Tom Vaughan: Film director

The Arts
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tom_vaughanA HELENSBURGH man is well on the way to becoming a top international film director.

Tom Vaughan, whose mother ran a nursery school and still lives in the burgh, attended the London premiere of his latest film 'What Happens In Vegas', starring Cameron Diaz, in April 2008, but also is a very important figure in the world of commercials.

Educated at Hermitage Academy, he was a successful child actor, and later studied drama at Bristol University, graduated with a BA, then moved to London to start making short films.

His first short 'Super Grass' won a distribution deal with Richard Linklater’s movie 'Dazed and Confused' and played in theatres across the UK as well as at film festivals. It was bought by Film Four and shown on national TV.

His next short film 'Box' caught the attention of the organisers of a Levi’s sponsored short film competition, and his comedy 'Still Buzzin' became the first film made under this scheme and was shown at festivals around the world. It too won a theatrical distribution deal, this time in front of Richard Linklater’s movie 'Suburbia'.

On the strength of 'Still Buzzin', ad agency St Luke’s approached Tom to direct a short film they were producing as part of a campaign for BBC Radio 1.

The resulting film 'Plotless' was again shown at cinemas across the UK and the four TV spots shot as part of the production went on to win Tom a Creative Circle Award for best newcomer'.

Within a year of this achievement Tom had shot a brace of commercials and won a BTAA Gold Arrow for his 'Yellow Pages' commercial. Since then he has successfully balanced an incredibly busy commercials career — which includes campaigns for Boots, Sainsbury’s, and Marks and Spencer — with his drama work.

His drama credits include 'Cold Feet' (Granada/C4),' I Saw You' (Granada/ITV), 'Safe as Houses' (Granada/ITV), 'Final Demand' (BBC), and his first feature film 'Starter for Ten', starring James McAvoy, released in November 2006.

He was named by Campaign as one of the UK’s ‘Hottest Directors’ and was selected as part of Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes. He has also won a bronze lion at Cannes for his 'Coco De Mer' spots which he directed for Saatchi & Saatchi London.

Tom has confessed that he developed his love of film at the former La Scala Cinema in James Street, and was particularly influenced by the original ‘Star Wars’ movie.

He said: “Realising that someone had directed it got me thinking about being a filmmaker. I can remember being eight or nine and shooting photos of my action man, GI Joe, as if they were in a movie.

Tom (tom-and-lucy-vaughan436pictured below left with his sister Lucy) started out as a child actor in hit Scots TV show ‘Stookie’, but soon found that he preferred life behind the lens.

He recalls: “A friend of my dad had a video camera and we got hold of it and made our own stupid films. After I was in ‘Stookie’, I had just enough money to buy my own video camera and I made films all over Helensburgh.

“We would go behind the house and out on the playing fields and shoot comedies, war movies, anything really. We would even do our own stunts with people jumping from windows. It was mostly comedy, though because we didn’t have enough money to make serious films.

“The last ones I remember us doing were when we were old enough to drive. We did these car chase scenes, but we never got very far because the police kept stopping us!”

Recently he was asked what advice he would give to anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps and become a film director.

He replied: “Make films and videos whenever you can on any format available. Follow your instincts. Learn as much as you can about making films but work out how to do it yourself, your way.

“You really only learn by doing. Theory is fine, but practice is what it is all about. Never give up. Learn from life. Take time to observe the world. Love the reality of filmmaking or find something else to do with your life. There are many better ways to become rich or famous.”