Keizertimes. (Salem, Or.) 1979-current, June 16, 2017, Page PAGE A6, Image 6

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Thomas exits stage for fi lm school
Of the Keizertimes
Ashton Thomas, the son of
middle school choir and dra-
ma teachers, has spent as much
time in the Ken Collins The-
ater as any McNary student
over the past four years, acting
in plays or musicals and sing-
ing in the choir.
But in college, Thomas has
decided to step off stage to go
to fi lm school at Azusa Pacifi c
University in Los Angeles.
Thomas said the decision
has surprised many in the
community who have praised
his work after performances
like Gomez in The Addams Fam-
ily musical earlier this year.
“I was fl attered but at
the same time I feel like go-
ing as anything else but fi lm
would be, I don’t want to say
I couldn’t do it but you have
to have a certain mindset and
drive for that sort of thing,”
Thomas said. “I don’t think I
would be able to keep up with
the rest of the world out there.
“Not to say that I don’t
love it (theatre) and I don’t
really enjoy doing it more of
just a hobby or for fun sort of
thing, I do. I feel like fi lm is
a lot more comfortable and I
still get the same artistic bene-
fi ts and I still get to reap those
rewards without necessarily
having to compete in such a
hard, dense, fast-paced musi-
cal theatre world. Behind the
camera you can just show up,
Ashton Thomas was on the Ken Collins Theater stage as Go-
mez Addams one last time during the Golden Onions.
work hard and just be artistic.”
McNary drama director
Dallas Myers, who presented
Thomas with one of three out-
standing senior actor awards at
the Golden Onions, wishes he
would continue theatre but
knows Thomas will excel in
whatever he does.
“I know you’re going into
fi lm and I’ll continue to shake
my head for as long as I live
but you’ll add life on the other
side of the camera I’m sure
every day of the week,” My-
ers said.
“You are a gift to this stage.
A dynamic, transformative ac-
tor and a professional in every
sense of the word, unbeliev-
able, and can do anything on
stage and anything that I ask
Feel Our Warmth
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him to do, he’ll do it. Every
single time you grow and you
transform yourself.”
Myers used the example
of Gomez and Lumiere from
Beauty and the Beast, as similar
characters that Thomas was
able to make different.
“They were so different
and so wonderful and rich and
full body and that is something
that professional actors would
die for,” Myers said.
While Thomas grew up
acting, singing and danc-
ing at Children’s Educational
Theatre in Salem and in the
annual cabaret at Whiteaker
Middle School, his interest in
fi lm began as a sophomore at
McNary when he took his
fi rst media productions class
with Jason Heimerdinger.
“Right away Heimerding-
er and me just connected,”
Thomas said.
“I would spend hours ev-
ery night just watching fi lm
tutorials and Youtube things
so that was my fi rst clue that I
was going to do fi lm because I
wasn’t spending hours watch-
ing musical performances or
new choir songs. It was all
about fi lm for me.”
At McNary, Thomas has
worked on the Celtic Net-
work News program and pro-
duced the senior fi lm at the
end of the year.
“I’ve found I like the pro-
duction side a lot more, rather
than sitting back at the com-
puter,” Thomas said. “I love
being out with the camera ac-
tually fi lming things and then
editing it.”
At the senior awards ban-
quet, he was named one of
two Media Productions Stu-
dents of the Year.
“Ashton appreciates taking
the time to make something
look beautiful rather than just
pointing a camera and hitting
record,” Heimerdinger said.
Thomas was also paid to
produce two commercials for
the Salem-Keizer school dis-
trict. In March, he directed
a short fi lm, APEX, for Mc-
Nary’s One Act Festival.
When looking at colleges,
Thomas applied to three fi lm
schools in Los Angeles and was
accepted into Azusa and Biola.
The decision ultimate-
ly came down to money.
Along with a $64,000 aca-
demic scholarship, Thomas
is receiving a $20,000 grant
and $12,000 cinema and arts
scholarship from Azusa.
“This is the fi rst time
they’re doing a cinema arts
scholarship of any caliber at
all,” Thomas said.
“I was actually very sur-
While on campus, Thomas
also auditioned for the Azusa
John Sutton, director of
choral activities, was so im-
pressed that he offered Thom-
as a $15,000 scholarship per
year if he changed to a music
Instead, Thomas is getting
$4,000, the cap for non-music
“He (Sutton) really, really
liked me and he had some
very nice things to say,” Thom-
as said. “I was very blessed by
that. It defi nitely had me re-
thinking a couple of things.
“I do love choral music, es-
pecially this year with the new
choir teacher (Joshua Rist)
here. He’s really made that de-
cision hard to not be a music
major. I will be performing in
one of their choirs because the
way scheduling works out, it
would be too hard to do more
than one. It’s a great deal. I get
paid to sing in a choir.”
Thomas is thankful for Mc-
Nary, which allowed him to be
a part of so many things while
helping fi gure out what he
wanted to do with his future.
“I think being in such a
great place for the arts, such a
great school that does it all so
well has provided me with a
lot of great opportunities to be
a part of everything without
overextending,” Thomas said.
“I’ve always had time for
everything and I’ve always
been able to feel like I’m com-
mitted to everything, and I
feel like it’s helped me sort out
what I want to do with my
future, which is all I can ever
ask for.”