Having held over 47 temp jobs in his young life, UK producer Tom Swanston decided that the filmmaker’s world was the one to make permanent. At the age of 23, he produced his first film, “The Ultimate Truth,” under the Wysiwyg, Ltd. production banner. Since filming, Wysiwyg has become an independent film distributor in its native UK, and “The Ultimate Truth” has garnered a widespread DVD release in the United States and Canada. With the DVD release right around the corner, Tom took some time to answer a few questions from Film Threat’s own Mark Bell.
Tell me about yourself, let’s get personal. Where were you born?
Born in Guildford, UK, on July 3rd 1978, which happens to be St. Thomas’ day! My folks didn’t know that until I was about three, but they neglected to tell me and when I was about eleven I found out in a French class that I was born on St. Thomas’ day. I immediately phoned my parents to ask them about it:
Me: “Did you know I was born on St. Thomas day?”
Me: “Is that why you named me Thomas?”
Me: “Oh. When did you find out about it?”
Mom: “When you were about three.”
Me: ”But you didn’t tell me.”
What made you decide to be a filmmaker?
Being presented with a driveling bunch of nonsense with zany characters and hardly any story, but with the potential to be a hilarious script.
I’m assuming you’re referring to “The Ultimate Truth.” Tell me a bit about the film, what’s it about?
Jeda, a dim-witted Australian, is forced into making something of his life when his girlfriend threatens to ditch him. He decides to start his own environmentally friendly political party. He has no idea what he is doing, but, with the help of his crazy friends, he attempts to save the planet and create world peace.
It is a political satire that dissects the British classist and political structure. It uses over-the-top characters and quick wit to make fun of all the political bigots, youthful dreamers, worried parents, snobbish upper classes, wannabe gangsters and every other social stereotype that you can imagine.
The film is gorgeous, what did you shoot on?
DV Cam. We briefly looked into shooting on 35mm, but threw that idea out the window because there was no way we could afford it.
What was the budget, if you don’t mind my asking?
The budget was £33,000.
So, that amounts to about $60,000 US with the current exchange rate, which isn’t that bad. Any major setbacks or horror stories?
There was a day during filming when it was pouring with rain and we were due to film outside all day. The two main actors had been up all night drinking and sharing a Jacuzzi with some ladies, and then did not turn up the next day. Eventually they were found, still drunk. We shot all the footage we needed but we got soaked and they were hardly able to stay standing.
Drunk actors, always a pleasant day of shooting. You made it through production and now you’ve got a US DVD release coming up. What was it like getting the DVD together?
Making the DVD was interesting, frustrating, confusing, difficult, fun and long. It was a whole new area for us and it was a steep learning curve, but we’ve had particular trouble with transferring the video from British to American format. A complete nightmare! But I like the extra features, when you buy the DVD you might like to pay particular attention to the “Special Message from the Producer”.
What’ve you got on the horizon, any new projects?
Have recently written another comedy feature called “Shoot The Money<" to be filmed in 2005. It is a crazy comedy about a young, talented filmmaker living in the outskirts of London who accepts his first directing role only to discover that it is a porno. He sticks with the job, but hides it from his new love. Eventually the truth will all come out!
Anything you’d like to tell me that I did not ask?
Probably, but I save that stuff for my psychiatrist.
Tom Swanston’s producerial effort, “The Ultimate Truth,” is currently available for sale in the Film Threat Shop, and will be released in retail shops through the United States and Canada on May 31st, 2005.