Strings

Last week I went to the BFI Future Film Festival, and spent a packed day watching inspiring films by new filmmakers, and learning the secrets to nurturing your big-screen aspirations.

I was also lucky enough to grab 10 minutes with past Future Film Award winner Rob Savage, whose BIFA award winning film ‘Strings’ was screened at the festival.

There’s a lot of focus on your age- you’re only 20. How does it feel to be a role model for other young film makers?

I think it’s nice to feel that something I made could inspire people to make their own work, mostly because other filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater did very similar things with their first films, and that’s what inspired me to actually go and  jump straight into a feature rather than playing it safe and sticking to short films.

What made you realize that you could be a great director? And what gave you the courage to actually do it?

Oh, I still don’t know if I’m a great director! But I think I knew that I wanted to be telling feature-length stories instead of short stories, and I knew that the only way that I’d be allowed to do that is if I had one to already show. So I think I wanted to charge into it while I still had the freedom to experiment and do something wrong; because it was only my money that I was wasting.

I read about your computer tragedy in the early stages of strings. How did you manage to keep going?

Actually, that’s where Requiem came in. I’d written Strings as a short, and had even started shooting it with a couple of friends, and then my laptop exploded due to a power surge… So instead I used the money I was going to spend on that to go to the London Film Festival, and I saw Requiem. And I sent an email to the lead star, Sandra Hüller, and she introduced me to the lead star of Strings, and got me rewriting it as a feature.

How was the leap from short to feature? Was it daunting, and how different was the film-making process?

It was completely and utterly daunting, but kind of freeing at the same time, cause when you’re on a short film you say, “we’re gonna shoot for two days”, and what you’ve got at the end of two days is your film. Whereas with the feature we had a lot more freedom with how it was scheduled. So we’d try something out, and often found that a scene didn’t need to be so intense, or we could make the subtext a lot more important- an argument could be turned into just a whispered word because of where it’s placed in the film. ****

Do have a director you most admire?

I think maybe this week it’s Steven Soderbergh because he’s retiring. He makes these huge studio movies like Ocean’s Eleven which are still  really visually interesting and are really playing with the idea of what cinema can do, and then he makes these tiny independent movies which again are kind of experimenting with the form, and he just seems really enthused by making a film. You can really tell when a film-maker just loves the medium he’s working in, and I think you really feel that with every one of his films.

Rob is currently working on his second feature, a “dark coming of age drama, set in the South of France”. Can’t wait!