Q&A with Tony Savino, Director of ‘Hello’ Documentary
Camera in hand, Tony Savino is shooting a documentary about Europe’s music culture.
Born and raised in Chicago, Tony Savino knew that he wanted to pursue a life in music from a young age. After studying international business at San Diego State University, Savino’s fascination with live music and the concert experience led him straight to Berklee’c campus in Valencia. "Berklee's new programs in Spain have to be among the best international music education in the world," he said. His love for travel and music helped him fit right in with his diverse classmates in Valencia, where he received his master’s degree in global entertainment and music business with the campus’ inaugural class of 2013.
Today, Savino works hard to help produce the annual Mustache Bash, a 70s funk party held every March in sunny San Diego, where he has spent most of the last decade. When he's not planning for the bash, he's pursuing his new passion for film, which has brought him to the old continent this summer on an amazing adventure shooting Hello, a documentary about Europe’s music culture.
Why did you decide to study global entertainment and music business at Berklee’s Valencia campus?
My ultimate life dream is to open up my own music venue. After realizing this, I decided it would be a good idea to go to graduate school to study the music business, where I could become more knowledgeable about the industry and gain the credibility of having the degree. This, in turn, would better help me raise capital for my venue one day. Towards the end of my time as an undergraduate studying international business, I started researching graduate programs and stumbled upon Berklee's new program in Valencia. With my love for travel and music, I knew the Global Entertainment and Music Business graduate program was a perfect fit for me.
What opportunities did you have, being in Berklee’s Valencia campus, that you may not have had otherwise?
Berklee gave me the opportunity to work with other students from all corners of the world on a daily basis. In the three graduate programs on campus [at the time], there were 76 students from 27 different countries. This international melting pot really challenged all of us to step out of our comfort zones and learn in new ways. I don't think there is any other classroom where a student can experience this kind of collaboration, and if there is, sign me up!!
What led you to decide to produce Hello, and how is the experience being so far?
In the summer of 2011, I produced my first feature-length documentary about music festival culture in the United States. It was an amazing experience and the project ignited my passion for filmmaking. Naturally, the next step was to come to Europe and make a film about the European music festival culture; it's on a whole different level. The project has been incredible thus far, working out better than we would have ever imagined. We've been working hard and landing interviews with some world-class artists including Florence + the Machine; Tyler, the Creator; and Ratatat. We've also had the opportunity to interview numerous festival directors and industry professionals. The best part about it all is that everyone is very excited about what we're doing. Their positive feedback feels great and inspires us to work hard to make the best film we can.
When is the expected release date, and what is your plan for the documentary?
The goal is to complete the project and submit it to film festivals by September 2016. With that being said, the realistic release date probably won't be until the spring of 2017. Our plan is, and always has been, to make the best film possible, highlighting how these European music festivals impact the surrounding cities, cultures, politics, and people. We hope to submit it to numerous film festivals and obtain an international distribution deal so the whole world can see how there is something very important happening within and around the music festival culture.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your work as a documentary director, and how did Berklee prepare you for it?
To be honest, I am very new to directing documentaries and I have a lot to learn. It all started with an idea, and the passion to pursue that idea to make it a reality. Once I realized that, I decided I wanted to focus on music-related documentary projects as my own specific niche. My studies at Berklee informed me and gave me the tools necessary for the behind-the-scenes business that goes into creating a documentary. When you start to make a film, there's so much more going on than just telling a story. The business behind the project includes working with artists and management, creating branding, marketing, and social media campaigns, and figuring out music licensing, which means working with record labels, publishers, and lawyers. My Berklee curriculum taught me a lot about all of this, and gave me the confidence to execute all of this on a professional level.
Why would you tell other students to come to Berklee’s Valencia campus to study global entertainment and music business?
If you like to travel, enjoy meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and of course have a serious love for music and passion for the entertainment industry, Berklee is the place for you. The energy around campus that comes from the diverse group of students and faculty is outstanding. It is a very special place, and if you have the opportunity to study there, do it and make the most of it.