Andrew Thomas moved to LA in 2013 after getting accepted into The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Primarily an actor, he’s found another passion in writing and directing. He hopes that his independent projects can help him move forward in the entertainment world.
It is our pleasure to sit down and interview Andrew Thomas and ask him our questions.
When did you start making films and what was the first film project that you worked on?
Oh man, I started making films back in middle school. Though the word "films" would be an overstatement. It wasn't until a high school film class, did I actually know what went into filmmaking. Those projects are somewhere out there on the internet but, trust me, they're well hidden. But aside from a very low budget web series I wrote years and years later, Till Death is definitely the most professional project I've gotten to make.
What inspired you to make Till Death?
It's a funny story. In 2013 I attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood, CA. I wrote the original Till Death script as a two person stage scene for one of our in-class assignments. Flash forward six years later, and I came across the script and decided to update it for a more cinematic tone. But the foundations of the original idea are still there, hence the staging of the scene.
What is the genre that you are looking to create in your films?
So, I'm a lover of horror films. I believe they can be some of the most artistic films. I specifically love the ones that are low budget, because you know the filmmakers have to get very creative with what they do. My favorite horror movies also have very relatable and likable characters, which I think is the most important thing. You have to care about them or else there are no stakes, which makes the horror fall short. And part of that relatability comes comedy. I think it's very real when people use humor when they are scared. I tried to implement that balance in Till Death
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker? Why?
I guess I am now! Granted, TIll Death is basically my professional debut but what I loved most about the project was the camaraderie and collaboration that went into filming it. If that's what indie filmmaking is like, then yeah, I'm all about it.
Do you think that cinema could change the way people think?
I think if that's your goal, then all the power to you. I personally don't go into writing a project with the intent of sending a message. It's not that I don't think it's important, it's just not where my brain goes when it comes to my ideas. I come up with things that I think would be interesting or fun and just hope for the best! If Till Death changed the way you think, then you're probably a lot smarter than me.
Can you name a few filmmakers who inspired your work?
Edgar Wright. James Wan. Joe Swanberg. They have been my top three for quite a while. Edgar Wright is a genius. Every single frame is planned and set up for a very specific reason. His ability to attack and succeed at various genres, while still keeping his signature spin is amazing. Shaun of the Dead was the movie that got me into filmmaking. James Wan has made some of my favorite horror movies. I think he's one of the few modern filmmakers who have been able to bring back classic horror. In my mind, his ability to stage scare, is an artform. And what makes his films effective is his focus on making you care about his characters. He builds their relationships and makes you like them before even the first scare. And I think it's so important (which I'm pretty sure I mentioned earlier). And Joe Swanberg. Frankly, what I love most about him is his way of letting his actors do their thing. His mumblecore style of filmmaking results in some of the most authentic scene work and dialogue that I've ever seen. Drinking Buddies is my favorite from him and a great example.
How does it feel to write and direct at the same time?
I love it, honestly. I have a side job where I am strictly a writer for a company that produces demo reels for actors. And sometimes I'll see the scenes and just be like "wow, that is not at all how I imagined the scene to go when I wrote it." And I think when you write something, you do develop a certain connection with it and being able to have control over translating your written words into what's being shown, is very liberating. It's your voice and your vision, uninterrupted. ...But I am aware that it's not always the case and being able to let go is very important.
Do you plan to work on a feature film or are you interested to continue making short films?
I actually am working on a feature script now! Well, actually it could be either or. I feel like I've written enough that could pass as a short with the intentions of possibly extending it later. But we'll see what happens. I just love writing. Whether I finish a script or not.
How difficult is it to screen short films and find an audience for short film projects?
I don't have too much experience but I'd assume it's almost easier than trying to screen a feature indie. I feel like most people are drawn to the safer option of putting maybe 5 to 20 mins of their time aside to check out an unknown director's short. Whether it's good or bad, it still didn't take hours. And I think that's the easy part about presenting shorts over feature length. But obviously that won't stop me from making a feature if I think it's worth making.
Why do you want to make films?
I want to make films because ultimately I'm a movie lover. And over the years, I went from strictly an actor to also falling in love with the production aspect. There is something so rewarding about getting together with a band of talented people, putting in the work, going through wins and setbacks together, and then finally seeing it come together. The finished product is only part of that joy. The other half is the journey to get there.