By: Markos Papadatos, Senior Editor
Director, writer, producer, and actor Tommy Savas chatted with HNA’s Markos Papadatos about his film “My Dad’s Diner,” which debuted at the 2023 Manhattan Film Festival.
“This was a story about my family, I felt like it was the perfect project to be my first to direct,” he said. “My understanding of the story and characters was so much deeper due to my personal connections with them so it allowed me to really tell the story in an authentic way.”
Savas opened up about his Greek heritage. “My Greek-Cypriot heritage is something I am very proud of,” he said. “My grandfather left his in Cyprus by himself when he was just 14 years old to immigrate to NY in the 1920s. He had to lie about his age when he came through Ellis Island to be allowed into the country.”
“Like most immigrants at the time he worked his ass off doing any job he could, sending the money back to his family in Cyprus. That was until he was able to open his first Diner in 1946; The Ditmars Restaurant in Astoria Queens. He later opened three more diners in Queens. He’s credited by some as being the godfather of Greek diners. So, when people hear I’m Greek Cypriot and ask the stereotypical question “Does your family have diners” it hits a little different,” he elaborated.
On being a filmmaker in the digital age, now with streaming and technology being so prevalent, Savas said, “On one hand, I find it presents way more opportunities, but at the same time I feel that it has swayed the industry into becoming too much of a content factory causing some of the quality of work to suffer.
He noted that he uses technology in so many ways as part of his daily routine. “I love the apps on your phone that allow you to choose the lens type you want to use for a shot and frame it out on your phone to help with camera set ups,” he said.
On his future plans, he remarked, “Coming off of the success of my Short, I was given the opportunity to direct my first feature film this summer. A horror. It’s gonna be bananas.”
For young and aspiring filmmakers, he said, “Surround yourself with other artists and stay away from a**holes.”
On his definition of the word success, he explained, “Being able to make a living as an artist.”
Savas concluded about the film, “So many iconic movies take place with these diners as their backdrop. I wanted to tell the story of the people that made those backdrops, and show how rich and full their lives were and are.”
To learn more about actor and filmmaker Tommy Savas, follow him on Instagram.