I am an award-winning filmmaker who has a passion for storytelling. As a result, I find myself telling stories in more than one medium. However, I haven't always been a jack of all trades. We all start somewhere, and any creative person could probably tell you that it begins and ends with your imagination.
It begins and ends with your imagination.
For as long as I can remember, my imagination has been there to feed me. Even as a kid, I would receive “visions” of different people in different situations. I wanted these things to come true, but I desperately lacked a medium to express them at the time. Eventually, I would utilize this talent as a filmmaker. However, this didn’t exactly happen overnight.
At the age of 13, I attended a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert. My father had received a pair of tickets from a friend, but my mother didn’t want to go. Therefore, I went with him by default. This concert, my very first concert ever, was life changing. Truthfully, I didn’t understand most of the jokes at the time; I was unaware of most of the originals Al was parodying. However, it was more than enough to spark a new beginning.
In the days following the concert, I began to look at “Weird Al” videos on a new website that I had never visited before. That website was YouTube. The internet was very new to me, so when I saw a message from YouTube telling me to upload my first video, you better believe my naïve mind responded promptly and with great haste. I swiped my parent’s still camera, switched it to the video mode, and made my first ever video. I officially became a filmmaker, I just didn’t realize it at the time.
Soon enough, I found myself with a group of friends who did nothing but make videos together. They were about what you would expect from a bunch of middle schoolers, but we thought it was pure gold at the time. We were known as Chicken TV, and we were the coolest kids on the block. Only problem was, there were no other kids on that particular block. We produced well over 300 videos within a year, which was about 300 more than anyone had asked for.
The next notable chapter of this story takes place during my sophomore year of high school. I had now joined marching band and was making more friends than I ever had before. I took the Flip camera footage I had shot of everyone throughout the season and edited it together (set to a “Weird Al” polka of course). I received more compliments on that video than any other before, both from fellow students and from the staff. People started to think of me as “a guy who makes good videos”. This would be taken to the extreme at the start of next year.
My junior year of high school introduced me to the first video class I would ever take. Videos from this class would be broadcasted to the entire school during morning announcements, also known as Athens TV. With a captive audience at my disposal, I began producing videos of all kinds. These videos included tribute music videos (Gangnam Style, The Lonely Island), parodies (Pure Michigan), and loads of other originals. Over 1,500 people would watch these weekly. Not every reaction was positive, but I had enough support from my friends and from my teacher to make me never want to miss a beat. By the end of my senior year, that teacher would create an award in my name. Since then, the best students of Athens TV receive The Thomas Butcher Award every year. It’s still kind of hard to believe.
I continued to make films following high school and throughout my college career with some help from my high school theatre teacher. I shifted my focus to producing original works almost exclusively. Soon after, I began submitting my films to local film festivals. I have now had several films play at festivals all over Michigan, the United States, and even the world. I am always on the lookout for my next project; I get new ideas every day.
During my later college years, I got involved in a student organization. It wasn’t a film society or a TV club, but oddly enough I was ultimately drawn to the radio station. WXOU became the core of my college experience. I learned how to produce audio as the station’s PSA Director; some of these pieces would go on to win national awards. As if that wasn’t enough, I started producing a weekly unrestrained comedy talk podcast.
I graduated from Oakland University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Broadcasting. Currently, I work as a Creative Content Coordinator/Producer for the Troy School District. Everything I do is with the intent to tell a story. I could tell you that I am a director, writer, producer, editor, actor, photographer, cinematographer, songwriter, vocalist, musician, and podcaster, but saying all of that sounds kind of pretentious, doesn’t it? I’m Thomas Butcher, and I am a storyteller.