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6th June 2023
Living the Dream
Title of film: Mango x Simon Miller: The Escapade
Director: Tom Dream
Escaping the intense energy of London for the faded coastal charms of Margate on the Kentish coast, RSA director Tom Dream got more than fresh air, a slower pace of life and the beach on his doorstep – he became part of a newly-emerging creative hub and saw his film career take off. Brimming with retro-modern vibes, quirky characters and nostalgic moments, his fashion films, music videos and docu-shorts stylishly blur the boundaries between fact and fiction – leaving the viewer with the curious sensation of inhabiting an imaginary reality. After all, this is Dream’s world – we’re just living in it

Mango x Simon Miller: The Escapade

Can you tell us a bit about your route into filmmaking? Did you go to film school or learn on the job?

I studied Psychology at the University of Manchester and then trained as a counsellor before finding a career in film. My uncle is a DOP on documentaries so I was fortunate to get an opportunity assisting him on a few intensive shoots before finding a position at a production company. I worked at Pulse Films for a couple of years as a receptionist and then went back into camera work, shooting live music and camera assisting on documentary feature films for Julien Temple. That’s where I really got inspired to begin directing myself, but it took a long time learning on the job and building my own confidence before I started making my own films.

Were intrigued by your Dream Analysis series with Celeste and Arlo Parks, and how the films combine your background in psychology and counselling with your work in music and filmmaking – how did the series come about? How do you think your psychology insights have shaped your films or approach generally?

Every time I worked with a new artist on music video visuals, I always wanted to know more about their creative process, their internal worlds and what inspired them to write. So this Dream Analysis series came about quite naturally, I was genuinely curious and wanted to find a way to merge a documentary approach with more abstract visuals that connected with artists and their own dream states.


Arlo Parks in Gucci, Knotted Gold

Margate, the once-faded coastal town thats increasingly being hailed as a creative hub – plays a big part in your career journey: your career really kicked off when you moved there from London, with the town playing a starring role in your breakout film for Gucci, Knotted Gold. Why has it become such a magnet for filmmakers and what does it mean to you as a creative?

I grew up in London so was used to the intense energy of the city, but it wasn’t until I started visiting Margate that I realised how distracted I was. I moved there with my partner Whinnie about seven years ago and immediately felt a sense of space and freedom that I hadn’t experienced before. In Margate I found a genuine connection to nature, just being able to see into the horizon, notice subtle changes in the seasons, how the position of the sunrise and sunset changed each month – that sort of basic stuff that I never really connected with before!

Also, in Margate I found a beautiful, inspiring, supportive and diverse community of artists, performers and musicians that provided new and exciting opportunities for collaboration, without any of the barriers that I had experienced whilst living in London. For some reason when I was living and working in London both the music and film industries felt totally impossible to figure out when I was inside it, like I was in it but couldn’t really see it or touch it. That was stressful and depressing, and the experience was self-destructive. Moving to Margate gave me space to think in so many unexpected ways.


Gucci, Knotted Gold

From fashion films to music videos and commercials, youve become known for work that blurs the edges between fact and fiction – particularly documentary-style films with fictional, stylised or fantastical elements, like Shy Radicals and Hornbachs Missing Letters campaign. Is that something youve always been interested in, or have gradually moved into that space?

I think I’ve always been interested in this, it’s fun to play around and blur these lines. I was definitely inspired by Julien Temple. Filming scenes with Bez from the Happy Mondays performing an ancient ritual as Bes, the ancient God of fertility and war, in the film Ibiza The Silent Movie, and creating tongue-in-cheek dramatisations of historical events using camera crew and people from the street who just happen to be around as supporting extras, always created a feeling of spontaneity and absurdity on set that I found deeply enjoyable then, and strive to emulate now. Not everything needs to be totally perfect and done by the book, because that can suck the fun and the feeling out of a film.


Gucci x The North Face

Music and sound is at the heart of what you do – as well as playing in a local band, youve made a slew of music videos and a documentary about the first mosh after Covid, and youre heavily involved in designing the soundtracks to your own films. How do you approach the process of creating a soundscape in terms of inspiration and working with the composer? What are some of the most challenging and/or reward soundtracks youve created?

