Interview with Artistic Director Philip Ilson, London Short Film Festival

The London Short Film Festival, now in its 12th year, is recognised as a premier UK showcase for cutting-edge UK independent film. ASFF was pleased to welcome Philip Ilson, Artistic Director at LSFF, for panel discussion The Changing Face of Short Film at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2014. With LSFF’s new programme international film screenings and events commencing in the capital on 9 January, we catch up with Ilson and hear about his opinion on the value of short film today.

ASFF: Do you have any favourite moments from ASFF 2014?
PI: I enjoy exploring York, as it’s an amazing historical city, and the screenings in multiple venues across the city allow you to see parts of the city you wouldn’t normally visit. I also enjoyed the opening night reception in City Screen, as it gave a chance to meet up with familiar faces from the film industry who were attending and meet new filmmakers whose work was screening in the festival. In fact, the networking and social drinks were good across the festival, and in many ways the strength of the festival is it’s social side, as so many filmmakers attended this year.

ASFF: What is distinctive about short film?
PI: It gives filmmakers a chance to try things out and experiment, and for audiences to see some really original ground-breaking work from new talent. Short films don’t have a remit beyond the vision of the filmmaker, unlike conventional feature film, where they may be made by committee, or go through re-writes and commercial filters to finally get out there. Short film doesn’t need to worry about any of his, and can exist in it’s own right, and this is when audiences can really experience stories and images they won’t forget.

ASFF: How do festivals like ASFF and LSFF help the short film industry?
PI: It’s important for filmmakers to have their work in the public domain, in front of a live audience. Obviously, on-line opportunities can sometimes mean you get to thousands of people, but you will never meet those people face to face, and in many cases, a film can be lost in the mire. Funders and production companies can treat festivals as places to look for new talent, acting as a portal for work.

ASFF: As a panellist for The Changing Face of Short Film, are there any solutions to counter the issues concerning short film’s distribution?
PI: Short films are in a good position right now, as festivals are getting busier, and on-line platforms are growing. But with so many opportunities, sometimes there can be problem of over saturation of short film content, and audiences have too much choice.

ASFF: What do you look for when programming the LSFF festival?
PI: I’m always looking to be suprised. Viewing thousands of shorts a year, this is sometimes difficult, as there are many generic themes and styles, but even I get amazed how every now and then, a film will come along that really amazes me as an original piece of work. Having said that, at LSFF we screen a lot of different types of work, and are happy to show polished work with strong stories alongside more crazy low budget work. But it’s always exciting when something comes along where you go: “Wow, I’ve not seen this before”.

London Short Film Festival runs from 9 – 18 January 2015. For further details, visit

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1. Philip Ilson, London Short Film Festival.