Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1959, much of Tom’s early interest in movies and monsters was a result of late-night broadcasts of the now-classic Universal monster movies and the stop-motion effects of Ray Harryhausen. Finally seeing one of the PLANET OF THE APES films in a theatre focused his attention on the craft of make-up, while getting his hands on his father’s 8mm home movie camera at 13 years old simultaneously encouraged his interest in filmmaking.While living so far from Hollywood, Tom’s only professional contact was through the mail, writing letters to the artists whose works he admired most, like John Chambers, who created THE PLANET OF THE APES make-ups. Early in high school, he began to crank out his own Super 8 movies, using friends as cast members and saving money for his own camera equipment. Later, in college, Tom was allowed to adapt an independent studies curriculum in Theatre to focus on filmmaking and writing and continued to work on his own make-up creations and filmwork, story ideas, and screenplays.
Tom finally made his move to Los Angeles in 1982. Six months of making the rounds of make-up effects houses finally led to his first paying job, working for a company on a 3-D science fiction film. It was soon followed by working for Tom Burman on BUCKAROO BANZAI and STAR TREK 3. That work, as well as an association with friends already involved, led to Tom’s joining Stan Winston’s team on TERMINATOR. That was the beginning of a five- year period which saw Tom become a key member of the crew under Winston, and had the opportunity to work on such features as ALIENS and TV shows as AMAZING STORIES, and TALES FROM THE CRYPT.
During this time, Tom began wearing the complicated make-up and costumes of the creatures designed at the studio. His physical build and tolerance as well as his ability to perform as an actor led to his portraying the title characters in such movies as ALIEN 3, MONSTER SQUAD, PUMPKINHEAD, and LEVIATHAN, as well as TV’s AMAZING STORIES.
During these years, Tom continued to write, ultimately teaming up with another of Stan’s designer-technicians, Alec Gillis, to co- produce, write, and direct THE DEMON WITH THREE TALES, a promotional piece designed to sell a feature anthology project. As interest was beginning to generate on the DEMON project, Winston was in a position where letting two of his main crew members go would not interfere with his plans. Tom and Alec formed AMALGAMATED DYNAMICS, Inc., primarily as an imposing- sounding source from which to pursue their own make-up and effects projects, but with the intent to use the company as an umbrella under which their own film productions can eventually grow.
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