Director Mike Lee Thomas - who has joined the roster at Pundersons Gardens - recently spoke to DAVID REVIEWS about his curious accent; his roundabout path to becoming a director; and the meeting of minds he's enjoying at his new berth.
Our meeting took place a few days after DAVID had made the acquaintance of Thomas Viney - PG's charismatic Executive Producer. Although this company may not be on your radar just yet, they have exactly the right approach to take advantage of the opportunities of an ever-evolving production landscape and their profile is sure to rise.
Like a lot of young directors, Mike Lee Thomas is not used to being interviewed and he's not entirely at ease talking about himself. But once he starts describing the process of uncovering the stories that reval our common humanity, he shrugs off his shyness and begins speaking passionately about the common ground he's found with his new EP, Tommy Viney.
Along the way, DAVID learns that Thomas grew up on Teesside and studied in his native North East before moving to Hackney. He's spent time overseas as well but it was a lengthy period working alone - with only podcasts for company - that shifted his accent into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
"I just got goosebumps, and it was that feeling where you're so overwhelmed and excited, you have to stand up and walk around."
Originally, he was studying multimedia design, having swerved away from architecture because of the terrifying commitment to years of study: "I kind of freaked out a little bit about [the idea of] being twenty-five and feeling like I was only starting my life."
The opportunities created by burgeoning technology helped broaden Thomas's skills. His multimedia course was "a combination of graphic design, web design, coding, user experience, user interfaces. It didn't really focus on anything specifically other than giving you a taste of everything. It was actually a really good three years to figure out what I got really excited about. Not so much the medium, but actually what made me tick as a person."
He found out more about what makes him tick thanks to a company in New York that created a piece of work for a band he was excited about. He describes the impact it had on him: "I just got goosebumps, and it was that feeling where you're so overwhelmed and excited, you have to stand up and walk around."
He had found his calling.
Thomas's insatiable appetite for learning continues to this day. His background in motion graphics was a good platform to learn animation but his real love is live action and he's set himself the task of learning more about performance so he can confidently direct actors.
This is what prompts him to talk with such passion about his ambitions for the future and his project exploring what it means to be human: "We shot in 11 countries around the world. People from different backgrounds, different races... It really moved a lot of people... They hunted me j[on] Facebook, and would say, 'you made me want to be a better person today'. I think that's what it's really about."