We didn’t know anything about Samuel Thomas when we approached him for an interview. We saw a high quality trailer for his film Someone To Carry Me and a ton of support throughout social media for his efforts. We knew he must have something special going on and he graciously obliged our request.
Your film centers around a murder and fallout from it, both for the people involved and an innocent bystander. Tell us about the conception of this idea.
The initial idea that sparked my imagination was, “why do we wait till someone dies to get everyone together to celebrate there life”. Then I thought “how can I turn that idea into something positive?” ‘Someone to Carry Me’ is a coming of age film about finding your voice/feet, the importance of family/relationships, enjoying life and staying positive.
The film took seven years to film. How did the film evolve and what changed throughout that time?
I entirely self funded this film so for 3.5 years while I was perfecting the script I was also working two jobs to raise the money. Often working 15 hrs a day. Then after work I would go the gym, do preproduction, make phone calls and go to meetings. Once I had enough money I took time off work and shot most of the film in about 6 weeks (there were just a couple pick up days later). Then I resumed my day job (trying to quickly pay off all the extra unseen production expenses) and in my “spare time” started post production which continued for the next 3.5 years. I’ve spent about seven years total making this film but shooting only took about 6 weeks. It’s the pre and post production and took the longest.
You star in the film, which you also wrote and produced. Was it a challenge to work on both sides of the camera?
In this situation I think the biggest challenges can be in the cutting room but I try to approach my performance the same as anyone else’s. I just imagine I’m looking at someone else and after a while you get used to it. I also have a really strong team that I know well and trust. An honest team and not being afraid to get a second opinion is the key.
I would assume you had a major hand in filling out the rest of cast. What went into their selection and are you please with what you were able to get out of them?
I’m immensely grateful to have had such a committed, talented cast. I enjoyed working with everyone of them. I decided to act opposite them during all the auditions as I had a pretty strong idea of what I was looking for. I wanted to feel their performances first hand and see what kind of energy they brought. Terry is an extremely talented director and together we made the final decisions.
In interviews, it appears you have sacrificed a lot and worked extremely hard to get this film made. Tell us about your story and what you’ve gone through to get where you are.
I’ve had a lot of people ask “what does it take to make a feature film?” or “How did I do it?” I’m only starting out myself so I’m not pretending I’m an expert but I usually say two things, 1. “Just keep going”. Whatever hurdles get thrown at you (and there may be many) “just keep going”. 2. “Don’t sleep”. This one sounds crazy but “you gotta do what you gotta do to get it done”. I’ve spent 7 years making this film and there’s been months on end where I’ve only slept 3-4 hours a night. I’m working full-time at TVNZ (New Zealand’s foremost TV station) as an editor and have been creating ‘Someone to Carry Me’ in my “spare” time before and after work. Some days you wake up and you’re so tired you wanna go back to sleep, I tell myself “just keep going”, “just get out of bed” “just take one step at a time”. Soon I’m up, remembered why I’m doing this and ready to take on another day. There’s also no time to waist, I’m heading straight into pre-production on my next feature film. Hopefully this one doesn’t take 7 years but I’m going to “just keep going” and we’ll get there eventually.
For those who are unaware, what opportunities does filming in New Zealand provide that might not be found anywhere else?
I think a lot of big productions come to New Zealand due to our unparalleled “kiwi can-do”/”she’ll be right” attitude. We don’t have all the “red tape” other countries have which allows us to dodge those hurdles that cramp creativity. I’ve heard of stories from overseas where someone in ‘art department’ left a ladder on set stopping production until someone else could get him on the phone to come back and move it. I’m a huge fan of going “gorilla style”, shooting something ridiculous in public, perhaps a chase scene through a busy street. People see the cameras “oh they’re shooting a movie” and in true kiwi style, just carry on with what they’re doing. I was acting in a commercial a couple years back in what seemed to be a quiet street. However, when a nearby school’s bell rang we were suddenly swamped by about 500 intrigued school kids. The 500 kids just stood there quietly watching us film, no troubles at all. New Zealand also has a diverse/unique terrain range which make amazing locations and in general, shooting here can be a lot cheaper. The kiwi attitude makes NZ a positive place to film.
What is the future of Someone To Carry Me?
At the moment the rights are available. We are currently sending ‘Someone to Carry Me’ to all the big film festivals and approaching distributors.
We want to thank Samuel Thomas for his time. For more information about Someone To Carry Me visit their Facebook, Twitter, or Website.