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Interview – Rob Savage – ‘Dawn Of The Deaf’ – A Short Film


Posted July 10, 2017 by

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Interview – Rob Savage

“When a strange sound wipes out the hearing population, a small group of Deaf people must band together to survive”

Watch The Short Film:

Interview, Rob Savage – Filmmaker:

To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Dawn of The Deaf’, what is it about?

Dawn of the Deaf is an apocalyptic horror short, about an infection spread through sound, which leaves only the Deaf community alive. Our aim was to create a genre film that would connect Deaf and hearing audiences in an engaging, thrilling way. As opposed to re-treading the same narratives usually seen when dealing with disability, we wanted to create a tense story in which the characters’ “disability” becomes their ultimate advantage over the hearing population.

Where did the idea come from?

The original idea for Dawn of the Deaf came from the beautiful, fucked up mind of Jed Shepherd who is a good friend and collaborator of mine. He’s always pitching me great ideas and when he mentioned Dawn of the Deaf I knew that I had to make it. I’ve been a big zombie fan for years – since I first watched Night of the Living dead wayyy too young – but hadn’t found the right idea until now, an idea that really shook up the genre.

Lets talk about the cast, who stars in ‘Dawn Of The Deaf’

We had an amazing cast – Caroline Ward plays Sam, an isolated teenage girl with a dark secret, Chris Curran player her father; Stephen Collins (a brilliant and renowned Deaf actor) plays Kevin, a man delivering a hopeful speech at a community event, In the Flesh’s Emily Bevan plays his wife; Radina Drandova & Haley Bishop play two friends having an signed argument in the middle of a bustling city.

There was an incredible team of translators working with us throughout the shoot, which ran just as smoothly as any other shoot I’ve had. I’m generally quite a demonstrative director and we blocked through the lines and movement at the start of the day, allowing us to shoot and reset very quickly once we were up and running. Stephen Collins is an incredible lip reader and so on our one re-shoot day we did not even need to hire a translator.

We’re developing a feature version of the film currently and are committed to it having an all-Deaf cast. 

We first interviewed you in March last year; do you find your answers then remain accurate? Or has the film industry changed your opinions and way of thinking?

Pretty much. I think more than ever its important to pick your projects carefully and know what you want to get out of them – I made Dawn of the Deaf to show what I could do as a genre-filmmaker, having made dramas beforehand. I always assumed that I could do anything I wanted and flip-flop between genres and styles, but I’ve made an effort to consider my “brand” (*shudder*) and make sure that I make smart choices with what I make and how I see my projects taking me to the next level. It sounds cynical, but it’s what I’ve found to be true.

When & where can we expect to see ‘Dawn Of The Deaf’?

Dawn of the Deaf has just launched online as a Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere, which has given the film an amazing boost. Short of the Week ran a simultaneous release and the film’s audience has grown from there. It’s been amazing to see the film take on a life of its own and be shared all around the world – It’s amazing to see glowing reviews coming from every corner of the globe, and kind of mind-blowing when I think about how little we made the film for. 

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

My influences come from all over – I love all kinds of cinema, from Lucio Fulci to Krzysztof Kieslowski, and so it’s hard even for me to spot any direct influence. Normally when I’m making something, I try and watch films that have absolutely nothing to do with the project at hand, otherwise I can’t turn my brain off. If I’m making a thriller I watch a rom-com, if I’m making a sci-fi I watch a musical etc. etc. For Dawn of the Deaf, I started watching Brian DePalma to decompress each day – The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Blowout… I thought they were the opposite of what I was making, and yet somehow DePalma found his way into the film – the Gods-Eye- View shots, the unbroken steadicam shots, the Ballroom turned bloodbath…

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

The idea has always been to make Dawn of the Deaf as a feature film. We were pitching the idea before we’d even conceived the short, and had always been met with the same response: hearing audiences are never going to want to watch Deaf characters on screen. We’ve always been insistent that the Dawn of the Deaf feature will have an all-Deaf cast, and one of the main reasons for making the short film was to demonstrate how engaging this can be for any audience. For a Deaf audience, we hope that the film will provide a new and exciting representation that is squarely aimed at mainstream crossover.

The feature isn’t exactly a continuation of the short, although a few of the characters and scenarios will reappear in one way or another. It’s going to be a lean, visceral genre film that allows audiences to gain insight into an underrepresented group of people – all while being scared shitless.

I’m also developing a number of other features, including a monster movie that’s been developed through BFI & BBC and is being billed as “a fucked-up Amblin movie”. I’ve just written and directed my first episode of TV – a horror-drama about a true British haunting that will be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK around Halloween.


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