Rob Savage is an up and coming British director who has a rapidly growing portfolio and numerous awards under his belt including the BFI Future Film Award. In the interview below, Rob discusses his first feature film, his other smaller projects, his inspirations and what he intends to do as a director in the future.
Why did you choose to become a director and what have been your greatest inspirations?
I was originally a massive comic book nerd and had ambitions of being the next Jaime Hernandez and while I’m still pretty good at drawing people I can never get my head around drawing backgrounds – houses, trees etc. One day my dad put me in front of Akira, which completely blew my mind and is still one of my favourite films of all time. I think that really bridged the gap between comics and film and I subsequently consumed as much film as possible, attempting to cover every era, movement and sub genre. I would watch sequences from my favourite films and try to recreate the camera movements on my flip cam including, disastrously, the overhead attack from Psycho – I taped the camera to the ceiling and, upon looking up, was smacked in the face by a falling mass of camera and sellotape.
At the age of 18 you set to work on your first feature film, ‘Strings’. Can you tell us a bit about the film and how creating a feature differed from your previous work?
Strings was the most gargantuan undertaking I have ever experienced and I think the only reason we pulled it off was because we were naive to how difficult it would be. I think the crucial creative difference between Strings and everything else I have worked on is time – both the longer running time (Strings clocks in at just over 88 minutes) that allows the characters room to breathe and the time we gave ourselves to shoot. Filming took place over thirty days in the summer of 2010 and allowed us a lot of freedom in exploring the characters and improvising some of my favourite scenes in the film.
Did working with a small budget cause any problems in any process of producing ‘Strings’?
Only marginally. Our major costs were behind the scenes as the narrative is very intimate and did not warrant a large budget. I took on multiple roles in the production, including cinematographer and editor – I think this saved us a lot in terms of knowing what was achievable. I knew what I would be able to achieve and what could be sorted in the editing process, which allowed us to shoot faster than we would have been able to with a larger crew.
In 2011, you entered the London Sci-Fi 48 Hour Challenge and came second place overall with Sit in Silence, as well as winning the BFI Future Film Award. Was working under a tight time constraint pressurising at all?
I found it very freeing. The most exciting thing about the whole experience is how it taught me to trust my gut instinct. A lot of time is wasted on film sets discussing decisions that deep down you know the answer to. On a 48 hour shoot, your first instinct is the one you follow and the results have a spontaneity and an energy that is often lost when working on a project that allows you time to over think.
You entered the contest again this year. Was the experience different second time round; any changes in approaching the task?
I’ve definitely learned a lot since last year and had a lot more experience under my belt. I think the crucial difference is that I have learnt to delegate roles more readily and I’ve built up a fantastic team of people who all excel in their respective disciplines. I took the role of cinematographer again this year but surrendered the position of editor to Riccardo Servini, who is fast becoming my regular editor and who cut my previous 48 hour film Polaroid.
Is working in the Sci-Fi genre something you’d happily continue doing, or would you prefer to branch out into other genres?
I think the reason my sci-fi films have got such a positive response is because I’m not a particularly massive sci-fi fan. Don’t get me wrong, some of my favourite films are science fiction (I maintain that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest film ever made) but I’m hardly a fanboy. What interests me the most when telling a science fiction story is the human element and rendering any extraterrestrial or futuristic component to a detail or a subtext.I’d love to continue making science fiction films.
Can you tell us about any of your up and coming projects and ambitions you have?
When Strings is released I am hoping to begin work on a second feature film as well as moving into further music video and commercial work. I have an exciting music video soon to be released for the excellent Dear Reader, a lovely South African band, that is completely different from anything I have made before. Right now, however, my main concern is seeing that Strings finds the perfect distributor and reaches as wide an audience as possible.
You can check out the latest teaser trailer for the up & coming Strings below!
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Follow Rob Savage on Twitter: @DirRobSavage
Rob’s personal website: www.Rob-Savage.co.uk