Seth Savoy makes his feature directing debut with Echo Boomers, a propulsive crime thriller set in Chicago that features Patrick Schwarzenegger, Alex Pettyfer, and Michael Shannon. Savoy will forever be in my good graces as he was understanding and accomodating after I could not conduct our first interview. More importantly, he had a ton of insightful things to say about his filmmaking journey with Echo Boomers.
Lance Zutterland (Patrick Schwarzenegger) is a recent college grad who visits his cousin Jack (Gilles Geary, delivering scene stealing work) in Chicago for a prospective job. Racked with debt, Lance may never get his finances straight by working at an art gallery, so he puts his artistic instincts to use by joining Jack’s criminal outfit. Michael Shannon is Mel, elder statesman who gives the crew a cut of the items they steal from rich homes, with Alex Pettyfer playing the gang’s testy ringleader Ellis.
This stylized heist thriller is an engaging watch through and through, and Schwarzenegger is more than up to the task to play the lead. Echo Boomers hits theaters, digital and On Demand November 13, and it signals the emergence of Seth Savoy, a filmmaker whose distinct point of view should place him in good stead.
I’m going to turn 50 next year, so I definitely appreciated your casting of Lesley Ann Warren. That was a genius creative decision.
I’m going to be honest with you. This is going to show my age too. Originally I didn’t know who she was and when we started the casting process, our producer team showed her to me. I heard about how she was, at one point in time, just this icon. Once I started looking into her work, I was (thinking) ‘Oh my goodness, please let me get Lesley.’
And Lesley read it, and it’s pretty crazy, within 24 hours she was on set.
Oh that’s amazing.
Yeah and she was just an unbelievably kind soul and an unbelievable actor. She was one of those actors that when you called action, (she had) this ‘x factor’ she turned on. It was just something special.
Speaking of “X Factor,” a lot of filmmakers talk about production value, and I’m assuming having Michael Shannon in your film really placed your movie on a different level.
One hundred percent. What’s pretty crazy about it too is like I was always taught that casting is 80% of directing. I never really understood that until Michael Shannon got on set. Once Michael got on set, you realize when you’re working with (a master). Michael has done this probably 150 times and this is my first film.
I had a ton to learn from him. But you start to realize that they are doing the sculpting for you – those masters are. From a director’s aspect, you really are calling “action” and calling “cut” because they have done their homework and they really do bring everyone to another level. The moment Michael showed up on set, all these younger actors knew they had to step it up. And they did.
Echo Boomers seems to be a film that should have been a director’s third or fourth film considering its ambition. Did you have a go big or go home mentality when approaching your movie?
I knew the moment we got Michael on board, we had this decision to make. Do we go with that typical biggest millennial actor in Hollywood movie, or do we find these actors that were the next Michael Shannons? I would rather work with an actor that I love as an artist than just the next big star.
If we do it that way, it gives you more flexibility in your shooting schedule. You can have more locations and you can have more set ups. So it seemed like a no-brainer for me.
Speaking of no brainer, Patrick brings a lot to the table as your lead. What did you see in him as far as carrying your film?
It was. And he was the last one we actually cast too. I felt like Patrick hadn’t been given a shot. He had Midnight Sun and then Daniel Isn’t Real is kind of what put him on people’s maps. But nothing to like go head to head with Michael Shannon and I feel like it was rolling the dice on him.
But there’s something about Patrick when you meet him. He is just ridiculously smart and he is in tune with this millennial kind of zeitgeist. And it worked. I think he killed it. The superhero world is going to sweep him up in a heartbeat.
When filmmakers ask you advice on how you were able to make a high end production with an indie budget, what are some of the insights you dole out?
Finding investors is one of the hardest things. It’s easier to raise $200 million for a superhero movie than it is to raise $3 million for a movie like ours. The one thing that I got to say is two things that come into play is how many times you can get knocked down and keep on getting up. You’re going to get told ‘No’ – I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve gotten told no. ‘This movie is not going to work.’ ‘You’re never going to make it.’ ‘It’s just not going to happen.’
It’s the get back up and keep pushing mentality that gets it made.
Can you talk about Chicago and what makes it a unique place as far as making art?
It’s hard to put it into words. I know from a filmmaking aspect it is truly an untapped market. It’s not like New York where you’re such a small fish in a big pond. It’s not LA where it’s so overly tapped that it’s dry. A majority of my investors were just guys who had never done it before and honestly never been asked to invest in a film. If you live in LA, that’s just unheard of.
In Chicago, that was a normal thing and we have a massive tax credit and the film commission is great there. And there is this underbelly of, you know, Steve Carell started there. Chris Farley started there. All of the playwrights. There is something electric about the creatives in the city and they support each other. It’s truly beautiful.
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To the actors and actresses who took this wild journey with me – Thank You. Thank you for being patient with me and trusting that the vision was real. Y’all helped me grow in this crazy art form and for that I’m grateful. • This film is going to knock your socks off…. In theaters and on demand Nov 13th 2020. Trailer in bio. • #echoboomers #echoboomersmovie #patrickschwarzenneger #alexpettyfer #gillesgeary #hayleylaw #michealshannon #olivercooper #independentfilm #indie #arri #director #comingsoon2020
I checked out your instagram feed and you love to travel. Does that passion feed your filmmaking instincts?
For sure. The best way to put it is I find stories through living in the moment. If I’m at home, it’s harder to live in the moment because you’re at the same place, you’re doing the same thing every day.
The moment you leave your house and really leave your city it becomes this crazy adventure of, “What do I want to do right now, take the left road or the right road?” I don’t know where either of them goes. You find stories that way too which kind of becomes a part of your work.
This movie does have its share of politics interwoven into your narrative, but in a subtle fashion.
I really wanted to be this film that people, at first glance, thought it was a fun and flashy movie. But in reality, once they’re on that drive home from the theater, they’re like “Wait there were a ton of political messages it there.” And I think we did a good job of it being than being too on the nose.
Can you talk about one of your favorite movies and why does it still speak to you?
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash and Spike Jonze’s Her are the two films I can watch any day of the week just because they encapsulate something. Whiplash encapsulates an obsession to be the best and Her encapsulates falling in love with someone who isn’t real. Those are the movies that get to me are these things that really encapsulates a feeling.
And hopefully I did that with Echo Boomers. I tried to capture this feeling of millennial frustration and angst.
If you could look at your future, where would you like to see yourself five or ten years down the road?
Original content is something that every viewer asks for. I’d love to be a part of a studio movie as long as it was original. I don’t know if I’m all about pumping out films just for the fun of it. I’m about finding really good quality stories.
When someone hears Seth Savoy came out with a new movie, I want them to associate that with ‘This is going to be an unbelievable story.’
Seth I really enjoyed your film and continued success!
Talk soon Greg. Let’s talk on the next one. This was fun.
Echo Boomers hits theatres, Digital and On Demand November 13.