Student Artist Profile: Tom Hornberger

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Published December 13, 2016
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The Montclarion
Tom Hornberger is a senior filmmaking major with a minor in art and design. Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin.
Tom Hornberger is a senior filmmaking major with a minor in art and design. Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin.

Tom Hornberger is a senior filmmaking major with a minor in art and design.
Photo courtesy of Chantel Erin.

Q: What is your major?
A: My major is a BFA in filmmaking and I also minor in art and design.

Q: When you did you start filming movies?
A: I started making movies when I was about eight years old. My two next door neighbors, our sisters and myself would make weird little films where we would be either superheroes or traveled to a “strange” land, which was actually just one of our backyards. I remember making a film called “The Shadows,” in which we were superheroes. We made the lettter ‘S’ out of duct tape on our Under Armour shirts, then used the cheesiest special effects, but it was so much fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Q: When/why did you decide to pursue it as a career?
A: I think it was about ninth grade when I decided I wanted to go into film. I remember entering a short film contest called the 4,500 which was you had to write a script, shoot it and edit it in a weekend. It was a really intense process. Any school in my county could enter and then a month later, there was an award show where you could win awards for different things. Just being able to go through this intense process with my friends made me want to go into film. I liked challenging myself and being able to tell a story through my eyes.

Q: What do you specialize in? Can you talk about how you decided that type of film is your favorite?
A: When it comes to film sets, I really enjoy comedy. I hated comedy my first two years of college because I thought I wasn’t funny and that I couldn’t write, so I decided to write two dramas. After I wrote my first comedy in junior year called “That’s Life,” which involved an old woman taking her grandson out for the day, I wanted to do it more. For my senior thesis I’m writing another comedy called “Wet,” which all takes place in an indoor waterpark and how a plus-sized girl named Bailey wants to get with one of the cute coworkers.

Q: What experiences have you had filming? What have you learned through filming?
A: I have had a lot of weird and stressful experiences while filming which usually pay off in the end. One in particular that I remember is when we were shooting Rebecca Ghichlian’s Film III, “Blood Isn’t Thicker” and we had to go get a tarantula for her set. First off, I am terrified of spiders and will scream like a little girl if one is near me. So we ended up picking up this spider and then letting it climb over needles and stuff for a shot. Well, even though it was gross process and I wanted to run away the whole time, the shot turned out gorgeous thanks to the spider and Becca’s amazing director of photography, Ally Cedeno.

I have learned a lot through filming. The best lesson I learned is teamwork. If it wasn’t for a lot of the amazing filmmakers I have met on this campus, I would be nowhere near where I am today. My class in particular has some of the best short-filmmakers I have seen and I know they are going to make it far. In film, you just need to have a good team that works and communicates well. If you don’t, your film is going to crumble. People are always open to helping you in this field.

Tom Hornberger (left) and Asher Sosinsky (right) filming on set. Photo courtesy Chantel Erin

Tom Hornberger (left) and Asher Sosinsky (right) filming on set.
Photo courtesy Chantel Erin

Q: What is your biggest motivation?
A: Honestly my biggest motivation in my life is my dog Milo because he cares so much about the little things in his life that it makes me care about the big things in mine. Whenever I am angry, sad or stressed, I think of my dog and I’m happy once again.

Q: How has Montclair State University fostered you as an artist?
A: Montclair State University has made me such a better filmmaker than I was four years ago. The film professors here, (shoutout to Susan Skoog, Roberta Friedman, and Karl Nussbaum) care so much about their students and helping get them crew, locations, extras, etc. Professor Skoog has made me such a better screenwriter. I was so afraid to present my script in front of the class sophomore year and now I love presenting my script because of her. Roberta Friendman has made me really think about pre-production and locking all my locations and making sure my shooting script is the best it can be. Also she’s hilarious and keeps you on top of your shit. Karl Nussbaum, this guy is amazing, he has helped me a ton with production. In Film II, he makes sure you know what you are doing and what equipment you need for your film shoot. [Montclair State] taught me so much over these four years and I am really going to miss it when I graduate in May.

Q: Who are your biggest supporters?
A: Definitely my parents and my friends. My parents have encouraged and pushed me to reach my goals. My dad is also a filmmaker, so we always bond over movies and he always reads my scripts and gives me feedback. He is also an English teacher, so he will tell me if my writing is horrible. My mom is my biggest motivator and supporter. Whenever I feel like giving up she tells me to keep going and always overcome and work around my obstacle. My friends are amazing as well. They also encourage me to not give up and make sure I am always on top of my work.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations?
A: My biggest inspirations are Christopher Nolan, Joe Wright, and my sisters. Christopher Nolan really made me want to get into film after watching his film “Inception.” Seeing how he doesn’t like to use special effects and really make the actor feel like they are in that situation is awesome. I also applaud him for not being a fan of 3D because I also think it is a gimmick. Joe Wright, the director of one of my favorite films, “Hanna,” has made me think outside of the box. His films are always so creative and colorful. My sisters are probably my biggest inspirations because they are the hardest working people I know. My sisters never give up and always push themselves. They both are my role-models and amazing sisters.

Q: What’s your latest project?
A: My latest project…,called “Wet,” is a comedy. It takes place in an indoor waterpark and involves a plus-sized girl named Bailey who wants to get with the cute co-worker named Milo, with the help of her quirky friend named Kari. This is the biggest location I have ever shot at and I am really looking forward to directing it in February.

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