This week’s guest blog comes from Chris Thompson. An up-and-coming film maker, designer, and artist – Gerry Anderson was extremely impressed by Chris’ work. Here he tells us how it all started, and gives us a brief history of how Gerry Anderson inspired him.
“I can’t remember the first Gerry Anderson production I saw. In a way it is as though the shows have always been there. I probably caught Thunderbirds on its 1992 renaissance back when I was two-years old. While the intelligently written and advanced plots were totally lost on me, the show had two major factors that captured my attention: things that went “zoom” and things that went “boom”. It was only when the film came out in 2004 that I got back into Gerry’s work in a big way, finally realising there was more than just fantastic visuals: really good stories were being told. This started me on my film-making career.
I used the shows almost as my personal film school, learning how to set up and frame shots and mimicking scenes with ancient video technology. I also taught myself 3d modelling and animation so that I could recreate the vehicles and do special effects. Eventually I started writing original work and designing original concepts. This all came to a head in 2007 when my friend, Guy Taylor, and I co-wrote an hour-long pilot to our own series, E.D.F Earth Defence Force, a very Anderson-esc story about a top secret organisation set up to defend the planet in a universe where we were very much out of our depth. The pilot itself, “Into the Abyss”, featured the EDF trying to recover the reactor of a crashed ancient alien derelict from the bottom of an ocean trench before it exploded. I’m still quite proud of the film, even if it was made by 17- year olds.
In 2009, inspired by several American fan film groups, I decided to do a film showcasing my vision of a live action remake of Thunderbirds. It was a simple story featuring Thunderbird 3 trying to rescue the crew of the International space station during a meteor shower. The production was plagued with problems, computers exploding, faulty sound gear, radically changing facial hair et cetera, but we persevered. What really caught me by surprise was how the fan base supported us and gave us the motivation to keep going. Through a friend we were even able to ask the magnificent Shane Rimmer to provide the voice of Jeff Tracy, and I made many friends on the newly launched Fanderson forum. The film went live on 1 July 2010 and got about 3000 views in its first week, not quite viral, but far more than I had anticipated. Looking back on it now, the film was very flawed and a tad cringeworthy, but considering all the opportunities, jobs and the awesome people I have met as a result of it,it is probably one of the most personally important films I have ever made.
TB2010 was going to be screened at the Fanderson TV21 convention, and the lovely guys at Kindred Productions asked me if I would produce some images that could be shown in sequence on the main screen. Digital art is not something I had considered before, but I gave it a go and did about 20 pieces in the months leading up to the convention. Afterwards I kept doing them and honing my skill. They provide a creative outlet for my fan-related ideas and mean that I can concentrate my filmmaking side on original concepts. The images have proved pretty successful, and, as result, I was able to provide some for the Haynes Thunderbirds Manual. I generally try to write a short background behind each of my pieces, so the picture tells a story, even if its something simple. To me the concept behind a piece of artwork is more important than the technique or medium it was done in, something a lot of people these days seem to forget.
When Fanderson offered me the chance to get one of my pieces of work signed by Gerry, I was nervous but decided to spend weeks creating the most epic rendition of Thunderbirds I could think of. The result, inspired by one of my Church’s stained- glass windows, is a rather “angelic” Thunderbird 2 lifting a damaged submarine out of a stormy ocean while two rescue ships are battered by waves. I hear he was very ill at the time, but he very kindly signed it anyway, and it now hangs on my wall: one of my prized possessions.
Nowadays I am an independent filmmaker and a freelance artist/designer. I continue to make short films and do artwork based in exciting and imaginative worlds. I use whatever resources are available to create the most cinematic experience I can, just like Gerry Anderson and his team did over 50 years ago in a warehouse in Slough.”