Interview With Indie Director Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman on set of Bong of the Dead
Thomas Newman on set of Bong of the Dead
Vancouver’s Thomas Newman has been around the film industry for nearly thirty years and he is still going strong. This Vancouver-based film maker has done everything from acting and special effects to EPK and production coordination. We caught up with the indie director and producer over coffee and we discuss his past work and his latest projects.

Thomas Newman’s first feature length movie was the zombie film Bong of the Dead. Bong of the Dead was made on a micro-budget of only $5000 but it screens like it had a budget many times larger. Newman took on the rolls of writer, producer, editor and of course director. Amazingly Newman composited over 375 shots by himself in post-production. “I was like Gollum. I locked myself away in my basement studio and devoted myself to my precious,” said Newman of his months-long stretch of post-production work.

Tommy Chong wearing Bong of the Dead t-shirt
Tommy Chong wearing Bong of the Dead t-shirt
Newman’s Bong of the Dead premiered to great reviews at the renowned Cannes Independent Film Festival and was subsequently released around the world in many languages. Bong of the Dead also screened on the festival circuit including SITGES, as well as the Hollywood Shock Film Festival where it picked up an award for ‘Best Visual Effects in a Motion Picture’. It seems the love of stupid stoners and zombies knows no bounds.

“I poured my heart and soul into that project. With a budget so small it was a challenge, but I pulled it off by surrounding myself with great people. Today I really enjoy hearing from fans who liked the film.”

Deadsville Movie

Newman’s latest project is a Western called Deadsville, which is slated to be shot in 3D. Deadsville according to Newman will be unlike any other Western movie before it. “It will be your classic Western story of greed, corruption, cowboys and zombie Indians. That’s right, zombies.”

Newman explained, “There is something about the Wild West and Western movies that has always appealed to me. From the grit and toughness to the trials and tribulations of pioneers and their adversaries, Westerns have drawn the imaginations of millions, myself included. Deadsville is going to be all that while being thrown on its ear.”

“The opening sequence of the film will deliver an epic battle sequence that is Saving Private Ryan meets Cowboys and Indians.”

Thomas Newman on Deadsville

Deadsville movie makeup
Life-sized Deadsville movie makeup by Mike Fields
Deadsville like Bong of the Dead before it will feature special effects by industry veteran Mike Fields, who is a close friend of Newman. “Mike and I have a great working relationship, and Mike has the stunning ability to take what’s in my head and make it come alive. We’ve been through so much together, and that not only brings us closer, it creates an atmosphere where we can really allow our creative sides to flow freely.”

On the Canadian Film Industry

A blog post by Newman on the Canadian film industry stated, “And people wonder why I don’t run around saying I’m a ‘Canadian: film maker’. I am a filmmaker period and it makes no difference whether I live here, US, or on the moon. I don’t feel one needs to brand themselves with the place of their origins and then add the word filmmaker after it. Besides who really gives a s**t where one is from? Your creative vision should know no boundaries.” The pointed words came as a response to seeing his film distributed around the world before his home country.

When asked of other projects Newman hinted at a possible web-based production and allowed this writer to see some early footage on the promise not to speak of the nature of what was being shown. “It’s a side project that allows me to blow off some steam while exploring a type of film-making that I have always enjoyed,” said Newman. NOTE – The secret preview certainly left this writer wanting to see more. That’s all that can be said for now on that.

Article written by Roy Whyte

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