Shining a light on the stars of tomorrow
Partners in the Young Director Award since 1999, shots has long promoted new directing talent. But we want to pay tribute to an old hand in the star-spotting game, YDA president, Francois Chilot. Danny Edwards hears why he’s so proud of the award’s past and so hopeful for its future.
The Young Director Award is an event close to shots’ heart. We’ve been a partner since its inception in 1999, helping to spread its good news among our international audience – though the tenacity and sheer enthusiasm for promoting and nurturing new talent of YDA president Francois Chilot would have made it a success even without our help.
Many of you reading this will have attended a YDA ceremony during Cannes Lions week, and will know the important role it plays in shining a spotlight on an array of talented young directors from across the globe. Over the years, luminaries such as Kosai Sekine, Aleksander Bach, Hanna Maria Heidrich, Andreas Roth, Josh Cole, Ben Liam Jones and, most famously, Ringan Ledwidge, have all been garlanded at the awards. This impressive list is a testament both to the talent that’s out there and the YDA’s ability to find it.
There are, of course, numerous international award shows and festivals, many of which recognise and reward new directing talent but, says Chilot, the element of the YDA of which he is most proud is the fact that it is the only event which is created, led and awarded by producers – the people, he says, whose purpose is to find and nurture new talent.
"[Ridley] had a vision that from commercials you could move to features – have feet planted in both camps and still be successful.”
As for his own heroes, Chilot names the Scott brothers, Ridley and Tony, as particular inspirations. “As a young producer at TBWA in Paris, I worked with Ridley. He was already a great talent, climbing the commercials ladder. Then in 1977 he decided to make his debut feature, The Duellists, blazing a trail for other directors who wanted to combine advertising work with features. It was brave to move from one camp to the other, at a time when not many people were doing so. He had a vision that from commercials you could move to features – have feet planted in both camps and still be successful.”
Nearly 20 years on from the first YDA, Chilot is still as dedicated to the event as ever, though he realises it needs to move with the times. Two years ago he introduced, along with Sir John Hegarty, a new category – Changing the World Frame by Frame. Chilot believes that directors need to embrace longer-form films and create interesting, informative and entertaining work that has a social conscience. More of today’s directors should be aware of the opportunities that advertising now allows, with brands more open to longer form content than ever before: “The doors to the entertainment industry are open.”