hard to put one of my films in a certain box I think and thats a gift and a curse in that some people really embrace that whilst others feel cheated that they didn’t get a huge dollop of the one thing they ordered. So I guess in answering your question I’m not really married to any one type of film at all.

DGE :  I believe you like comic books? I saw your interview over on DC World and you are a bit of a fan of them so I guess I have to ask - would you like to write or direct a superhero movie in the future!

Tom : Yeah I’m a huge comic book fan and the simple answer to that is…yep, where do I sign up?

DGE : The music for Redwood is awesome and fits perfectly with the tone of the movie. I believe Max Sweiry was involved and is involved in your next movie, Black Site. So how did your association with Max come about?

Tom : Me and Max go back a long way now, I originally directed a music video for him as he’s an amazing MC well known on the drum & bass scene, which is where I come from too. But he’s just this whirlwind of talent who I don’t think even really knows it. He’ll send me stuff that he’s written in a day that just blows my mind and what’s so good about him is that he’s never happy and always pushing for better. I guarantee Hollywood will snap that guy up before they come for me…he’s just too damn good!

DGE : So what is next for Tom Paton? Aside from Black Site, are they any plans in the mix you can tell your fans about or are they being kept secret for the time being?

Tom : So Black Site is coming like you said, and it’s a movie I’m insanely excited to be showing to people. And this year I’m teaming with the awesome Steve Mosley (Executive Producer) to bring you all a film I’ve had in my head for a few good years now called STAIRS. It’s sort of Cube meets Time Crimes with a bit something unexpected.

I really feel it’s my most original script though and this partnership is giving me the type of creative freedom that director friends of mine can only dream of. It’s going to be a really exciting shoot.

Beyond that I’m working with Carnaby International on Black Site as well as other things and I have an exciting venture in the works with Goldfinch Studios, which should keep these crazy films of mine coming for the foreseeable future.

I just wish to thank Tom for his kindess and taking time away from his busy schedule promoting Redwood to participate in this interview.  As with the many other writers, directors and actors/actresses who I've already interviewed - I never take things for granted and appreciate all they offer, their support for my site and of course the time they take away from their hectic schedules.  Many thanks to each and everyone.

Please check out Redwood (and Pandorica) when you can.  Brilliant movies from this rising star and I wish Tom all the very best for the future and I for one cannot wait for Black Site and other projects Tom will be involved with.



Redwood (2017)

Synopsis (IMDB) : After some bad news back at home, musician Josh and his girlfriend Beth head out to a secluded national park in search of some clarity on the situation they’ll face when they return. But the couple get more than they bargained for when they come face to face with The Redwood’s legendary wildlife.

Directed by : Tom Paton

Written by : Tom Paton

Cast :  Mike Beckingham, Nicholas Brendon, Luke D'Silva, Muzz Khan, Tatjana Nardone, Jessica-Jane Stafford

My Rating :

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