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VIFF 2017 Interview: BULLROARER director Francesco Saviano

by Jason Whyte

"A young man leaves behind the distractions of city life and takes a trip to a remote cabin. After settling in for the night, he discovers that something ominous may be lurking close by." Director Francesco Saviano on BULLROARER which screens at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?

This will be my first time attending the VIFF! I have been in films as an actor that have shown at the festival, but was unable to make the screenings.

Great to have you here! Tell me a bit about yourself and your background, and how you got into the whole filmmaking business.

I graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in film production and then moved to New York City for an internship with the producers Sarah Green and Maggie Renzi. I began to study acting around this time at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute with two teachers who had a big impact on my life, Irma Sandrey and Mauricio Bustamante and also started writing, directing and acting in plays and independent films. I was fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful filmmakers and creative people, many of whom are still my close friends and collaborators today. About five years ago, after years of working as a freelancer in the film business, I decided to start my own production company, Unarmed Media. The company concentrates on narrative film as well as documentary and commercial projects.

So how did BULLROARER come together for you?

The film started off as a camera test for a feature script I wrote. I was with Marika Hacking, the DP and producer on the film, at a cabin in upstate New York. We started experimenting by shooting some footage, swapping out different lenses, trying different camera moves that we thought would work well for the feature material; we were having so much fun that we decided to shoot a short film based on the feature, without a script, that we would improvise straight through. We were excited by what we shot and shared the project back in Brooklyn with our close friend and collaborator, composer David Cieri. We have been fortunate to work with David on many projects over the years, and after discussing the film with him in detail, the three of us came up with a plan for finishing it. Working with Marika and David on the post production for this project, bringing it to life in the editing room with David's score and sound design, was a great experience for all of us.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you, creatively? How much coffee?

When I first started working in the film industry, I felt I had to choose one role to concentrate on, either just being a director or a writer. Over time I realized that I love too many parts of the process to just do one. For me what keeps me going is the excitement and energy that comes from working on all aspects of filmmaking; producing and directing a project, working with all of the talented and hard working people needed to create a film, the post production process, even sometimes getting in front of the camera as an actor. I'm fortunate to be doing what I love every time I make a movie.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and how did you overcome it?

Probably the biggest challenge was not having a script for the short film version of the feature. Once we embraced the improvisational nature of what we were making though and just concentrated on the themes we wanted to focus on, the process became much easier.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

I would have to say being with my wife at the cabin. The opportunity to get away from all of the craziness of New York City and just have the opportunity to be creative with her and relax together was really special.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film!

Marika Hacking is one of the most talented filmmakers I know. She is also an illustrator and an editor and has an incredible eye for detail as well as an understanding of cameras and the best ways to use them to tell a story. There were certain things I wanted for the piece, such as shooting in an anamorphic aspect ratio, but as this project was a creative adventure for both of us, I was excited to hear and embrace her ideas on where to put the camera and how to use it to tell the story.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie to audiences here at VIFF?

I will be traveling to Vancouver with Marika and David Cieri. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the festival with the both of them. We set out to make this film together and to have the opportunity to be at such a great festival together and meet the other filmmakers and see their work is a real thrill for us.

Where is this movie going to show next?

The film will next screen at the St. Louis International Film Festival!

If you could show your movie in any theater in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Probably the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn. It is very close to where we live in Brooklyn and is one of our favorite places to go to see films. I have a lot of respect for the work they show there and for BAM as a cultural institution.

Movie theaters are the best place to see a movie, but sometimes they can be distracting! What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

Oye. Talking or texting during anyones' film is a pet peeve of mine for sure. I like to think I would ask them in a nice way to stop what they are doing and respect the audience and the person who made the film. Sometimes it might not come out so nice though.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews for inspiration. If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

I would give the advice, just keep trying your best every day and follow your voice. Filmmaking and the arts are one of the hardest fields in my opinion, but I have found if you just stick with it and have confidence in what you're doing; even though that can be really tough sometimes, you will keep moving forward and growing as an artist and a person.

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

Wow, this might be the hardest question of them all. The first year of the Tribeca Film Festival I saw a screening of ON THE WATERFRONT. I was pretty amazed by that film, especially seeing it on the big screen.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 28th to October 13th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 10/07/17 01:51:31
last updated: 10/07/17 01:53:45
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