DISCOVER Phillip Thomas
Phillip Thomas is the director of
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into filmmakinng.
I’ve been a film lover my entire life. Both of my parents love and appreciate films of all kinds from all over the world, so I think that wore off on me as a kid, but at no point when I was a kid did it ever register with me that making movies could be a career. I just loved consuming films. I had a TV and VHS player at the foot of my bed and I’d fall asleep to ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ almost every single night. I had never seen anything that cool in my life. That’s when I decided to sign up for the video production class in my high school. I mostly just used my class time to edit skateboard and snowboard videos with my friends, which resulted in the school creating a rule against using the video production computers for anything except class assignments, ha!
Once I graduated high school I pursued a snowboarding career that ended in a couple of reconstructive knee surgeries (an ACL tear in each knee). With the copious amount of time I had laid up in bed recovering I was back to consuming movies all day every day and decided that’s what I actually wanted to do with my life. With absolutely no concept of how to actually write or make a film I began jotting down movie ideas in a note pad. As I healed, I painted houses and did masonry work to save money so I could move to Vancouver.
After a move to Vancouver I continued working construction and slowly figured out how to make films. After a couple years an opportunity arose for me to be a production assistant on a commercial set and everything really started to fall in place after that. I absorbed every bit of knowledge I could about how a set was run and within five short years was producing commercials and indie films, directing short films, writing feature scripts and all that. It’s been an amazing journey so far; I absolutely love making movies.
Q: Who or what inspires you in your craft?
Honestly, just really great storytelling. When I see a film that resonates with me I get so excited, that energy drives me to make my own films. There are filmmakers that continually inspire me like Paul Thomas Anderson, Bennett Miller, Lynne Ramsey, Andrew Dominic, Kelly Reichardt, Tarantino, Spielberg.
"My entire life is a series of lessons learned from moments that could easily be perceived as failures"
Q: Tell us about your film, what its themes mean to you and what you hope others take away from it.
On the surface Cake Day is a film about the challenges of recovery and the internal turmoil and subsequent shame of relapse, but for me the film is really about dignity and the recognition that success and failure frequently arrive together. My entire life is a series of lessons learned from moments that could easily be perceived as failures… But is it really a failure if you’ve learned a valuable lesson? Those are some of the bigger themes I hope are felt, not necessarily fully realized as a viewer, but at least felt while watching. I don’t love when I am bashed over the head with a theme so if someone doesn’t fully understand the moment that is okay by me. I just want them to feel it.
I wanted to highlight addiction and recovery through an empathetic lens for viewers who have no personal experience with it, and for viewers that do, I wanted to share a relatable moment of a man recapturing his self-worth and dignity within a moment that can be perceived as a failure.
Q: Are there any causes that your film is inspired by?
There isn’t one singular organization or cause, but the daunting and commendable journey of recovery was the inspiration behind the film. I hope this film works as a bridge for people to relate and empathize with addicts and better understand the tribulations of those in recovery, and for those in recovery I hope it serves as inspiration to maintain your dignity and self-respect in some of the darker or more challenging moments of the journey.
Q: What's next for you?
First and foremost we are going full steam ahead on an Oscar campaign for Cake Day, trying to get as many eyes on it as possible. So thank you for allowing us to be part of your platform!
As far as projects… I’ve got my heart set on shooting a feature film next. With several scripts ready to go, and more in development, I’m happy to see what pulls into the lead as things develop further.