We recently caught up with Digital Filmmaking Graduate Thomas Bowerbank. After Graduation, Tom went on to found his own production company, Bowerbank Cinema, and has worked on a number of exciting film projects. He recently completed the short-film Nica inspired by his travel experiences in Nicaragua. You can check out the film on Tom’s website at http://www.bowerbankcinema.com/#/nica/.
Here’s what Tom had to say about his experiences at Centre for Arts and Technology, his advice for up-and-coming filmmakers looking to break into the industry, and the most valuable experiences he took away from his education.
1. What led you to pursue a career in Filmmaking? Why did you choose Centre for Arts and Technology for your training?
At a fairly young age I started filming my friends skateboarding and my brother and his friends who used classes in high school as well. By the time I was graduating my Mom actually mentioned to me that sheto race and jump quad bikes, that’s what got me started. I took some acting classes and media/ video heard an ad on the radio for the centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna and that they were offering a film program. It was at that point I realized I might actually be able to do this hobby as a career. I was kind of surprised, like “really I could get paid to do this?” [laughs]. As I was graduating high school a career counselor helped set me up with a summer job filming a documentary on forest fire fighters for the BC forest service. It was a great experience and got me even more excited about starting the program at Centre for Arts and Technology.
2a. What was your Student Experience while here? Please rate on a scale of 1 – 5 (5 being the
I really enjoyed the program. I had some great instructors and the program really opened my eyes to all the aspects of filmmaking, some of which I had never really thought about before-hand. I loved the freedom when getting to shoot out first and final thesis films and getting a grasp on the different avenues available in the industry. Overall it was a really positive experience and it gave me the knowledge I needed to help me find the path I wanted to pursue as a Director.
3. Tell us about your journey from graduation to working. Where did you start, and where are you
After finishing the program I worked for a small production company here in the Okanagan. They mainly did corporate video work. It was a good first job, to be paid for doing what you were training to do in some aspects but also really opened my eyes. There wasn’t a whole lot of art and passion going into the work on that kind of level and that was really the whole Idea of pursuing a career in filmmaking for me.
I decided to leave and go traveling to get a new perspective on things. I spent some time in Mexico, Nicaragua passing through a few other Central American countries, then to Toronto and eventually bought a one way ticket to Europe with no real plan and ended up backpacking through 9 countries. That trip really opened my eyes and at that point I knew I wanted to start my own production company and pursue projects I was interested in. When I returned to Canada I worked to raise the money need to start a business. On my days off, I shot music videos, made short films and during the 2nd season founded my company Bowerbank
Digital Cinema and began simultaneously working at the mine for 2 weeks and then working in film for 2 weeks for the remainder of my time there.
For the past 14 Months now I’ve been working full time with my company producing and directing music videos, marketing films, TV advertising, and recently shot a short film in Nicaragua. My goal now is to do more TV advertising on a larger scale and work my way into feature films.
4. How did your education at Centre for Arts and Technology prepare you for your current job/business/venture?
Centre for Arts and Technology gave me a look into the world of film as a whole. I learned enough about each area, cinematography, producing, directing, writing and editing to get me started working and a chance to expand on particular areas. I also think goals and planning are a very important aspect in all areas of life and career wise having some of that build into the program helped me create a plan to start my business.
5. Who are your heroes/mentors in your industry?
Recently I’ve really been admiring the work of Martin Scorsese and David Fincher as well as the guys at Brainfarm, just to name a few. Also with social media and the internet now a-days it’s very easy to contact
and stay in touch with people around the globe which has been really cool. A fellow director Julian
Marshall who recently directed “Obey The Giant” on the east coast and who’s been working in NYC for
the last while doing some amazing things with Intel and BMW has been a big inspiration for me as well.
He’s been a great guy to know, learn from and talk to about each other’s work.
6. What is the best part of your job?
The fact that most of the time now it doesn’t feel like a job [laughs].
7. What is the one thing you would tell potential students about journey to success as a
I guess it depends on how you define “success”. In terms of making a career out of film though and being able to pay the bills doing what you love, I’d say it really just comes down to being passionate about it, working hard and not giving up. If you want to do it you can do it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
8. Any other advice for them?
Surround yourself with like-minded people, lose the unnecessary distractions and be proactive don’t wait for opportunities, make them. It won’t be easy and if it is it won’t last, so work hard, it will pay off. Also don’t be scared to take a job or work on a film that isn’t your dream project. Take it as a challenge to make a dull thing amazing. If you are passionate and do good work people will notice.