Creative Arts Faculty Tim Savage Makes Filmic History
By Eliot Grasso, Ph.D., Creative Arts Director
The continental premiere of a new faculty film brought world-renowned film-makers, producers, and authors to the NHCC campus on October 9 and 10, 2014. The masterminds behind the film, director Tim Savage, producers Mardi Savage and Dana Hankins, and author Graham Salisbury, have invested a decade of collaboration to transform Salisbury’s award-winning book, Under the Blood Red Sun, into a full-length motion picture. Salisbury’s novel, a compelling story of a Japanese teenager faced with the disintegration of his family and world after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, has won dozens of awards, and stands as part of the schooling curriculum across the United States. The faculty at New Hope had the honor of seeing these figures mentor our students.
As a long-standing member of the Creative Arts faculty, Tim Savage brings a wealth of knowledge to the College. Since the beginning, he has been speaking into the creative development and maturation of Creative Arts majors who come from all over the world to refine their skills in film, music, dance, drama and technology. On Thursday, October 9, Tim met with two classes to share his knowledge and expertise. One of the critical morsels that Tim offered to New Hope students was that artists need to persevere, and to strive for excellence (reminding undergraduates that, as Pastor Wayne Cordeiro would say, “Life will give you what you settle for”). Students were astonished to find out that the finished film came together only after two attempts to raise millions to fund the project, in addition to an extended search for the right Japanese 13-year-old boy to play the lead role.
Tim also spoke to the critical role that new technologies have played in the completion and distribution of the film. According to this director, it would have cost $1,000 an hour a decade ago to edit the film. Thanks to advances in technology and to the developments of new applications, those same kinds of editing processes can be done more cost effectively.
Mardi Savage, Tim’s wife and casting director, explained to New Hope acting students that it is important to bring one’s best to any audition. Her comforting words that the casting director is there to get the best from auditions were balanced with the logistical reality that a director is going to decide in mere seconds whether or not an actor or actress is well-suited to the part.
The key insight to Mardi’s discussion is that making a good first impression is critical for any artist. She explained that even if an actor or actress walks away from an audition without a call back, casting directors keep candidates in mind for viable future roles and opportunities. The perfect role may be just around the corner.
Over one hundred enthusiastic faculty, students, and community members flooded in for the premiere of Under the Blood Red Sun on October 10. Thanks to Churchill High School’s generous loan of the space, and Anderson Group International’s loan of superior sound and video equipment, guests were treated to two hours of filmic art and artist insight.
The film is exquisitely crafted, with a beautifully nuanced approach to the combination of soundtrack and imagetrack. One poignant instance of this came as the film’s protagonist, Tomi, swims across the harbor under cover of darkness to visit his father in one of the Japanese concentration camps. In this instance, the soundtrack by Chris Sanders amplifies the intensity of this powerful moment as a young boy, who has just left his home with his mother unaware, struggles to confirm that his father is surviving. A concluding cascade of applause confirmed the film’s success.
Tim Savage and Graham Salisbury indulged the audience in a lively Q&A afterward, during which the audience learned that the film is to be released on DVD and Blu-ray for the Christmas season in concert with an energetic marketing campaign.
The film is available for download here:http://www.underthebloodredsun.com/
As if the staggering achievements of our faculty and guests were not enough, their humble, teacher’s hearts reminded our community that process and character are just as important as outcomes. It is not merely the product that makes an event of artistic and historic significance—it is the manner in which it is offered that does so.