this is creative freedom: meet arielle thomas
In 2017, actress, director and producer Arielle Thomas launched Cinema Thom, a creative studio and production company based out of Melbourne, Australia. Specializing in film, fashion and photography, Thom is an artistic force that is by no means typical. Led by Arielle and supported by her small and dedicated team of women creatives, the collaborative is opening doors for not just themselves but the diverse group of artists they work with. Here, Girls & Glory had the opportunity to discuss Thom, their work, their successes and what the future holds for the girl boss in charge.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in acting/film.
I’ve been acting since 16, when I got my first agent. I then went to Drama School in New York. I came back to dismal attention so started a production company with an actor friend, Nick Denton. We’re completely self taught but I wouldn't have it any other way. I opened Thom 6 months ago to pursue directing and producing with a female voice.
You launched creative agency Thom in 2017 and are described as a female-driven company. Was this a conscious decision and what does being female-driven mean to you?
It was conscious in the sense that I wanted to encourage women and invite them to pursue their creative voice. If they stumble across us and want an internship, to collaborate or join our team, they may be that much more encouraged because of our female voice. I personally think the female gaze is really powerful, I’m building a career around it so I want to surround myself with inspiring women to get it done!
Introduce us to your team! Who are the women behind the films and photos?
There are three of us behind the scenes, myself, Dunja and Amber. As head of Thom, I oversee all three veins. We’re across narrative film & television, fashion photography & film and commercials. I work on two aspects for all three, I’m usually the one behind the camera calling the creative shots and I work to finance everything. Dunja coordinates the production across all mediums - very important - and Amber started as an assistant but is now art directing, content creating and writing for Thom. We also adore each other and it never feels like work.
Tell us what a day in the life of the Thom team is like.
No day is the same but we always start with coffee and a hug. If we’re on set for a shoot, we’ll get everyone across everything and have a ball shooting. If we’re in the office planning a shoot we’ll pull together moods, crew up, interview people, be pitching for other jobs or picking up PR loans for shoots. If we’re in post production there will be a lot of running around to different freelancers, a lot of back and forth to make sure everyone’s on board. More often than not, all of this happens at once.
Since launching, you've already provided potential clients and your audience with a plethora of content to indulge in! What inspires you when choosing projects to pursue? Are there certain thematic elements which you are drawn to more?--and why?
It’s been interesting progressing through the work we’ve done. I’m now in a position to say no which is nice, but on the flip side, I can also very easily say yes to work that comes our way even if we can’t seem to fit in it. We’re all hands on deck to get it done. There is a lot of freedom once you have a team which you know and trust.
I don’t just know and trust them, I loveee them. When it comes to choosing, I like to do things we haven't done before, and something that will evoke some sort of response to keep it interesting.
What is the most rewarding aspect of collaborating with the brands and production agencies you've worked with in the past?
Luckily for me, I love clothes and we get sent a lot. I love being able to interpret pieces, work with the faces, and piece together the creative direction for the shoots. When it comes to commercials, I just love being able to give the clients what they want, and hopefully produce some work that inspires.
As a woman and as a creator, what has the greatest challenge been for you as you've become involved in the entertainment and creative industries? How did you overcome it?
I’ve always had a confidence about me that has repelled any sort of mistreatment. I don’t second-guess my talent or potential, and I don't give other people the opportunity to do so either. I’m well aware of the pay gaps and statistics but I’m so rigorous in my planning and presentation, I don't really take no for an answer haha! My generation of women are getting some incredible opportunities with funding, networking, support and overall encouragement, I really hope we can keep the momentum and keep fighting for change.
What do you recognize as your greatest success as an artist and businesswoman?
The freedom to create is my greatest success. I’ve worked really hard to build teams with a great chemistry to build the work and have similarly-found fantastic channels to then distribute that work.
Are there any women that are inspiring you with the work they've done as artists/filmmakers/musicians etc.?
I really love the work of producer Christine Vachon and commercial director Karen Cunningham but I’m also very satisfied with those around me. My friend’s Mum, Terese Strauss just did her first ever art exhibition and sold all but one piece, I’ve got fashion designer friends, photographers, filmmakers etc, I marvel at all of their work daily.
What can we expect from Thom as you continue to grow as a company and put out content? Is there an overall goal you hope to achieve?
I just attended the Cannes Lion and I’m in a bit of an information overload. I’m in a time of reassessment and imagination again. My main goal for the company overall is to not compromise for anything artistically. Narrative films, television bibles, editorials, down to our promo cuts for Instagram. I want to be proud of it all. There’s a strong focus on finding my voice as a director, and I think that will also change the voice of the company as I go.