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ÉCU Film Festival | 2019
Savvas Stavrou


European Music Video


Two wrestlers in love, and the toxic masculinity that tears them apart.

Hi Savvas thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?

It’s going great, thank you for having me!

How does it feel to having your music video Submission part of this years ÉCU Film Festival?

Such an honour. The ECU is quite selective with their competition and it’s a small number of films every year, so definitely feel quite privileged to be part of it this year.

Are there any nerves ahead of the screening?

The film hasn’t really been screened to a big audience yet, so I’m quite excited to see the response! Especially on the big screen. It’s quite a visceral film, especially the climax, and it’ll be interesting to see how the audience reacts to that.

Can you tell me a little bit about Submission how did this music video come about?

The brief for ‘Submission’ came to me around this time last year through Forever Pictures. I had been working in production with the leading lady Sasha Nixon there for a while and she thought I might be a good fit to pitch to direct it. The brief was quite in-depth and it touched upon a few things that resonate with me in regards to masculinity and desire, so the idea kind of naturally just flowed out of me.

When did you first meet The Irrepressibles?

I haven’t actually met The Irrepressible! We spoke on the phone quite a bit during the making of the film, but unfortunately, haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet - soon, I hope! Jamie Irrepressible is such a fantastic creative and guiding force. He really trusted me with this piece, and I’m very grateful for that.

What was it about their music that interested you so much?

The first time I ever came across The Irrepressibles was when I was 18 years old and I saw a film using their track ‘In This Shirt’ which touched me deeply. There’s something about humanity in the vocals and the way the music builds to a crescendo that hits you straight to the heart and allows you to think and feel outside your usual context.


Where did the concept for this music video come from?

The brief was quite clear on the magnetism that can occur between two men. There was a discussion about the power and physicality of man, the strength, danger and conflict in surrendering to being loved by another man. The letting down of the guard as well as the insecurities that can damage our means to love and to be loved. For me, it was quite clear that the film had to deal with the opposing sides of masculinity - the aggression vs sensitivity - and I visualised this in the two colours blue and red. As our two wrestlers bond, they jump between the extremes of violence and intimacy - not only fighting with each other but also with their emotions. Also, what better way to explore masculinity than through the world of wrestling?

What was the most challenging part of bringing Submission to life? 

The most challenging part was to make it happen on such a tight budget! This is usually the case with many music videos and films of course, but here it was particularly small - a mere £3000. We absolutely couldn’t have done it without the wonderful help and support of many people who dedicated their time and professionalism to the project.

What was the most valuable lesson you've taken from making this?

For me, it was to be able to feel a bit more fluid and present in the moment. Letting go of the film you wanted to make, the film you’ve been planning in your head for the past few weeks, and just seeing the elements with you in that space, on that set, in that moment, and being able to explore them to their fullest.

Have you always been interested in filmmaking?

Ever since I was 8 years old and I used to sneak away with my dad’s video camera making films with my cousins and friends. 

SUBMISSION (FINAL).00_00_09_21.Still033.

What drives your creativity?

Emotion, mostly. I’ll latch on to a feeling and try and understand where it’s coming from and why. And then see if there’s a way to explore it visually - and mostly, if I can recreate it so that an audience can feel it too.

"The journey is long, difficult, and testing."

What was the first film you were part of?

The first film I ever made was a short horror film with my sister and a close friend of ours when we were 8 years old. It involved puppets, masks and Nutella. I genuinely don’t think anyone should ever see this film!

How has your approach to your films changed since your debut short?

My (proper) debut short I made when I was 19 and it was a musical shot in Cyprus. It was highly ambitious and I feel I wasn’t aware of what was or wasn’t possible production-wise. Since then, I understand the process better and I’m able to hone in on ideas before jumping in to shoot them, ensuring the development process has had enough time.

What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?

“You have to find the Andrew to your Michael”. For a few years, I worked as the assistant to the director Michael Winterbottom and his producer Andrew Eaton. These two had worked so closely on so many films over the years and grew as filmmakers together. They became successful together through a genuine understanding of each other’s work and the need to make the same kind of films. 


When I finished working for them, I met with Michael Elliott who advised me that the best thing to do as a director is to find that main collaborator/producer. It sure does take a while - and I am still looking!

Now you can be reflective do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Persevere. The journey is long, difficult, and testing. Stay strong and focus on what you want to say. In the end, filmmaking is a little like a bug. You either have it, or you don’t. And despite everything, you will carry on making films because it is inside you and you can’t imagine your life otherwise.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently developing my first feature that was one of 8 projects selected at the Sundance Mediterranean Screenwriters Lab last year, and polishing a script for a new short film - to hopefully shoot this year!

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?

I hope they enjoy the thrill, the emotion of it all, and gain a little insight into what it feels to be a man torn in half by love and desire.

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