We had the good fortune of connecting with Thomas George and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thomas, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I am notoriously bad at work/life balance: I think it all comes back to the filmmaker mindset that is driven into you at a young age when it comes to film. You need to give 120% to your craft and that’s the only way to be successful. I kept this same uneven balance throughout college, picking up as many set as I could handle (and sometimes more) on the weekends to feel like I was making the most of my opportunities. The word “no” wasn’t in my vocabulary. I’m like most film wannabes in that way, where hustle culture and working punishing hours is the not only the norm, but expected.
Things didn’t shift for me until spent some time figuring out what my larger goals were for what I was working towards. It’s very easy to do a lot of work when you’re green and passionate in a given field, but much harder to find that same love when you’re a professional. When I re-evaluated my goals, I came to the conclusion that what I really wanted was the freedom to chose when I work and when I spend time with my family. Having a family and being “successful” in the industry don’t really go hand-in-hand, so that’s been my goal for now. To build up Diversified work-streams to give me flexibility and stable income.
I would describe my balance as Work/work. Where my main day-to-day job is filled by capital Work, and my free time is spent on lower-case work. In capital Work, that’s anything that inches me closer to shooting narrative and commercials projects on a large scale. And lower work is anything that is distinct enough from the main goal that it doesn’t burn me out, but can contribute to my main goal. This can include running my rental business, creating and learning about marketing for businesses and brands, or pitching on commercial projects for a production company. All of these things offer unique experiences that can apply to my main goal while still giving me a break from the daily grind of it.
Yet this is only an evolution of my original goal. I’m still working on finding more ways to squeeze life into the equation, whether it’s a weekend off or a impromptu date with my girlfriend, I’m developing that side of my existence. But when I evaluated my goals, I knew I’d have to sacrifice my balance on the immediate, in order to have control when I actually wanted it. Who’s to say if it will all work out in the end, but at least I’m passionate and excited about the future now and I’m inching towards my larger dream without getting sick of it.
I know this isn’t the healthiest or best way to go through life, we’re all works in progress after all. Yet, I’m content with my progress and will continue to find new bits of work I’m passionate about and reach my dream.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’d always been into making art when I was younger, and video takes less raw talent than drawing, painting, or writing. Obviously filmmaking takes gobs of talent but you forge from the real world which means that everything isn’t created from scratch or limited by your physical abilities. The meaning comes from what is in the frame.
As far as how this makes me different from anyone else, I really doubt I have something profound to say there. Unfortunately most artists are pretty similar in broad strokes and in the film industry, there are so many amazing cinematographers that you can’t choose wrong. So I don’t think there’s anything inherently special about me. I am blessed with an amazing group of collaborators around me who seem to like working with me and helped me get where I am. With cinematography, all of the creation is in service of someone else’s vision which means my art is always intrinsically linked to someone else’s vision. I’d like to think that if you notice the cinematography in the right capacity then I did my job correctly.
I’m at a place now where the technical aspects are engrained enough that I’m able to support the director reflexively and focus more on the artistic side of my job but the pathway to that type of experience is forged in years of onset work and on-the-job learning. Werner Herzog said, In filmmaking you can learn everything technical in two weeks, but id add that the mastery over those techniques takes years and years. A lot of the technical tends to get in the way and I’m proud I’m getting to a place where I don’t think about it as much and can just simply create and get back to what was fun about making art in the first place.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Really depends on the best friend here, because there’s so many different things to do in LA. We’re definitely going to one of the quieter beaches and getting some food while there. I’d probably take them out and around to meet my friends and we’d get some food, Elio’s wood fired pizza would be at the top of my list.
It’s lame to say, but I tend to like to stay home and connect on a intellectual or emotional level and go out sparingly. A lot of the people I’d consider my best friends are similar in that regard so expect a low-maintenance and chill time haha
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There’s honestly too many people to name when it comes to getting where I am, nobody does anything alone.
Forced to choose just one, I’d thank my mom for always believing in me and making me believe in myself that I was capable of what I envisioned. She always keeps me levelheaded and has my back. She’s the best!