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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




Interview with filmmakers, Benjamin and Christopher Blaine

This month we’ve been chatting to brothers, Ben and Chris Blaine – two self-taught filmmakers who have learnt their craft by mistakes, flukes and a lot of hard work. They own the production company Charlie Productions and their impressive portfolio of films include the BAFTA shortlisted Russell Square and award-winning Hallo Panda. The pair is also heavily involved in Shooting People – the international networking organisation dedicated to the support and promotion of independent filmmaking. Here’s an insight into their story:

So how did it all begin?

Chris: “We first got into filmmaking when we in our late teens at school. We bought a mini-DV camera and created an animation about a parody of the bible. We made a little bit of money from it by putting it onto VHS and selling it to our classmates – something that got us into a lot of trouble with our teachers but made us think that filmmaking was really fun and easy.”

Ben: “We then started to make short films together, we had no film education so learnt through trial and error. We set up Charlie Productions and submitted our most successful work to film festivals – our first break being at Edinburgh Film Festival in 1997, which screened our short film Crowd Scene For Existentialists. We were really pleased with the reception it received and it gave us the confidence to continue working in the field. We then bought a Canon XL1 and G4, and made Russell Square about an adventure on London’s Underground. It was shortlisted at the BAFTAs in 2000 under Best Short Film which was very exciting.”

How have you developed your filmmaking since then?

Chris: “We realised that our strengths lied with story telling and humour but that our films needed to appear more professional. We decided to take our time on each project, start using high definition, and work with more people – a producer and crew. One of our first films working to this ethic was Free Speech; working with the wonderful DoP, Oliver Russell and actors, Danny Dyer and Jacqueline Oceane.”

Ben: “Since it was launched in the late 1990s, we’ve also been heavily involved in Shooting People which is a fantastic networking/information sharing tool for filmmakers. It wasn’t set up as merely as a means for filmmakers to showcase their films. Instead the primary aim was to enable filmmakers to talk to one another and it has been so useful for people like me and Chris to connect with industry people we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to have access to. For example, through it we met producer Barrington Paul Robinson who we started working with on Free Speech.”

Ben you attended ECU earlier this year – what did you think of the festival?

Ben: “I wasn’t too familiar with ECU before so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but it really surprised me, it was a great festival. There was some fantastic talent there – I saw some top quality films and met filmmakers who I’m still in touch with now. G-Technology as platinum sponsors of ECU also surprised me. I wanted to be cynical but when the team started talking about the hard drives, I took a genuine interest. They spoke with such honesty – ‘yes, they are fundamentally just hard drives but look at how ours’ can really enhance your work’. They are so passionate about the products and supporting the filmmaking industry.”

Are you noticing any other new developments in the tools filmmakers are using?

Chris: “Some affordable, really effective tools that we love to use in our work include Mpeg Streamclip, which is a powerful free video converter for Mac and Windows. We also use Scrivener to write and develop our feature films – it’s very flexible and extraordinarily powerful for a program that only costs 25 quid.”

How do you work together so successfully as a duo?

Ben: “We write and direct together. To make that work, we have to do a ton of preparation. Because having properly shared and explored an idea between the pair of us, it is much easier to share it again with our cast and crew – and then with the audience. On set, we work in a loose, free, creative and enjoyable way, so that both cast and crew transfer the joy they experience each day onto the screen. Everyone owns these films, including the fans. Our films are films you share, not just watch.”

Click here to read Ben’s brilliant blog on Shooting People.


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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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