I started making music for my films because I had to originally, and then I loved how much it helped inform the whole creative process, finding playful unexpected connections between sound design and visual concepts. For the first Gucci film set in margate I created the sound design from ice cream truck recordings, music boxes and recordings of a bowls game on location. For the next Gucci film I made with Francis Bourgeois, aka The Train Guy, I worked with my composer Steve Pringle to create a composition made entirely of synthesised train sounds during the pitch phase, which I think helped win that job. Since then, it’s become something I just love being totally involved with and something I have incorporated into my production studio Dream-Co.


Mango x Simon Miller: The Escapade

Springboarding off your two Gucci films, youve been directing a lot of fashion films recently including a New York Fashion Week film for Turkish womenswear label Raisa Vanessa, a new adidas Originals spot and a short film for Mango. What appeals to you about the genre?

As a kid I loved dressing up and showing off. My mum used to work in a secondhand clothes shop when I was at primary school, owned by a chain-smoking woman called Patsy, who I was convinced was the actual Patsy from Ab Fab at the time. Every day after school I’d hang out in that shop and I watched how much people loved dressing up and trying old coats on, and I loved it. I think that’s the feeling I always try to conjure in the films I make, I like making fashion films that feels a bit like these absurd childhood memories.


Raisa Vanessa FW23, Myramid

What led you to set up your own creative collective?

With Dream-Co I want to create a company that I can build up and develop over time, and offer more than just direction services, but sound and music composition, creative direction, and whatever the demands of a project might be. I noticed that the most exciting opportunities arise from following my own creative instincts, and being able to invest in my own niche interests. I also want to provide opportunities for young people in film to get experience on set and this will remain central to the company’s ethos as it grows.

Your latest film for Mango was shot on board a real cruise ship and features the crew and captain – tell us a bit about how the project came about and the highs and lows of the shoot?

Mango contacted me directly and brought this exciting collaboration project with Simon Miller looking for a way to create a fashion film that felt like a movie trailer set on a real cruise ship. The cruise ship was a fully operational vessel full of tourists, performers and cabin crew, so there were lots of absurd logistical obstacles to overcome, but I’m really happy with the end result. I got to cast from the crew on board to feature alongside our models as featured extras, and even recorded an A cappella performance of the cruise singer and then created a bespoke music composition with the incredible team at Massive Music. This was an unforgettable process and I’m really proud of the final film.


Adidas Originals x Man United: This Kind of Love

Youve also got a new adidas Originals film out, starring Fergie and a host of past and current football talent alongside real fans – what was the brief, how did you approach it and what was it like working with a mixture of talent and real people?

The brief was to conjure the feeling of the dream away day, to promote the reissue of the iconic 1988 Manchester United away kit. I was a massive United fan as a kid and had a huge amount of genuine football memorabilia including fan zines and photo albums to take inspiration from, as well as exclusive access to Manchester United’s incredible visual archive, which provided me with the voice over for the film – taken from a genuine interview with Sir Alex Ferguson in 1993, reflecting on the importance of fans and their impact on players’ morale and performance. This job was like a childhood dream come true, and it was an honour to work with Sir Alex, Denis Irwin and the legendary Lee Sharpe.

Interview by Selena Schleh


Mango, behind the scenes



Tom Dream website

RSA Films website


Mango, The Escapade

@simonmillerusa x @mango Production
Directed by @TomDream
Produced by @ikermongemaso @holidaysproduction__ & Dream-Co
Creative Producer @aattai
DOP @luke.c.harper
Art Director @mjgilg
Editor @aledordoni @okaystudio
Music composition @massivemusic
Colour by @timotheous @no8colour


This Kind of Love

Creative Agency: The Midnight Club
Director: Tom Dream
Producer: Alex Anderson
DOP: Luke C. Harper
Focus Puller: Samuel Harding
Art Direction: Clarisse D'Arcimoles
Stylist Jamie Jarvis
Music Composition: Steve Pringle and Tom Dream
Editor: The Midnight Club
VFX: Arsenii Pronkin Anchous Editing
Sound Design: Adam Smyth
Colour Grade: Jonny Tully
Director’s Assistant: Kane McArthur