There is a strange phenomenon that occurs with filmmakers whereby their films can receive international recognition, yet no one in their hometown may get to see a screening. While quietly developing his craft in Newcastle, local filmmaker Thomas Hudson has been discreetly making waves with his film clips, commercials and short films for several years.
Hudson’s work has been screened across the world at film festivals such as Down Under Berlin Festival and Lone Star Film Festival in Texas. Closer to home, his films have been screened at Australian film festivals such as Flickerfest and shortlisted for Tropfest.
This year he was selected by the Australian Director’s Guild as one of six regional directors to attend a masterclass with Australian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos.
“Yeah, I do have to get better at the self promotion thing,” Hudson admits.
Raised in Cardiff, Hudson says that from a young age his father encouraged his interest in photography. While studying to become a teacher at the University of Newcastle, his ardent interest in the film studies component of his degree eventually took over.
“I just became more obsessed with movies and I realised I didn’t want to just write about them,” he says.
He transferred to the Communications degree and began to develop short films.
“Filmmaking brought together all the elements of things that I was already interested in. I loved performance, writing, photography and music . . . Film was a way for me to put the sound and vision thing together,” he says.
In a quintessentially Novocastrian fashion, it was a chance meeting at a party that landed Hudson his first job in the advertising industry.
“I ran into Adrian Edmunds (of Nodding Dog) at a party and he’d just bought all this camera gear he didn’t know how to use. He said to come and figure it out with him,” Hudson laughs.
Within the next 12 months, Hudson was shooting, writing and directing commercials for Nodding Dog. Still part of the Nodding Dog team, Hudson says he’s lucky to have found a workplace that allows him to balance his creative projects and commercial work. In 2017 Hudson’s commercial talents were recognised when a video series he directed for CSIRO starring Lee Lin Chin was nominated for a Mumbrella award for Best Government Sponsored Campaign.
During these early years, he also began creating music videos for his band Indian Gun. He has since created beautifully concept driven film clips for local artists such as The Owls, Amy Vee and Grace Turner.
“I like doing film clips. It’s a good way to explore cool visual ideas, but it’s also a challenge for that reason because you have no dialogue,” he says.
In 2016 Hudson tested his filmmaking skills to the limit when he wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited a short film starring Dirtgirlworld actor Maree Lowes.
“In that film, I feel like I did far too much . . . I will never do that again, it splits your attention too much, but I do feel the experience has made me a much better director now.”
This year Hudson has been involved in a writer’s room developing a series for ABC Iview. The series is a further development of a short film, Late Moves, which he directed with friend and comedian Cameron James. The film also starred actor and writer Sarah Bishop, who co-wrote the viral Activewear parody. Late Moves saw both lead actors win awards for Best Actor at two different festivals, as well as take out Best Australian Film at the Canberra Short Film Festival.
Hudson plans to produce another short in 2019. He says he is particularly interested in work that sits in the space where drama and comedy live alongside each other.
“I like how film works on a primal level but also an intellectual level,” he says.
“I love art films that make you think, but I also love thrillers that just hit you at a level that you can’t control or a comedy that makes you burst out laughing.”
Hudson also holds what he describes as “lofty dreams” to continue to develop original content for film and television.
“I see my career as a long game. As long as I can keep the love for it alive and continue working towards projects, I’m happy. I like to dream big but I’m also a Newcastle person – I’m very pragmatic about these things.”
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