'Tom Brumpton' 'Interview on Film Project 'The Guiding Light''
- Genre: 'Soundtrack'
When the press release announcing the latest project from former Akarusa Yami front man Tom Brumpton landed in my inbox, I’d been expecting a new band. But no, although the final paragraph mentioned providing vocals on a new Akarusa Yami track, the missive actually contained details of a film project with Adam Luff – and a particularly intriguing one at that. I decided to take the opportunity to ask Tom a bit more about The Guiding Light and what he’s been up to.
W&H: You’ve been involved in music – both as a performer as front man with Akarusa Yami and as a PR agent – for many years. What prompted the move to filmmaking?
Tom Brumpton – It was a pretty steady progression. I’ve acted since I was a kid, and over time I became a little frustrated that I wasn’t getting certain roles. So, I called my best friend, Adam Luff, who’s also the screenwriter for The Guiding Light. I asked him he’d mind making a short film with me called The Samaritan that we could take to film festivals and so I could try and get some more interesting roles from it.
We shot it, it turned out OK but not how we had hoped. We started talking about a few other scenes we’d like to shoot for our showreels, and one of them turned into Nurture Of The Beast, which is a micro-short film we made for about £50 and shot in four hours with a tiny crew. It went on to get nominated for and win a ton of award and has been screened around the world! *laughs*
It was while we were shooting these scenes that I started working behind the camera. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved working with actors and seeing the final movie was amazing. I learned a lot, and the more I did it, the more I realised this was where I wanted my career to go.
W&H: You won an award for Best Actor for your previous film, Nurture of the Beast… Can you talk about your experience in acting? And is there anything you can’t turn your hand to and do well?
TB – I cannot play the saxophone. My Dad bought me one as a gift two years ago, and my brother and I looked at it, then at each other and said “OK, we’re two intelligent men. We can figure out how to get a sound from this thing.” Minutes later we’re Googling “How to make a noise with a saxophone”. I will never shake the image of my Mum bolting out of her chair while we attempted to make “music” with this weird purple instrument.
As for acting, like I said, its been a part of my life for years. I always got a certain sensation from acting that I never got from anything else. It felt like this weird calm in which you can learn and experiment with other creatives. I still get that feeling to this day when I do a film, and I love it.
W&H: The Guiding Light is the latest in a number of collaborations with Adam Luff, and you two go back a very long way. Does working together become almost instinctive after so much time?
TB – Oh, absolutely! We’ve done a lot together, and I trust the guy completely. This film wouldn’t exist were it not for his hard work and support. It’s one of those relationships where you can not see or speak to each other for a week, a month or a year and then once you’re on the phone or in the same room, it’s like no time has passed. It makes working together very easy. The most commonly used phrase between us is “I know what you’re going to say, but…”!
W&H: What does your creative process look like?
TB – Making an album was always a lot of fun. Especially working with Akarusa Yami. Tom Clarke, the guitarist, and I had a really fruitful working relationship. We were very similar in that we would work on our own thing at home and then bring the pieces together and put it together. I used to research different topics I wanted to discuss, kept loads of notepads and sometimes just have a verse or a few lines, and then build it from there. Tom would send me tracks over that I’d comb over, get a rough idea of what I’m going to do and then hop into the studio together.
Making a film is much bigger, so everything is much more thought out. Lighting, characters, actors, locations, props. Then its “Who should we hire? How many people do we need? What’s our time frame?” It’s a massive thing! Adam and I spent a lot of time just combing over the script, ironing everything out, pouring over every detail to make sure we had it exactly where we wanted. It might sound dull, but it was a lot of fun creating a world and filling it with interesting characters and ideas. This project has been the most fun I’ve ever had on a creative project so far.
W&H: You’ve described The Guiding Light as being “La La Land if directed by David Cronenberg” and the idea of a Videodrome type body horror flick that’s also an upbeat, traditional musical seems beyond incongruous. Would you like to tell us a bit about how the two elements come together?
TB – Its an odd one. We basically had a big melting pot of ideas when we started writing the movie and we wanted to see how we could mould the film into something very different and surreal. How far we could take certain ideas within the confines of a 15-minute film. We divided the film into three sections and carefully knitted each scene and each section together.
In taking this approach we were able to put everything under a microscope and make sure that it all worked together well. Of course, on screen it could look very different to how we imagine, and often what you see in your head is rarely how the final movie looks. However, you can come close and you can have an idea of where you’re taking something. That’s where we are now.
W&H: There’s a line in the press release that explains that the inspiration for the film came from a particularly difficult time in your life, but that as a consequence, you wanted to make something life-affirming. Do you think that the most affecting and authentic art tends to emerge from dark, difficult places and experiences?
TB – I do. I think going through something difficult, figuring a way out of it, a way of coping within it and knowing who and where to turn when things get rough can help too. I think taking that experience and understanding the intricacies of it through a creative medium can really help. However, I think time has to pass first. If you do it while you’re super raw, it can be detrimental, and you’ll just roll around in circles.
The script for this was written a year after my aunt Pat died, and time really needed to pass before I could tackle that topic with any clarity and figure out how best to tell that story. Some of the music I’m proudest of came about from difficult times in my life, and I think that’s great. I don’t look back on that music now and think “God, I was miserable”. I look at it and think “I love the energy that record had!” It takes me back to a time when I was in a room or on a stage with some of my best friends, flying by the seat of our pants and having fun.
W&H: You’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo? How is that going? And do you think that crowdfunding is probably the future for creative media?
TB – So far so good. Its an interesting thing. I was scared of doing it at first, because it seemed like this big, intimidating thing. Then as I got into it, I felt a little differently about it. I saw it as a chance to learn how to take a product to people directly. PR is one thing, but actively selling something to people directly is a little different. I’m also learning more about how to utilise social media.
As for a future medium, I think it’s a great way for people to raise cash for their projects and maintain independence. Crowdfunding has helped realise a lot of really cool projects, and if it aids inventors and creatives then I’m all for it.