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Conversations with Thomas Pallier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Pallier.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My first love has always been movies. I think I inherited that love from my father. He was a businessman, and therefore a very busy man. But he made sure that when he was home, we would spend quality time together. And that meant storytime. He was a great storyteller. He always invented stories on the fly about giants, silly robbers, and other funny characters I loved as a kid. As I grew older, he took me to the movies to show me other storytellers’ work on the big screen. He loved big epic Hollywood stories. We went to the theatre for new releases, and for his all-time favorites, we drew from his extensive movie collection. I think these early memories are the foundation of my love for story and film. When someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always film director. That did not change. What did change was the realization that this would be a long and challenging journey for me. I grew up in a small town in one of Germany’s wine regions, surrounded by vineyards and green fields that seemed endless. I have so many fond memories of how beautiful it was, especially during fall when the colors turned from luscious green to earthen orange and red. That was also the time when I used to help the winemakers harvest the grapes. Which was hard work but fun. Just like filmmaking.

During High School, I started to write sketches and little short films. But soon, writing those stories was not enough for me. They had to come to life. My school had only a theater club, which did musicals and medium-sized plays, so I founded a film club to make movies with like-minded people. We mostly riffed on Monty Python sketches and B-Horror films. We had so much fun. After High School, I received a three-year training as an Audiovisual Designer at a German TV Network. That provided me with a great foundation of the technical side of things, most prominently in editing and camera. An even better side effect to this was that I could freelance right from the start during my freshman year in Media Production. In my last year as an undergrad, I spent a semester in L.A. where I first got a taste of Hollywood’s creative madness and the beauty of California. I just knew that I had to come here. But first, I wanted to get more practical experience in Berlin. I stayed three years to work in TV and plotted my next moves. I was cocky enough to think one of the great film schools has to take me. But during my research, I quickly fell in love with Chapman University’s highly regarded Film Production Program and went all-in. And now, here I am. In the best spot in the world, to be exactly who I am supposed to be.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I do not come from a family connected to the industry or a family with an artistic background. There was no one to give me a lot of advice on how to break-in. Or how to treat all the self-doubt a career in the arts or the creative side of entertainment brings—small problems compared to the real tragedies in my young adult life. My parents died while I was in undergrad, and of course, that changed all of my plans. But it also shaped me as a human being and surely as an artist. For me, the lesson learned is: Life is too short to spend it doubting yourself and bemoaning fate. It took me some time to recover and get back on track, but I eventually did. And it made me realize what is really important in life. Having deep connections with the people you love and care about. Something that gets easily blurred when pursuing your dreams. I am grateful for all the new friends and great people I met since I am here. I believe fostering connections, honest collaborations and building your own network is the key to continue my journey successfully.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a directing student at Chapman University’s Graduate Film Production program. I will graduate in 2022, and I am currently developing my thesis script for that. I am very excited to shoot my final short films at Chapman and take my next step towards the industry. Although this is a bit scary to bid Chapman goodbye. All my Professors welcomed me with open arms and provided tremendous support, and made me felt seen. I will be forever grateful for that. Editing is one of my strongest suits besides the classic duties as a director. I always enjoyed sitting in the editing bay and finally putting the pieces together. For the first part of my early career, I had the misconception that I had to do everything on my own to get it right. Now, I am wiser and know that it takes a great team to make a great movie. I have always had a can-do attitude, and one of my mottos is: “Yeah, then why don’t we just stop talking and do it?”

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
In short: Almost everything takes longer than you think. Joking aside, to be honest, COVID-19 is a blessing and a curse. It made me sit down at home and use all my newly acquired time to write and develop scripts and stories. But at the same time, it separated me from real life, from meeting new people and experiencing the world in its rawest form. It also reminded me how important your friends and family are to stay sane and happy.

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