“How do you turn creativity into a business?” wonders “Hannah Takes the Stairs” producer Anish Savjani, chatting with indieWIRE at the Cornelia Street Cafe in downtown Manhattan as the film screens around the corner at the IFC Center on opening night. Emerging films and filmmaking are in the spotlight during IFC Center’s “New Talkies: Generation DIY” series, casting a spotlight on emerging filmmakers like “Hannah” director Joe Swanberg and “Quiet City” director Aaron Katz, but behind the scenes a new generation of film producers are also starting to make a mark, including Austin-based Savjani.
“I’m not afraid to do these micro-budget films,” explains Savjani, an Austin-based producer in his mid-twenties who raised under $100,000 to make “Hannah.” It was shot last summer while Savjani was in Europe on another production, Spencer Parsons‘ “ I’ll Come Running.” The producer, who got his start in the business as a DGA trainee, highlights his experiences working with friends Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy on Steve Collins‘ “Gretchen” and Kelly Reichardt‘s “Old Joy,” saying he’d love to work with them again on the right project. But, it was his experience working for Scott Rudin that he says was most significant, calling Rudin an inspiration on his Savjani’s work as a producer noting in a follow-up email, “I really just admire his taste, he certainly has an eye for it.”
Now, through his own company Film Science, he hopes to foster a “family of filmmakers” that he can work with over the longterm. To that end, Savjani is currently producing Kelly Reichardt’s next film, “Train Choir” with Neil Kopp (it wrapped production last week) and also Joe Swanberg’s next movie, “Nights and Weekends.” He is hoping that the recent attention for “Hannah” will enable them set up more projects together. “This is not just about ‘Hannah’, it’s about Joe, it’s about the next project.”
Savjani, who is also gearing up for Geoff Marslett‘s rotoscope animation film “Mars” and Scott Rice‘s comedy “Gopal Gets It,” written by Kerem Sanga, is not just developing and producing movies, but eventually hoping to position Film Science to handle digital distribution. “Models are shifting,” Savjani enthusiastically told indieWIRE, pondering new ways of marketing and distributing work through outlets like B-Side and Apple’s iTunes.
“It would be foolish to say I am [only] in the feature film business,” Savjani related, noting that today there are opportunities to make movies that will be available via numerous platforms. “We are in the content business,” Savjani said, before heading back to the IFC Center to greet friends who were waiting to see the movie. And later, clarifying the point, he emphasized, “There will be a need for more content as more devices have the ability to support it.”