Tom Webb started making short films as a teenager. Having always had a passion for films it was seeing Jurassic Park at the cinema when he was 13 that tipped him over the edge and started him on a path to filmmaking. Over the years Tom has made many narrative short films as well as documentaries. He is currently a freelance filmmaker creating corporate and brand films, as well as teaching documentary filmmaking for the Raindance Film Festival. Tom still retains a passion for his own projects and I n 2020 Tom released his first feature documentary The Easy Bit, a film about the male perspective of fertility treatment. While continuing his corporate and brand work Tom hopes to make his next passion project a narrative feature.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
I’d like to live in a world where science is pursued and highly regarded, the world of Hyper Jump could be that world. We never get a sense of what it is like outside of the cockpit of the Hyper Jump spaceship but assuming that humanity is in a place where they have created a ship that is designed to explore the far reaches of space we can assume that the drive for knowledge and pushing the boundaries of human endeavor is pretty high and that sounds good to me.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I think I relate mostly to characters like Arthur Dent and Dr Alan Grant. Normal people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
I would like to think friend rather than foe but I can’t help but think it would all go very horribly wrong!
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Buckaroo Banzai, Tron, Luke Skywalker, Neo and Optimus Prime.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I don’t believe in bad ideas. I write every idea down and then they need to gestate. They need time to grow and be nurtured. I have notebooks with ideas from 20 years ago and I’m still evolving the ideas in those books. Some of them will never become anything more than scribbles in a notebook but that doesn’t mean they are bad ideas.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I would say that when it comes to being creative, sparking ideas and connecting with my imagination then I’m analogue. I like using film cameras for photography, I like using analogue instruments when playing music and I like to write down ideas in a book. I’d love to shoot a film on 35mm and I really hope that one day I’ll be able to. There is no denying that in a lot of cases going digital makes a lot more sense. My current filmmaking workflow is fully digital, as you would expect, as it’s more convenient and makes more practical sense so I think my heart is analogue but my brain says digital.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
The set in Hyper Jump was composited together from still images of existing real life spacecraft. Various elements were cut out of hi-res photos and then cobbled together to make something that felt familiar, real but also not specific. The console in front of the pilot was made of very basic 3D shapes in After Effects and the final touch was the floating screen. That is perhaps the most futuristic element but given that there are already head up displays, see-thru screens and even foldable glass, the concept of a floating screen projected in mid-air doesn’t seem too far fetched and it’s an idea that’s been used countless times in sci-fi films. So I suppose the short answer is, I like to take today’s technology and pull inspiration from experimental tech then add a little artistic license and suspension of disbelief. As long as everything feels like it belongs together then the audience usually accepts it.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Wars, Philip K. Dick, Practical, Distopia, Pre Apocalypse.