Documentarian Sets Up Shop In Brevard – Brevard NC
Story by Staff Writer Kevin Fuller at The Transylvania Times
December 21, 2015 | Vol.129– No.102
When documentary filmmaker Thomas C. Webb commits to something, he’s all in.
Webb, who recently moved to Brevard, spent 18 months documenting two Vermont luthiers building a mandolin for a documentary he released titled “Birth of a Luthier.”
“I can’t even tell you the hours I spent with them,” he laughs.
Webb, who came here from Vermont, is another talented artist adding to the pool of filmmakers, photographers and creative types that call Brevard home.
Webb has recently teamed up with local Eric Crews and Land of Sky Media, an Asheville-based production company. He’s no newcomer to the game though.
Webb has a long list of awards and recognitions, including an official selection into the Green Mountain Film Festival and the New England Online Film Festival for “Birth of a Luthier” in 2015.
He finished first place in the Brand North Carolina Video Competition for his work titled “Self-Portrait” in 2014. He also finished first in the Slice O’Pie Video Competition in 2012 for his work titled “Fear of Commitment.”
He’s been the featured filmmaker in Outdoor Photography Magazine and Savannah Magazine.
He also took the Best Cinematography, Best Documentary and Best Editing awards during the SCADemy Awards in 2012 for his documentary “Canyonlands.” That film was an official selection for the Savannah Film Festival as well.
Webb says it’s his dedication to connect with his subjects on an intimate level that helps him tell the story, even crossing the boundary of subject and filmmaker and becoming friends. Webb recently received a package in the mail from the two luthiers from Vermont, Roger Innis and Tony Lubold.
“It was a mandolin for my son,” he says, with more of a grateful smile.
He admits owning one of his own, and loving the craftsmanship of the instrument.
When it comes to the instruments of his craft, it’s another area Webb has completely dedicated himself to. He speaks of bit rates, camera models, lenses and magic software. It sounds like a foreign language.
“I’m kind of a nerd in that realm,” he admits. “I kind of geek out on it.”
He’s been geeking out for film for about as long as he can remember. He started by studying documentary film as a communications major at Appalachian State, where he graduated in 2006. He then studied film and television production at Savannah College of Art and Design, eventually receiving his master’s degree in fine arts in 2011.
“Thomas has an impressive film resumé with credits for MTV and Entertainment Tonight. He has also won a lot of awards and recognitions for his film projects,” said Tammy Hopkins, film liaison for FilmBrevardNC.com and executive director of the Transylvania County Arts Council. “I am so glad that he is joining us here in our creative community and I look forward to working with him.”
Hopkins said Transylvania County is a hotbed for film production. The natural beauty of the area, combined with a large talent pool, make it a viable place to shoot and produce.
“We have professional crew members and actors as well living in the area. This helps when productions come here, knowing they can find professional help,” Hopkins said.
With several feature films being shot in the area, including “The Hunger Games,” Transylvania County has recognized the economic impact and tried to create a network for the industry.
“One thing we always try to negotiate on a shoot, is to offer internships and apprenticeships for our young creative talent in Transylvania County that want to learn all aspects of filmmaking,” Hopkins said. “Recently on a shoot we used two students from the Blue Ridge Community College Film Department. We have also used students from Brevard High School and Rosman High School.”
It was the combination of sheer beauty the area offers and the pool of talent that Webb signed up for.
“It’s neat to work with and build the filmmaking scene here,” he said.
Webb says it’s always been a dream of his to be a filmmaker. However, shortly after college, that dream was almost derailed.
After graduating from Appalachian State, Webb headed west to take part in some Rock Climbing. He landed in Yosemite Valley and was quickly introduced to some guys from a production company in Salt Lake City. One thing led to another, and quickly Webb was offered an internship at the company. So, he packed his stuff and headed to Utah.
Shortly thereafter, Webb was questioning himself.
“When I started showing them my work, it was the first time somebody was telling it like it was,” he said.
Fellow workers questioned his judgement and what he was doing, not trying to bring him down, but as part of the creative process. It soon got to him.
“I felt like I had fallen on my face,” Webb said. “You start feeling like, why am I doing this.”
Webb stuck to it – because when he starts something, he finishes it.
The disappointment he felt in Utah led him to enroll in Savannah College of Art and Design. The disappointment had turned to inspiration.
“I took to going back to school and being around people who want to better their craft,” he said.
Webb dedicated himself to his craft, his passion. He just happened to get his start in the digital age and has seen the technology improve drastically.
Webb prefers to use smaller digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, cameras, which are relatively new to the filmmaking world.
“The gear is way light – and cheap,” he says.
Being a filmmaker having a niche for outdoor adventure and sports, having light gear is a must, Webb said. He’s shot mountain Biking, fly Fishing, Rock Climbing and Kayaking.
He shoots the things he enjoys. And he enjoys the things he shoots.
“I just want to go ride with friends – rip single track,” Webb said.
To check out Webb’s work, visit http://www.thomascwebb.com/