Thomas C. Gaunt is an award-winning filmmaker who has served as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer or editor on a variety of independent films that have screened internationally at film festivals (Heartland, Slamdance, Athens) and on television (PBS, Netflix, Sundance Channel and Pivot TV). Most recently, Gaunt is the director, co-writer and producer of the suspense thriller RED MAZE (2016) about a struggling boxer who makes an ill-fated decision in an attempt to provide for his family. RED MAZE won a ‘Silver Remi Award’ in the suspense/thriller category at WorldFest Houston, won Best Horror Film at the NCCC Film & Animation Festival and has been selected to premiere on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network as part of ‘The People’s Network: Suspense Edition’ later this year. Gaunt’s feature screenplay for his upcoming dramatic crime thriller THE NIGHT WATCHMAN (2017) was a ‘Semifinalist’ in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest, featured on The Black List and placed in the ‘Top 20%’ of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships. Gaunt also wrote and directed the short film DAYS END (2013), about an impending apocalyptic event that alters a young man’s outlook on life. DAYS END premiered at the Indianapolis International Film Festival and has been named an ‘Official Selection’ at over 22 film festivals.
Thomas fell in love with motion pictures as a young boy growing up in rural Indiana. Movies fed his flourishing imagination leading him to develop his visual talents in drawing and painting. It wasn’t until enrolled at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago that he took a special interest in filmmaking as a profession. Gaunt was encouraged by the success of his second short film CAUGHT IN THE LOOP (1996), an experimental documentary on homelessness in downtown Chicago. The film aired locally on PBS, screened at film festivals winning three awards including the ‘Gold Remi Award’ at WorldFest Houston where Gaunt became the youngest filmmaker to win the award in the festival’s history (surpassing Steven Spielberg’s win for his short film AMBLIN at age 22). The success of the film led to a three year internship as a production assistant for Kartemquin Films, known for producing such critically acclaimed documentaries as HOOP DREAMS (1994) and THE INTERRUPTERS (2011). At Kartemquin, Gaunt worked as a production assistant on a variety of documentary features such as STEVIE (2002) and VIETNAM LONG TIME COMING (1998).
Inspired by his experience at Kartemquin, Gaunt became a cinematographer on the documentary CORRECTIONS (2001) chronicling the privatization of American prisons which went on to premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival. He spent the next four years directing and producing his first feature documentary A PLACE CALLED HOME: AN ADOPTION STORY (2004), about an Indiana family’s unique adoption of nine siblings. A critical independent success, the film won a ‘Crystal Heart Award’ at the Heartland Film Festival and the ‘Audience Award for Best Feature’ from the Indianapolis International Film Festival before premiering on PBS in 2005. Later that same year, Gaunt provided additional cinematography for the Sundance Channel documentary HOWARD ZINN: YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL ON A MOVING TRAIN (2004) narrated by Matt Damon. Gaunt spent the next five years as producer, cinematographer and editor of the PBS documentary ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE (2012), about a group of Chicago artists who convert an old metal stamping factory into a communal work/live space for fellow creative people. ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE received funding from the Illinois Arts Council and was executive produced by Academy Award nominated producer Daniel Alpert.