Thomas "Tom" J. Lefler graduated from Brigham Young University in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in English and American literature. He studied for an additional two years to get a master's degree in English literature and then later completed a master's degree in film studies in 1996.
Lefler began his film career working for the Utah Film Commission and functioning as the Information Office for the Utah/U.S. Film Festival that grew into today's Sundance Film Festival. For over fifteen years he has served as an administrator and faculty member in BYU's Department of Theatre and Media Arts. He facilitated interdisciplinary faculty-student projects that explored the impact of future technology on the arts, entertainment, and education. He has mentored students in producing a broad range of original programming including Le Afi Au Mu (the fire is burning), a one-hour documentary for Pacific Islanders in communication, the original 10-part PBS educational series Ancestors, and Call of Story: An American Renaissance.
More recently, Lefler produced Sisters In Zion, toe foi mai (“To Return”), and the regional Emmy winner The Christian Eye: An Essay Across England. He developed the short narrative film series, Writers’ Block, another Emmy winning series that mentors first time writers. Most recently he produced two feature film projects, For Robbing the Dead and Unicorn City. Together with his wife Laura Ellis Lefler, they are the parents of 5 children and soon to be 14 grandchildren.
At the beginning of April 2012, Lefler and his wife were featured on BYU Radio, where the two discussed the importance of grandparents.
In 2013, Lefler participated in the creation of the Christmas music video, Christmas in L.A. for the band The Killers. He helped manage the project and resources as co-producer with Cassie Hiatt and Kyle Stapley and director Kelly Loosli. In 2014, Christmas in L.A. tied with the film Owned to win the Outstanding Animation Award at the 2014 BYU Final Cut Film Festival.
In 2015, he and fellow faculty member Amy Jensen produced By Study, By Faith, a series of stories highlighting women faculty members at BYU. The same year, he was an executive producer for Nick Dixon's film Without a Rope, which won Third Place in the Short Film Competition at the 2015 LDS Film Festival. The film also received an audience choice award.
In 2017, Lefler was the faculty mentor of a documentary called Modifying Reality. The documentary follows a group of animation students who are trying to complete their senior film in hopes to meet the expectations of the award-winning films from the students who preceded them. The film also explores the BYU Center for Animation and how it has developed talented and marketable students.