17 May Scriptwriter of the Month: Savvas Stavrou
Savvas Stavrou is Cypriot director currently residing in London, who recently wrapped his short film BUFFER ZONE. The film is a musical about two gay soldiers across enemy lines who bond and fall in love through their mutual taste in music. The film has been funded by the British Film Institute and it should be ready for festivals by the end of the year.
To find out a bit more on what Savvas is working on, check his MTSW profile here, and to find how he thinks, check out his answers to our eight favorite questions.
• What makes the 5 films on your Top 5 list so special?
In some ways, those 5 films push the envelope of what cinema is. In a populist and also an art-house way, they utilize cinematic devices to their fullest and innovate, while also retaining their strong foothold on the story. They are all also highly emotionally charged, which is something I personally respond to, and of course, all use music in intelligent and captivating ways.
• Why did you decide to go into film?
Actually, I can’t remember a time when I haven’t wanted to make films. Since being a child, I was obsessed with using my dad’s camcorder and shooting stuff with my family and friends. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known, really. Does that make it a decision?
• Commercial films or art house?
My feeling is that the best films have a good balance of both. It’s not so much about the film’s success, but more so about who your audience is. And a film that is able to be commercially viable and attract mainstream audiences, while also retaining art house sensibilities is probably a win-win.
• How and when did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing from a very young age. It started off with short stories at school. I loved letting my imagination roam free and come up with ridiculously elaborate scenarios to put down on paper. In my head, I saw these come to life in my head as little movies, and it was only much later on that I realized there was a craft for that and it’s called screenwriting.
• Where do you like to write the most?
Writing is such a difficult thing to describe. Sometimes my office space (which is actually in my tiny London bedroom) works brilliantly. Otherwise, I feel it too oppressive and I need to write at cafe’s or co-working spaces where I’m able to feed off the buzz. But I actually adore leaving London when I do decide to write and taking time off to go and live in another city, and I mix up the experience of living somewhere new with taking a couple of months there to write, which usually inspires me.
• What kind of music do you listen to while writing?
Anything from electronica, to Nils Frahm, to film soundtracks. Trent Reznor is a usual suspect on my playlists and so is Thomas Newman. It also depends on what I’m writing. For example, if I’m writing a musical, I tend to just listen to music that best resembles the tone of the scene, and then it’s easier for me to write it out as I can imagine it manifest visually.
• Where do ideas come from?
This is such an odd question! I’m actually not sure. Life experience maybe? For example, emotions usually dominate my ideas. If I feel really strongly about something, the idea pops up like a light bulb and so unexpectedly but it totally makes sense. I was meant to shoot a short film last year, but due to the pandemic and various lockdowns, we had to postpone. In my processing of all this, I instantly got an idea about another film that I wrote down and I’m hoping to shoot later this year.
• If you could go anywhere in space and time, where would that be?
I’d go to the past, I wouldn’t go to the future. Maybe the 80s. New York. And experience what contemporary Bohemia was like alongside the cohorts of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Either that or Paris in the 1800s.