Hello Thomas Burke, it’s a pleasure to have you with us for this interview. Congratulations on your award at last season of the “Indie World Film Festival”.
Q: Your new movie is “The Barbados Project”; in a few words, what is it about?
A: “The Barbados Project” is the first found footage indie creature feature to come out of the West Indies island, in Barbados. In summary, we follow a team of journalists who are attempting to uncover a mass global conspiracy involving the Barbadian government- who have supposedly come to learn that monsters have penetrated our universe from other dimensions, using portals as a subsequent gateway to create havoc and take control of civilization.
Q: When did you plan to do this film?
A: Initially, I didn’t plan to make ‘The Barbados Project’ at all. In fact, I had been fortunate to view an early screener of the film, back when it was under a working title, known as ‘The Trident – The Land We Call Home’. And after speaking rather extensively with both the production team, as well as our distributor, we all felt as if there was an opportunity to grow more inside the film- which we were all happy (and eager to do).
Q: What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?
A: I’ve received formal training in both acting as well as film production. However, what first got me interested in filmmaking was (in 2012) being given the chance to work abroad with a documentary crew in Angers, France. It was challenging, ambitious but also very thrilling, and indeed cathartic. This was due in part to myself and many of the other team members being first-timers on set. So I think overall that helped us work better collectively as a team.
Q: What can you tell us about your film work prior to this film?
A: Sure. I’ve directed on many short films throughout my career, and have also produced a number of feature-length narrative works, some of which are either beginning to surface online (and/or starting to screen via the film festival route). But I suppose you could say before that, I spent most of my efforts working in the field as a 1st Assistant Director (or 1st AD)- essentially learning the ropes behind safety, communication as well as various set protocols. It’s not an easy task by any means- but once gaining a better understanding and familiarity with that crucial role, it almost instantly propelled me forward into the world of film directing- which I happen to love.
Q: Can you explain or tell us some of the important elements of this film that makes it interesting?
A: Making any type of a monster movie is certainly going to be an ambitious journey, without a doubt. And many times myself, as well as others might feel defeated let’s say when a narrative misallocates their strongest assets by covering up a supposed continuity error- (or perhaps budgetary limitation) with some kind of unnecessary added filler space, ie. So, in order to alleviate that concern of ours, we decided to entertain this idea of reverse engineering (the commonality) by incorporating our primary focuses towards the creature fx and subsequent visual effect design- and to show as much variety as much as we possibly can throughout. We knew it would become one of our biggest challenges, however if done correctly, then it might also transpire into one of our greatest successes.
Q: How big was your team and what were the cameras that you used?
A: Actually the team was quite small. My co-director, Stockton led the team and provided oversight during the production portion of filming, whereas I jumped on board more towards the end of principle photography- managing and overseeing most of the post production processes.
Q: Directors (and indeed actors) who inspire you and what are your favourite movies?
A: My favorite film directors are: Kôji Shiraishi, Gus Van Sant, Nacho Vigalondo, John Erick Dowdle & Timur Bekmambetov. My favorite actor at the moment is Christopher Abbott. And then some of my favorite films which inspire me today are; The Place Beyond the Pines, Incident in a Ghost Land, SLC: Punk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 & Super Dark Times.
Q: Where can people see your work?
A: Right now most of my work can be seen on my website; thomas-burke.com — then I also have a couple of narratives that will be launching this year on the POV Horror channel… and I also recently teamed up with No Sleep Films and director, Isaac Rodriguez on ‘A Town Full of Ghosts’ – and a few other productions we will be announcing later in the year.
Q: What are your future projects?
A: Well a few of them I sadly can’t announce yet. But I am beginning production on two features later this year – both of which I’m absolutely thrilled about- and are going to be captured via the found footage style/format. So I’m excited to be making strides here soon. Then I’ve also spent roughly four years researching and writing a particular story that many might know little about- and sheds light on a particularly troubling subject matter that pertains to a fundamentalist religious group here in the US. I figure part of me had taken so long in writing this story because I just have so much I feel like I need to say, yet I’m also acknowledging & taking into account that I come from a place with zero background or experience in this realm… so for me I really needed to ‘prove it to myself’ first that I even had something noteworthy or viable to say. So now this film, tentatively called ‘Road to Zion’ will be a much different approach than what some might’ve seen from me in the past.
Q: Thank you for this very inspiring interview, Thomas. Here at the “Indie World Film Festival” we look forward to seeing and appreciating your new film productions!
A: Thank you so much for having me!