One Millennial Filmmaker Raised $400,000 to Attend 22 Music Festivals and Counting
Tony Savino has already created two full-length documentaries about music festival culture in the U.S. and Europe. Today, he heads to South America for part three of his project that captures the spirit of live music, the artist perspective, and his own story of risk and reward.
In the summer of 2011, just as the now massively popular music festival scene was entering mainstream territory, nine friends piled into a 1973 Greyhound bus in San Diego. Cameras in hand, the crew of 20something filmmakers set off on the road trip of a lifetime. City by city, they arrived at 11 music festivals across three months. From Coachella to Bonnaroo to Burning Man, the crew captured the free-spirited, no-rules, gritty adult-playground culture of music & art fests. They also filmed dozens of artist interviews and accidentally uncovered their own coming-of-age story. The result was a documentary called The Festifull Summer.
The film was the brain child of Tony Savino, who hit the road again in summer 2015 to capture music festival culture in Europe. Between the two documentary film projects, he has raised more than $400,000, attended 22 music festivals and has traveled more than 20,000 miles. His third project begins today, when Savino and a team of four will make their way to South America to capture Lollapalooza’s debut in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Santiago, Chile.
We sat down with the 28-year-old music business grad to talk about life on the music fest circuit, and the grind, hustle and payoff of what’s quite possibly the coolest job in the world.
What was your motivation for creating “The Festifull Summer” and then “Hello” in Europe? It seems like a great way to party with your friends all summer, but was there something more to it?
It all started with my love for live music. I truly believe the live music experience is something special and personal. Whether you’re surrounded by 10 people or 10,000 people, everyone is in their own world and inside their own minds. For me, it’s a meditation. It’s my escape. It’s where I think and brainstorm and come up with my best creative ideas. After completing the first film, my passion for filmmaking was born. That passion brought me to Europe to explore the festival culture over there, because I’d heard it was on a whole different level.
So was it?
Most definitely! You’ll see that come across in the footage we have.
What was life on the bus / van like? Did you all generally get along?
Life on the road is wild. It definitely has its ups and downs, and it’s not for everyone. Personally, I love it. My favorite part might be the gas station stops. They’re all so unique and have their own character. Inside the bus, everyone generally got along, but there are definitely times when you just want and need your own space. We all had a strong mutual respect for each other, so we can tell when those sentiments are in the air. But all and all, it was amazing. We’re a family.
What was the #1 reaction from people when they found out what you guys were doing?
People were shocked, at first, and then they’d smile and ask to come with us! I wish we could have brought everyone, but there just wasn’t enough room. Generally, everyone was very happy for us and excited to live vicariously through our adventure. We made a lot of amazing lifelong friends, and now we have connections all over the world.
Source: Tony Savino
It can’t be all fun and games! What are the logistical challenges — the grind — of making films like this on a tight budget?
The way I explain this is that it’s not a vacation. We have to show up and execute. We have to lift the camera and capture everything at the right moment, because the great shots are fleeting. There’s no going back and no retakes. On the business side, we woke up every day and spent at least two hours sending emails, following up and starting new conversations. It’s a long process, but all worth it when you meet fans, industry professionals, and artists face-to-face and everyone is excited about what you’re doing.
How did you make it all work? Did you already have the connections at the festivals or did you have to hustle to get things lined up?
During The Festifull Summer in the U.S, we just showed up and made everything happen in the moment. It was exhilarating. In Europe, we still had to make it happen on a whim, but we were a little more prepared. I received my graduate degree in Global Entertainment and Music Business from the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain and a few of my teachers worked at the festivals, so we had some connections. Besides that, we built a website and made a trailer and just reached out to the festivals and artists. I’m happy to say everyone welcomed us with open arms. We landed press passes to 9 of the 11 festivals and ended up getting over 50 interviews with festival directors, industry professionals, and big name artists such as Florence + the Machine, Tame Impala, Alt-J, Tyler the Creator, Ratatat, and so many more.
What’s the payoff? Why is it all worth it?
The payoff is the amazing feeling of making it happen against all odds. It all comes back to standing there at a show and thinking about all we accomplished. Knowing that with hard work, we did it and did it well. Once again, we do it for the music and for the adventure of course. We love music festivals and we got to see more concerts in one summer than some people see in a lifetime. We definitely don’t take that for granted. It’s been special, and it’s changed our lives forever. Time for the next one!
The “Festifull Summer” is currently being screened at select film festivals around the country. Tony and his team are in the post-production phase of “Hello Europe.”
Teresa Bigelow is a pro communicator, writer and digital media entrepreneur based between New York and California. As co-founder & CXXO of Trep Life, she aims to empower and inspire the next generation of hustlers through conscious storytelling and The Intrepid Feminine. You can get in touch with her at [email protected]