Interview: John Beaton Hill – The Wolves Of Savin Hill

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Interview: John Beaton Hill – The Wolves Of Savin Hill

Wolves of Savin Hill is not a werewolf movie – far from it. Rather it’s a look at real monsters, those who populate our own streets. John Beaton Hill, director of the film, tells us about his new crime drama. 

For those who haven’t yet seen the film, who are the Wolves? What characteristics do you have to embody to be one of the Wolves?

The wolves are archetypes in some ways. It’s the embodiment, as you said, of a way of thinking, a sociopathology, or an energy. Hope that’s not vague. A wolf is a predator first. Everything else comes behind that. The killer is a wolf in that regard. Nothing matters to him but the fulfilment of his own narcissistic drives. But both of the main characters in the story are wolves in the sense that they were born in a moment in the woods, on a particular winter day, if that makes sense. They both made a decision to avoid a trap. They were formed, and so they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives trying to atone for [in one character] or evade [in another] that day, that event. They did something as kids that they must confront as adults.

And where is Savin Hill?

It is a section in the City of Boston. Near Dorchester.

Have you crossed paths with characters like these before, or were you simply interested in doing a film like those you grew up with?

No. Absolutely not… My neighborhood was thankfully free of sociopaths. I grew up in Milton. A suburb of Boston… I honestly couldn’t think of a better place to grow up.  I think any of my friends would have made a different decision than these characters… I believe I’ve crossed paths in my adult life with people like this, people who would do anything to not be seen for what they really are. I am drawn to characters such as this… The films I grew up with often contained characters and situations like in “The Wolves of Savin Hill”.

Looking at the movie, De Palma and Cimino seem to be obvious influences. Can you talk about some of your personal influences – film or filmmaker – on Wolves of Savin Hill? 

The primary influences were John Boorman’s “Point Blank” [1967] starring Lee Marvin and Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” [1973]. William Friedkin’s “ French Connection” was also a major influence. All of Friedkin’s films were. “To Live and die in L.A.” was a big influence. The editing style [the fragmented time and shifts in geography] is reminiscent of Soderbergh’s “The Limey,” [1999]. Sean [editor/producer] and I in the editing phase also turned on to the films of Jean Pierre Melville, a French director and a master of the gangster genre. He was a major influence. So was Cassavetes, of course. But yes, you got it. That was the influence. The greatest decade in the history of American film. The 70s. 

Was financing already in place before you signed some of the bigger names – like Kurt Fuller – or did financing come as a result of having them attached?

Kurt came in as a favor to me because he’s that kind of person and because he liked the material. That was a gift. But we basically adjusted as we went along in terms of financing.

What kind of calls did you get after winning the Chris Brinker award at the San Diego International Film Festival? Did it boost the profile of the film and your own?

We received lots of calls with regard to newer festivals [upcoming], distribution [foreign and domestic] and writing. It’s been nice to connect with producers and distributors who are looking for projects, since we have many ready to go. I have a film entitled “Killing Jane Doe” that I’m trying to get funded for and it’s looking pretty good right now. And I also signed with new representation that I am know will make a big impact on my career. 

Would you like to show the film at more festivals, given the good reception it got in San Diego?

Oh, yes.  We’re awaiting responses right now from several festivals, including Santa Barbara, Newport, Slamdance and others.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.



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