Updated: Feb 7, 2019
So another new year and another Hurtwood journey: meet Tom Gass – and indeed many of you have – in his role within the practical production process of the Media department. Like so many of Hurtwood’s sons and daughters, Tom returns to us on a regular basis to share his expertise, build on his own wider CV and generally enjoy the ongoing commitment to creativity that is Hurtwood. He also clearly enjoys catching up with us all, it has to be said.
Leaving Hurtwood in 2013, with Media, Theatre Studies and Photography as his portfolio, he was not at all clear of his direction, but settled finally on film school, securing a place at Ravensbourne. Acknowledging now with delightful honesty that he was something of a ‘lazy teenager’ (I quote), he regards as extremely lucky that he got a phone call in that gap year from the Media team, asking if he would be interested in helping out over the winter term with the filming of the students’ videos. He did so, went off travelling – Australia and the US, and so to studying. This is where he began to learn more about himself and what he wanted in terms of a career.
‘I was in a sense over-prepared for university,’ he tells me. ‘I’m a do-er. I learn from seeing how something is done. I’m not good at learning theory.’ So this is where the practical side kicked in. Knowing that he had been able to use his skills in a working capacity, Tom tells me that he began looking around for practical work in a wider capacity.
‘I began working as a runner, doing the boring stuff that you have to do if you want the responsibility of the more interesting work. I was working in lots of different circles, getting offered all kinds of roles: a runner here, a trainee there. You do it all, accepting that you get paid very little sometimes – and then you get the break. Persistence pays off – you get the chance with the bigger job, the ‘proper opportunities’. You get taken seriously.’
So now Tom is taken very seriously in the world of work, and he seems a very happy chap indeed. Still flexible and very much freelance, he still comes in to share his skills with us, and clearly loves working with our students – ‘Especially those who are so keen,’ he tells me. What would he do differently if he were leaving Hurtwood now, I ask. ‘Possibly take time to study outside London,’ he tells me. But he is very happy with where he is and how he has got there.
‘I love what I do and have got here more efficiently than the academic route, although this is not for everyone.’ I ask him to outline his roles right now. ‘I work primarily in film and television, as a cameraman and a camera assistant. I mix as well.’ I ask if there is plenty of work. ‘The amount of money is shrinking – you need flexibility; multi-skilled is what’s needed. You have to be flexible with multi-camera stuff and you have to show that you are hungry for it, for all kinds of work.’
It has been enjoyable to catch up with Tom before he gets back to work with the students. Lively and committed he is clearly a young man building an interesting and expanding role in a field that he loves. His enthusiasm is palpable. Is he still excited by the possibilities of his growing career? I think you know the answer.
Good to meet you, Tom.