INTERVIEWEE – LISA DOWNS
Lisa: Hello Tom, Thank you for being here
Tom: My Pleasure!
Lisa: Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Tom: My name is Tom Russell and I’m a colorist, I probably have been for 20 plus years now. I work in London at a company called Prime Focus. I’ve worked at various companies around the world, In India and the States to name a few. I grade features largely these days, but I started my life in the music industry and that’s where my background is. If I’m honest, that’s where my passion is. I do a certain amount of music videos as I still like to keep in touch and find out what’s going on.
Lisa: What have been some of your career highlights?
Tom: I was thinking about that. I think it was working with Bernardo Bertolucci in a film called ‘Besieged’. That was probably 8 or 9 years ago now, but to work with someone of that great caliber, was probably one of the highest points in my career. Music wise, I’ve worked a lot over the years with Sophie Muller. I’ve done about 90% of the grading on her videos and have therefore worked with the likes of Beyoncé, No doubt, Gwen Stefani, Sade.
Lisa: Beyoncé is one of my favorite artists
Tom: Yeah she’s lovely!
Lisa: What are you expecting to see today with the videos, in terms of creativity, going outside of the box?
Tom: I’m hoping to see something exciting, something new and fresh. What I’ve seen of the submissions so far, I’ve been impressed with. There have been originally, new ideas, well-executed plots and plans and generally very exciting. That’s not always been the case in recent years, I’ve been to other award ceremonies and been generally quite disappointed or depressed even by the creativity involved. I know budgets are tight but that doesn’t necessarily mean that creativity has to suffer. You have to approach it in another way, perhaps more simplistic.
Lisa: Why do you think they haven’t been as creative?
Tom: I think things have been left to lapse on the creativity front, through fear largely. It’s a small pressure to make everything a success and so things usually come down to the lowest denominator – so everybody tends plays safe!
Music videos need to be breaking ground and following trends.
Lisa: Well finger crossed we get some today! Why do you feel this festival is important for anyone interested in the art of music videos?
Tom: I think this is important as a festival because it brings people together; it’s actually quite unusual for a group of people to meet each other, interact, exchange ideas and find out what other people are doing. I mean all our jobs, in a sense, are quite lonely thing- you do what you do but you don’t often speak to other people doing the same sort of thing very often! When you do get that opportunity, you’re often in competition with everybody else. So in this case, it’s nice to relax and be able to see things through, and talk about it, as that’s how new ideas develop and therefore how the whole system grows.
Lisa: Do you think there is a difference with this Festival, because it’s run by people who are generally passionate about the industry?
Tom: Yes- I think the difference with this one, is that is it run by people who are passionate and that shows in the people attending the festival. The people want to be here, there not just turning up because it’s the thing to do or the place to be seen at- which is good as well, but you want people who are generally interested in their craft to attend and open up new avenues for creativity.
Lisa: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself back when you were just starting out?
Tom: I think probably take more risks, be more adventurous. You have to push things and be confident in yourself to go to the edge and even beyond it. Sometimes your not going to succeed, but if you keep a good eye on what’s coming up, new trends- not necessarily to follow them but to exploit them, so that you have a long term career music, if that’s what you want.
If you want to use it as a jumping off point to do something else, all well and good- but it would be nice to be able to say 20 years down the line, that’s what I’ve done. Don’t just see it as a way of getting into commercials or films, it should be able to stand up on it’s own right
Lisa: Well, thank you very much for having a chat with us Tom
Tom: Thank you!