Ten Minute Film School E10: Gill Holland on MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND

Movies Audio
Share Tweet Submit Pin

When Most Beautiful Island, the film he executive produced (having worked for years to get it made) won the Grand Jury Award at SXSW, Gill Holland wasn't celebrating. He was home in Louisville, asleep in bed. "I have kids," he laughs, "and I had to get back."

But then again, Holland's life as an independent film producer has never been conventional. He started out working at a law firm in Paris. He eventually developed one of the hottest production houses in New York City, and proceeded to move it to Louisville. And when he got tired of licensing music from record labels, he just started his own.

“Yeah, fifteen years ago I started a (music) label," he remembers, "because I was so frustrated licensing music for movies. I kept saying, these band should be paying me to put their music into my movies, because they’re getting so much exposure.”

One of the artists he got involved with early was Mark Geary. “I had this mixtape cassette," he says, "with The Frames on one side and Mark Geary on the other side. And it got stuck in the tape recorder – this was 2001 or 2000. And then one day my helper comes in and says, ‘That guy Mark Geary is playing the Mercury Lounge!’ So I take the whole office down to see what I thought was this Irish pop star, and it turns out it’s Irish Mark, the bartender at Botanica, which is the bar I’d been going to four nights a week in the old Knitting Factory space. There were two bartenders, Scottish Mark and Irish Mark.”

As for aspiring filmmakers today, Holland has some very matter-of-fact advice. “You had to shoot on film back in the day; you had to have an expensive camera," he muses. "Today, there is no barrier to entry at all. If you say you’re a filmmaker, you should be able to show me some movies. Literally, where are they? Sean Baker shot Tangerine on a iPhone. If you’re a filmmaker, where are your movies?”

Listen to the interview at the link above, and be sure to check out sonaBLAST! Records here.