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ÉCU-The European Independent Film Festival

ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival is dedicated to the discovery and advancement of the very best independent films from around the world. We are a festival who believes in our independent filmmakers and their artistic talents. ÉCU proudly provides a unique platform that brings together diverse audiences who are hungry for something other than major studio productions and original and innovative filmmakers. 

The 16th edition of ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival will take place on 9th-11th April 2021. Now open for submissions!




For more details regarding the festival, please visit our website at




ÉCU Alumni: Interview with James McAleer

1. Your film is about insects in a post-apocalyptic world – where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration usually starts from character or history, something
visually striking or profound, and I build a story from there, but in
the case of ‘Invertebrate’, it was a flash of inspiration under

I was in a pitch meeting with the local branch of the now defunct UK
Film council (Northern Film & Media- thankfully NFM are still here)
where I had been asked to provide several film ideas for their annual
short film scheme. They didn’t like any of my pitches, but still seemed
keen to work with me, and they asked me if I had anything else- I made
up the concept of ‘Invertebrate’ on the spot- and they said yes! (The
enormity of what I had let myself in for hit later)

To be fair, some of the ideas behind the film I had been playing with
for years. I am a Director of Photography, and I had always wanted to
shoot miniatures, -a whole film comprised of practical special effects. I
didn’t even want to use compositing tools, so the characters in the
film had to be small too, hence the insects.

I knew that I would have to film hundreds of hours to be able to
build a story around the natural behavior of the insects, and that
became the real challenge, -to create a narrative and to
anthropomorphise the insects, to give them drama that we can empathise
with, from the 19TB of footage I shot in the months of filming.

The ‘Post-apocalyptic’ element came from experimenting with different
aesthetics during the pre production- I didn’t want to make a film that
could be misconstrued as documentary, so I asked the questions, ‘what
would look the coolest in miniature? How can I explain why we have 6’
mantises in New York?’

2. If the end of the world was coming like in your film, what would you do with your last 24 hours?


If I knew it was coming? I’d like to think that I would set up a
human defense league against our insect overlords, knowing their
weaknesses, and lack of cognitive strategies. However their instinctive
organisation against us would probably mean they would farm us like
aphids, humanity doomed until the robot uprising that would surely come
I’d probably hole up with my family in a bunker, and make a documentary in the meantime though…

3. What’s happened to Invertebrate since April 2011? We hear it’s in contention for a BAFTA?!

Yes it is- no need to get excited yet though. Right now, it’s
eligible so BAFTA members can vote for the film, but there’s a long way
to go yet! The long list will be announced in December, so if we’re on
that list, we’ve done incredibly well.
It will be interesting to see how BAFTA respond to the film- so far it
has been successful in North and South America, in Europe and Eastern
countries, but our UK premier won’t be happening until January 2012, and
that’s not through lack of trying!

4. What got you started in filmmaking in the first place?

I started out first studying then trying to make a living out of fine
art- I would spend sometimes weeks on a painting, until I discovered
the immediacy of creating photographic images that would tell the story I
was trying to communicate instantly, literally painting with light. I
decided then that Filmmaking was truly what I wanted to do.
I went back to the beginning, and gained experience by first making cups
of tea on various sets, then slowly worked my way up through the camera
department, all the while making my own personal projects.

5. What are your plans for the future? You’ve recently been
linked to “Interview with a Hitman” and “The Man Inside”, can you tell
us a bit about these projects?

I still consider myself a Director of Photography first, -the films
I’ve produced, written and directed have been almost by accident-
projects I would like to see made, or get off the ground (So I could
shoot them!).
Both “The Man Inside” and “Interview With A Hitman” were projects set to
shoot in London with a producer I’m working with on another feature
film I’m producing next year. I made it possible for him to bring the
films up to the North East of England, where it’s very film friendly. I
provided some of the crew, facilities and contacts, and acted as 2nd
Unit DoP and main unit focus puller on the films. Both will be released in cinemas next year.


6. Have you got any plans to write and direct another film, like you did with “Inverterbate”? What can we expect?

Absolutely! Next year I’m booked to be the DoP on three feature
films, which will keep me very busy, but I’m always developing new
films. I hope to get a feature film financed by the end of next year
that I’ve written and will direct, called ‘Blackstone’- it’s a
completely different genre to Invertebrate, (It will have real actors!)
–a period piece concerning the advent of technology on a community of
industrial workers.
You can expect it to be a little left field of course… I’ll keep you in the loop!

7. How did you find out about ÉCU in the first place?

ÉCU was the first film festival I applied for with Invertebrate. With
my withoutabox account newly set up, I looked for festivals that
firstly appealed to me as a filmmaker, and that would hopefully embrace
the kind of film I had made. The ÉCU seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

8. What was it like to have your film screened at ÉCU?

The ÉCU more than lived up to my expectations, -not only was I
greeted by a team of friendly enthusiastic people, filmmakers, audience
and staff, I was made to feel welcome, and part of their family. They
have championed my film internationally, and much of the success the
film has had, I think I can attribute to their tireless efforts. A
wonderful experience!

9. Finally, what would you say to anyone thinking of submitting to ÉCU?

Just do it! What have you got to lose? You can be assured that the
ÉCU team has your best interests at heart, a festival created for the
right reasons. As Scott Hillier is fond of saying, to be a filmmaker is
brave- to lay it all out and have others judge you on it is braver
still. Do something you can be proud of today.

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About ÉCU-The European Independent Film Festival

Hillier Scott



Scott Hillier, Founder and President of ÉCU - The European Independent Film Festival
Scott Hillier is a director, cinematographer, and screenwriter, based in Paris, France. In the last 20 years, Hillier has gained international recognition from his strong and incredible cinematography, editing, writing, producing and directing portfolio in both the television and film industries.  
Scott began his career in the television industry in Australia. In 1988, he moved to London getting a job with the BBC who then set him to Baghdad. This opportunity led him to 10 years of traveling around world for the BBC, mainly in war zones like Somalia, Bosnia, Tchetcheynia, Kashmir, and Lebanon. After a near fatal encounter with a Russian bomber in Tchechnyia, Hillier gave up his war coverage and began in a new direction. 

He moved to New York City in 1998.  He directed and photographed eight one-hour documentaries for National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. Based on his war knowledge and experience, Hillier wrote and directed a short film titled, “Behind the Eyes of War!" The film was awarded “Best Short Dramatic Film” at the New York Independent Film and TV Festival in 1999. From that he served as Supervising Producer and Director for the critically acclaimed CBS 42 part reality series, "The Bravest” in 2002 and wrote and directed a stage play called, "Deadman’s Mai l," which ran at Le Théâtre du Moulin de la Galette in Paris during the summer of 2004. He then became the Director of Photography on a documentary titled, “Twin Towers." This was yet another life changing experience for Hillier. The riveting documentary won an Academy Award for "Best Documentary Short Subject" in 2003. In 2004, Hillier changed continents again, spending three months in Ethiopia. He produced “Worlds Apart,” a pilot for ABC America / True Entertainment / Endemol. As you can see, Hillier was and is always in constant movement and enjoys working in a number of diverse creative areas including documentaries, music videos, commercials, feature and short films.

Scott studied film at New York University and The London Film and Television School. He also studied literary non-fiction writing at Columbia University. Hillier's regular clients include the BBC, Microsoft, ABC, PBS and National Geographic. Between filming assignments, he used to teach film, a Masters Degree course in Screenwriting at the Eicar International Film School in Paris, France and journalism at the Formation des Journalistes Français in Paris, France. 




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