From Bessbrook to Hollywood Boulevard: Hollywood debut for local film maker

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info@newrytimes.com
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Community, News
Newry based musician and film-maker Tom Watson is celebrating after one of his short films has been chosen to be screened at a Hollywood film festival – that’s Hollywood, California, not Holywood, County Down!
Newry based musician and film-maker Tom Watson

Newry based musician and film-maker Tom Watson

The film “Are You There?” was shot partly in the Ring of Gullion and will be shown this Friday, 28th August, as an official selection of the “Galactic Film Festival”, a sci-fi film festival held in Hollywood each year. The festival takes place in the heart of the film-making centre of the world, and Tom is delighted about being chosen. He told Newry Times, “With the International Eurofilm Festival in Spain and the International Access Code Film Festival in India choosing my film as well, that makes three International Film Festivals that have chosen my film to show, but it’s particularly thriling to know that my film will be shown on Hollywood Boulevard, in the heart of the movie industry!” The film was shot with a minuscule budget, using friends and family as cast and crew – His brother Patrick created the visual effects and co-produced the film, and his good friend RJ Woolsey, actor, musician and motorcycle racer starred in it. “Our budget was so small,” he explained. “We made the film for less than most other short films would spend on coffee; £50 – can you believe it? At the end of the day we made the most with what little we had, and I’m glad the writing shone through to the festival juries!”
A scene from “Are You There?”

A scene from “Are You There?”

As well as writing, directing and editing the film, Tom also created the soundtrack – with the help of Sharon Carroll, a professional harpist who appeared in the film, as well as playing at the end of the film. Tom continued, “Our short film being shown in Hollywood is an honour for everyone who was involved in its production. One festival selection can be considered a fluke, but three, big, international festivals… well, that’s given me quite a boost! “The only frustrating thing is that the festivals won’t let it be shown anywhere – they only consider films that will be a US, Indian or European premiere, and putting it online means they won’t allow in into their festival.” Tom is a prolific writer, with another short film “The Rating” completed. This film, a comedy about his hometown of Lurgan, is already an official selection of the San Antonio Laughs Comedy Festival. Tom’s next film project is already in pre-production.
Another scene from “Are You There?”

Another scene from “Are You There?”

“I’m building up my film making stamina,” he laughs. “I’ve just finished a music video for Belfast based band ‘Wookalily’ and we’re shooting another one for a song I wrote for them in early September and my next film will be another micro-short, about eight minutes long. “After that I have a longer comedy film planned, but it takes a lot money to be able to make films and we’re always struggling for cameras, lights and equipment.” Asked what future holds, Tom said, “I have about four full-length features films already written. Of course, these will take a lot more help and a huge budget, but the plan is to work my way towards making a feature film. “I’d love to make a film in and about Northern Ireland that’s not in any way related to the Troubles, but is a good family comedy showing off our fabulous scenery, locations and unique sense of humour!”  

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