An Interview with François Chilot

After all of the excitement of last week’s Young Director Award show, we catch up with CFP-E president and King of the YDA François Chilot to get his impressions of this year’s competition, the diversity of entrants and, ofcourse, the YDA campaign’s hat trick of Lions. Plus some top advice for young directors hoping to stand out!


François at this year’s YDA show

This year the shortlisted/winning films were certainly varied – from traditional commercials through to interactive web films and fashion films. How did that affect the judging process? Did it make it trickier? Or perhaps did it make it more fun and interesting?

The purpose of YDA is to discover talented beginners. There are different categories from classical broadcasted commercials to web films and branded shorts. Some years ago we introduced a rule which is that YDA should not accept films longer than 3 minutes. However, the trend shows us that the word “commercial” today encompasses not just TV advertising but moving image advertising on any screen. The interactive anti-knife crime film was a very good film and its length didn’t prevent it to get a top-prize at YDA and a Gold in the Titanium Lions Category. Personally I appreciate those films which tell a story in an unconventional way.

What was the overall quality of entries like this year? Why was there no special jury prize awarded? What’s the special something you are looking for?

Over the last 12 years, only four special Jury awards were given away. The films which were awarded were good but we didn’t find this year this “something” which could make one of them a Special Jury Award. When we give away this award, the Jury must be unanimously totally convinced that this film stands out and that the director has shown a very particular talent. We are keen to maintain the standard of exceptional excellence associated with the prize.

Which films were your personal favorites?

I like many of them butone of them particularly struck me, mainly because it was – of course –  well done and innovative but also because it shows that we are moving from a conventional 30 seconds on television to the digital era via Internet. Congratulations to Simon Ellis from Mad Cow for his anti-knife crime film.

The YDA Call for Entries campaign did fantastically well at the Cannes Lions – why do you think it was so popular with the juries? what was your reaction when you found out?

The YDA campaigns have been regularly rewarded in Press or Poster Category in different festivals over the last few years. The concept of our campaign “Born to create drama” imagined by TBWA/PHS is fairly new as it came out for the first time last year. I must say that we worked very hard together with our creative team to find an idea and make a film which could be both adapted to television and to Internet. Although I was expecting it, I was happily surprised to see that “Drama Queen” was buzzing. One of the key factors to success is humour. I must also say that I was thrilled by the fact it did so well at the Cannes Lions. Its success illustrates that a very good idea associated with good filmmaking can only lead to a film which stands out.

What advice would you give to any young directors hoping to stand out in a crowded field?

Here are my tips; when you are going to make a film, ask yourself: “Is this a good idea? Can I make a great film out of it?” When you look back on your work, ask yourself “Is this film really going to stand out?”

Beyond those questions, without the inherent desire, hard work, phenomenal talent and a little bit of luck, success is unattainable.

To find out more about the CFP-E, check out the website here, and check out the main YDA website here.

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