Simon Tatum is an award-winning filmmaker having shot all over the world for the likes of BBC, National Geographic and Discovery. He’s a long time friend and collaborator of Raintees so we caught up with him to see what he’s been working on.
Raintees: Hi Simon. So what drew you to documentary in the first place?
Simon: Well I’ve always been interested in people. Particularly people living on the fringes of society, living extraordinary lives. Documentary can really take people into worlds they never knew existed- it can open people’s minds and genuinely make a meaningful impact. That’s always been a hugely important part for me.
Raintees: Sounds like you’ve had some amazing adventures.
Simon: I have! I’m extremely lucky. I get to travel the world and experience things few people ever get to. That’s the amazing thing about documentary – you get to occupy a very intimate space with people and cultures. People welcome you into their lives and open up in ways they wouldn’t normally. It’s a real privilege.
Simon: There are so many. I loved being in the Amazon – with Raintees funnily enough. Living with the tribe, being so isolated from the rest of the world was just magical. To be there really is to get a glimpse of the world before civilization. You really get a sense of how small you are in a place like that. Just stunning. Another favorite memory would have to be my time with the community of Centralia, Pennsylvania – a small mountain town that was ultimately destroyed by a mine fire burning beneath it. That was really my film school. I spent two years there, on and off. I really taught myself how to make a documentary by just getting out into the field and doing it. It’s a subject I’m going back to actually.
Raintees: Which leads me to my next question – what are you working on?
Simon: Well the Centralia project is going to be pretty special – a documentary filmed over the course of twelve years. Really enabling me to tell the story of the community in a way that has never been done before. But these days I’ve been moving further and further back into the world of movies. I’ve written three feature films and a number of drama pilots, but the project I’m most excited about is a stop motion animated feature film I’m doing with the team behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. It’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! It was a lot of fun to write. I can’t wait for people to see it.
Raintees: How did that project come about?
Simon: Well it’s an interesting story. I was an Assistant Director on Tim Burton’s ‘Corpse Bride’ so I had established relationships with some of the greatest animation talent on the planet. But it really came about when I bumped into the director in my local supermarket. We went for a coffee to catch up and I very casually mentioned the story I had in my head. He just looked at me and said “That is pretty much my dream project. Let’s do it.” It’s funny the way things happen in Hollywood.
To learn more about Simon and all of his exciting projects check him out here!
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