By Danny Moltrasi September 4th, 2013
The course of life is never clear or without challenge, and with his debut feature, Strings, Robert Savage expertly examines how people deal with the inevitability of separation. Strings drew the attention of critics for the maturity of its young filmmaker, Savage, who was barely 18 at the time of making the film. The film went on to be nominated for Best Debut at the Raindance Film Festival, as well as Savage himself winning the prestigious BFI Future Film Award, among others. Strings shows what can be done with a small budget, young team, and some drive to make the most of what you have...
Where did the ideas for 'Strings' come from?
As a 17 year old first time filmmaker, I gladly took Robert Rodriguez' advice and adapted my ideas to what was available - all around me couples were facing the prospect of going to separate universities and bonds were being tested. Having already made the decision to make a feature before I even had a script in place, I thought I would use what was going on around me and to my own relationship with the prospect of university and adulthood looming.
How did you pull together the financing and the team to make 'Strings'? What kind of equipment was used?
Strings was almost entirely self funded from bad teenage jobs - initially the plan was to go ahead with £2,000 ($3,100) half of which had come from my local council, but after crunching the numbers we realized that the film could not go ahead without at least another £1,000 ($1,500) The very afternoon that we reached that realization I received an email from the Canadian Film Center - it turned out that a short film I hadmade for college had won their grand prize and a £1000 grant, saving "Strings" and allowing me to place "award winning" in front of my job title, which went a long way in getting people to trust in me and the project. As for the equipment, it was all borrowed from a local band who appear in the film towards the end - they had tons of gear for shooting their own music videos, which ended up being almost everything we used to shoot the film. We shot on a Sony Fx1 with a 35mm lens adapter andsome battered old lenses from our parents' SLR cameras.
You received a great deal of praise for 'Strings' when it was shown at the Raindance Film Festival in London, where you were nominated for Best Début Feature. What do you feel you learned from having your film shown at a festival like this?
I think more than anything I learned the importance of having a "hook". "Strings" is far from a high concept film, but very early on in promoting it at festivals like Raindance we realized that by emphasizing how young everyone involved was and our miniscule budget we created a unique hook. As much has been written about the making of the film as the film, which has benefited everyone involved enormously. The conversation then becomes "this guy can make Strings for nothing, what could he do with a bigger budget?" when pitching new projects.
What are your opinions on no/low budget film making in the UK currently? Are there any names that stand out for you?
I think the most inspiring filmmaker in a long while is Gareth Edwards. Like Strings, his micro-budget sci-fi "Monsters" proved how much could be achieved with a limited budget and an innovative mind. I think that he proves that you have to make your own opportunities and is a perfect example of a filmmaker throwing themselves entirely into a first film and it paying off big. I only hope that Godzilla has the same artistry of Monsters and his no-budget shorts.
Where/when is it possible to see 'Strings'?
Strings is being distributed by Vertigo Films later this year, so keep an eye on their Facebook, Twitter and Website for updates!
I am currently developing a coming of age drama and a sci-fi thriller, which should be shooting soon with a budget many times the size of Strings'.
Watch a teaser for Strings below...