INTERVIEW WITH… SCOTT HILLIER OF ÉCU INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL
Not so far away from our Festival Formula HQ, is ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival, happening in Paris every April. We managed to grab some time with founder and Président of the festival, Scott Hillier, whilst they prepare for the next edition. Submissions are open now with their earlybird deadline happening 23rd November 2015.
Tell us a bit about your job, and what you do…
My name is Scott Hillier and I’m the founder and Président of ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival. My job is to ensure that we continue screening the best indie films from around the World – and to do this we search high and low, reaching out to indie filmmakers from all over the planet via social media, our attendance at other festivals and by exposure through our partnerships with over 50 festivals. I have a great staff and most of the time I’m just trying to control their uninhibited, crazy creativity.
April next year sees the 10th ÉCU happening in Paris. What should we expect from the festival for the next edition?
We are a filmmakers festival and have been so since we started 10 years ago. We are indie so it’s we say ‘We don’t have red carpets nor limousines – we are wall-to-wall festival” because we know that without great filmmakers bringing great films and having a great festival experience you aren’t going to have a great festival. And we’ve had 9 great festivals and feel that the 10th is going to raise the bar a notch.
We’re pleased to see you have an Arab Section for people to submit to. How important do you feel it is to curate films from areas that people may not have experienced before?
We love telling stories and feel that the Arab middle-east is an area where a lot of things are happening but that their cinematic stories don’t get enough exposure and we want to help get those stories audiences.
The festival attracts a strong industry presence, as well as the audience and the filmmakers attending. It sounds like it’s a good mix of work and pleasure! Why should filmmakers submit to ÉCU?
We work day and night and most weekends to discover, project and promote the best indie films from around the World and during the festival weekend it is a melting pot of creative filmmaking talent mixing directly with their audiences and then interacting with other filmmakers from places that they would never get the chance to visit. In addition ÉCU is not just a three day event in Paris every April because after the festival is finished we take our award-winning films on a global tour which gives the filmmakers opportunities to screen in over 20 countries around the world. It’s a lot of bang for their bucks and is something that is pretty unique to the film festival circuit.
What’s your advice to someone who gets a rejection from a festival?
I’m an indie filmmaker myself and won some cool awards, I have also been rejected many times from festivals that I thought would be a good fit for my films. DON’T GIVE UP – if it was an easy ride everybody would be an indie filmmaker, right? Making a film is really bloody hard, getting it accepted into festivals is bloody hard but as filmmakers with stories to tell we have already fought hard, been told we are stupid, told that it would be impossible to make a film etc. If your film is good, it will get into festivals – just keep on going.
Tell us the best and worst part of your job.
The best bit of my job is that I get to look at the best indie filmmaking talent from around the globe every day – the worst bit is seeing some films that are sooo great that I’ll never be able to make :)
Share with us one of your favourite films and tell us why you like it…
I grew up as a documentary maker and feel that the best stories are real ones and the documentary Cavedigger which won Best Non-European Documentary at ÉCU 2013 (and went on to be nominated for an Oscar in the same category that a film I’d shot ‘Twin Towers’ won the Oscar in in 2003) was a truly incredible piece of cinema. I loved it!
Thanks so much to Scott for taking the time to speak to Festival Formula, the programme for the next festival looks really exciting. Do check out ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival website for more information on the upcoming edition, and for submission info.
Scott Hillier is an Australian Director / Cinematographer / Screenwriter /Producer based in Paris. He has gained international recognition from his strong cinematography, editing, writing producing and directing portfolio and served as Director of Photography on the documentary ‘Twin Towers’ which won an Academy Award in 2003. He is also founder and President of The European Independent Film Festival.
Scott spent 10 years travelling the world for BBC News and Current Affairs, mainly in war zones and has worked in over 50 countries. He was Director of Production at Image Group Entertainment, NYC and has directed and photographed documentaries for National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, SKY TV, France 3, PBS, Channel 4 UK and served as Supervising Producer / Director for the critically acclaimed CBS forty-two part television series ‘The Bravest’. He has also directed films for Christian Dior, David Garcia, Microsoft and Coca Cola.
Scott studied film at New York University and The London Film and Television School as well as literary non-fiction writing at Columbia University. He has taught a Masters Degree course in Screenwriting as well as journalism at the Centre de Formation des Journaliste (CFJ) in Paris.
In addition to serving as President of The European Independent Film Festival he is also Chief Creative Officer for the Zs2 Media Group in Paris.