In the 1967 prison drama film “Cool Hand Luke”, the eponymous character is thrown in jail but refuses to be beaten down by the system, earning the respect of his peers with his tenacity and grit. Much like Cool Hand Luke, Tom Phillips is an artistic rebel with determination to boot, and the talent to back it up.
Tom Phillips is a New-York based filmmaker who shaping up to be New York City’s baddest new independent filmmaker. His latest film, Between Wars starring The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli, is now available to stream on Vimeo.
A passion project written, directed, and produced by Philips himself, Between Wars, is a look at the life of a war veteran, Franny Malloy (played by Sean Paul Costello) from Afghanistan struggling with PTSD and providing for his family. To the dismay of his PTSD psychologist, Sarge (played by Imperioli) who is trying to help him to recovery and getting his life in check, Malloy gets involved in the world of underground UFC matches. Between Wars examines the realities of human conditions and isolated individuals under agonizing circumstances, and takes a deep dive into powerful societal issues like the struggles of war veterans.
Tom Phillips believes that every artist must have full creative freedom, and prides himself with having a crystal clear vision in his work, refusing to submit to any authority that might hinder him. “As an artist, I knew breaking rules was imperative for this story,” recounts Phillips. “In fact, the more rules the artists involved wanted to break – the more dynamic the story became. Anyone who came to work on this project learned very quickly that this was a different flow and the players were creating something different. Allowing the actors on set to explore their ideas and use it in a way that would vibrate through the screen into the soul of the audience was the intention.”
While is he full of bravado and grit, Tom Phillips also backs it up with experience and recognition from the best in the industry. He began his career at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Manhattan, where he studied under Anna Strasberg as a playwright and actor. Afterward, he trained under Alec Baldwin in Baldwin’s Master Class in filmmaking, where he worked as actor and director for two seasons.
Between Wars was originally written by Tom Phillips during his time at Michael Imperioli’s Studio Dante, and the latter agreed to come on board with the film. While the script bounced in and out of several producers’ hands, it wasn’t until his co-writer, Joe Panebianco, was diagnosed with ALS -Lou Gehrig’s disease, did Tom realized that he needed to put all his cards on the table and make the film happen.
Having worked and mentored Tom, Michael Imperioli is a first-hand witness to his’ ability and his relentlessness. Recounting his experience working Between Wars, Michael has this to say: “Working with Tom is exactly what independent filmmaking should be. Hit the ground running, roaming the streets, stealing shots, running and gunning. It’s as far away from Hollywood as you can get and that’s the way we like it. All passion, inspiration, and fearlessness. Tom is as indomitable and tenacious as they come and that’s what it takes to make a truly independent movie… without a studio, on a shoestring budget, and defying the odds. This one is all heart and a fuck-of-a lot of soul.”
Between Wars is now available to stream on Vimeo, and you can purchase it on its website.