St. John's Confidential File
HELLO AMERICA!—It is very seldom that an actor arrives in Tinseltown, ready to tackle every aspect of filmmaking. This is why it was so refreshing to talk with actor, film technician Tommy Phillips, a gifted young man ready to do anything having to do with his passion of filmmaking.
MSJ: Tommy, you’re from the New York area; was it difficult to leave that kind of fast paced, survival of the fittest existence, the world has always made to believe? And what made you make the big decision?
TP: It was difficult to leave, but once I got here it took time to adjust. I remember the first couple of times I was on set people would say “Damn your so intense calm down.” Then they would find out I was from NYC and laugh and say “That’s why!” I decided to take the plunge, because of business opportunity. Someone once said you get your base in New York, but you get your career in LA.
MSJ: Did the slower pace of Hollywood and the more relaxed atmosphere make you feel uncomfortable? How did you find the people (other actors, agents, casting people) in the industry – were they easy to get to know?
TP: I had made a very strong network of people in New York. So when I got here I was lucky. A lot of my friends had made the move, and really helped me steer around the potholes of this industry. I find that when it comes to the business, LA and New York want the same things: Work Ethic, Talent, and the ability to know that this is a BUSINESS, so don’t take it personal, just like any other business it is about making money. I don’t mean that in a cynical way, it is just that most kids come here for stardom, and I came here to make a livable wage doing what I love to do. If I were a chef I would open a restaurant, I am an artist, so I’ll just make a movie!
MSJ: What was your first actual job after being here a few months or so? Was this a period of facing a kind of reality of what you really wanted to do with your life?
TP: You know, the first big job I did when I got here was being a teleprompter operator, for various commercials and TV shows. But the kind of reality for me was different than most. I got on the lot and saw a New York City set… It looked just like home! And I realized right then and there that I was meant to be in this business, that dreams can and will come true. I learn something very important. All of these people you see on the big screen are just that. They are people. They have lives and families, financial problems, and fear of failure. For some reason people think that there is this untouchable barrier that separates the “stars” from normal folks, but secretly we are all the same. I think fear stops us from the lives we want to live. That somewhere we all think that we don’t deserve to belong or that we will never be discovered. But that is just fear, and fear isn’t real. Hard work and persistence, that is real. Anyone can make magic, they just need to learn how the trick works.
MSJ: Who were your idols in the business – people who really made you believe that Hollywood is the place where you belong?
TP: Joss Whedon. I think he is a genius. And if you follow his career he has had some major upsets. His speech on the DVD of "Serenity," inspired me to keep fighting, to never give up on my dreams, cause anything is possible if you believe in it. I wanted to work for that man! Be part of a team with that kind of attitude! I am happy to say as of November I had that dream come true.
MSJ: What kind of roles or characters you feel most comfortable in playing, i.e., theater, television or film and why?
TP: That is a tough question. I like to be challenged. I like to play characters that I would want to fight for. Who I’d want to be my friends. I like characters that have heart and never give up even thought the rest of the world is against them.
MSJ: What has been the most difficult reality you’ve had to face so far in the business?
TP: That you need help. You can’t do it alone. I think it is like climbing a mountain. You have to have the right gear, and the right guide… cause it is a long fall to the bottom.
MSJ: What makes you laugh?
TP: My girlfriend. She makes me smile everyday. Oh and witty banter. And bad puns.
MSJ: When you look in the mirror who and what do you see – and does it make you feel good or sad?
TP: That depends on the day. Kidding. When I look at myself I see a man, who has been on a long journey. Who may not have all the answers, but is damn sure he is going to find them out. We have a saying at our apartment. Everything is turns out good at the end, so if it isn’t good. It isn’t the end.
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