Having continued to make short films since graduating from SAE Glasgow in 2010, Tom van den Hurk’s career has gone from strength to strength.
Originally from Germany, Tom’s love of filmmaking was ignited at the age of 15 when he, alongside a friend, applied to feature in a documentary that needed young local people. Unsuccessful in the casting, both were instead given the opportunity to help out on the production for three days. It was at that point Tom became inspired by the way the production brought so many people together - an aspect of filmmaking he still loves to this day.
“The comradery between people - I loved that. That’s why I like film because it’s an art form where so many people come together… it’s almost like an orchestra, everybody has to pull together.”
After completing high school in Germany, Tom moved to Edinburgh where he came to discover SAE, eventually enrolling at the Glasgow campus. It was there that he gained a good insight into all aspects of filmmaking, picking up the technical skills that prepared him for the industry.
“I have very fond memories and the fact that it was very practical helped me so much.”
Since graduating in 2010, Tom’s career has involved “everything you can imagine.” From being a runner to working as an extra, Tom was able to get close to the camera, observe the production process and learn a great deal.
With these valuable experiences, Tom highlights that other budding filmmakers should be prepared to do other roles in order to network and learn: “Get your foot in the door while you’re still at college… it’s all about making the contacts,” he explains.
In terms of his own filmmaking, Tom’s short films have become increasingly successful. His previous film Blue Hour was shown at the National Galleries of Scotland, which for him was a real career highlight.
“It was part of the contemporary Scottish art exhibition and to me that was very important. To me filmmaking is an art form and to be in the national gallery of the country and shown as part of contemporary Scottish art - that was a huge honour to me.”
Following on from the success of Blue Hour, Tom is now crowdfunding for his next film Jack which explores similar themes of familial abuse. Told from the perspective of young Jack, the film will echo the darkness of Grimm’s fairy tales, with Jack having to escape from his violent mother through his imagination. Based in a contemporary setting, the juxtaposition of the fantastical imaginary world against the horrific reality of Jack’s mother’s violence makes the film all the more interesting and poignant.
“I think storytelling and going into an imaginary world is something that we all like to do and it’s really important,” Tom explains.
There is already a considerable amount of interest and support for Jack, with the funding target already reached. Casting is due to take place very soon, and plans are already in motion for SAE Glasgow students to do some shadowing when filming gets underway in March. However, with plans for the post-production to take place in New York, Tom is keen to raise more money and give more people the opportunity to be involved in the film.
With the future looking positive, Tom tells us that despite experiencing rejection like everyone else, he uses it as motivation:
“I have learnt to fuel myself with that rejection. I heard this amazing quote recently by Winston Churchill, he said ‘Success is going from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm’ and I think that’s really true.”