Fiona Gillies is a film producer with Scoop Films, an actress and the mother of 2 teenage boys. As well as her focus on the business of making movies, she also works extensively as an actress on stage and screen.
She executive produced ‘Dummy’, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson before both producing and starring in ‘City Slacker’ with Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Tom Conti.
Her latest work as a producer is ‘The Beat Beneath My Feet’ (above) in which Luke Perry plays a washed up Rock God (release dates coming soon).
Describe a typical day for you?
When Scoop Films are in production I’m the last one to bed and the first one up. We’re an independent production company and don’t have the vast resources of a studio behind us in terms of money and staff. The advantage is we have more control which I love because I’m very much a hands on, creative producer.
The downside is that during the shoot I’m on call 24 hours a day, existing on adrenalin and coffee while my family life goes down the pan. When we’re not filming things are much calmer. I’m generally up by 6.30, getting my 2 teenage boys up and out of the house for school. I generally walk the boys to the station with our dog, (which I particularly enjoy) and then kick off properly at 9.30 when I meet up with my partners Raj Sharma and Michael Mueller.
We don’t have a typical day, new experiences hit me all the time. When you run a film company a lot of time is taken up with business admin. What I really enjoy is developing scripts and the whole pre-production process. We come up with the ideas, Michael writes the scripts and the 3 of us produce.
When we have meetings in town (I live in London) I like to have Lunch at Bruno’s in Soho. It’s a very unpretentious place full of interesting and dubious looking characters as well as the odd film and media person.
You can have anything from a Full English all-day breakfast to fresh pasta and salad. I always try to have supper at home, at the table with the whole family.
Mealtimes are very lively – we catch up on everyone’s day, joke, argue and debate. Evenings I generaly watch a movie online, read scripts, catch up with the world news – as a film maker you have to know what’s going on.
I try and get to bed by 10.30 but it can be a bit of a hassle getting the boys off the computers. We have a rule whereby all mobile devices are left outside their bedrooms which they consider draconian but I think it’s the only way to ensure they get a good night’s sleep. Weekends, I try and make family time.
I also have a new hobby – an allotment where I grow vegetables. Digging, planting and nurturing my little plants is a wonderful way to get fresh air, exercise and de-stress.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
My boys, my films and my ability to throw accurately, which being in a largely male environment (I have a husband, a dad, a brother, 2 son’s and 2 nephews) is much admired.
I’m proud of all my work but particularly “City Slacker”, currently screening on Sky movies, which is about a high powered business woman who searches for an unambitious young slacker to get her pregnant and then stay at home to bring up the baby. She intends to forge ahead with her career but it all falls apart pretty quickly before she comes to realise that family, friends and love are the most important things in life.
Although it’s a romantic comedy, it address some pretty important issues – fertility, aging, workplace discrimination, father/daughter relationships – and I’ve been surprised at how many men as well as women, have connected with it.
What’s in your handbag/satchel etc?
Scoop notebook, phone, charger, sunglasses, eye drops, dog biscuits, a couple of shells, a heavy purse that’s continually empty despite trips to the ATM and some oddly addictive gluten-free snacks….
What are your ambitions in life?
I’m continually searching for balance, I love my work and I love my family. The trick in life is to find a job that you really enjoy, stick at it and be passionate about it. For me, I’d like to make a film that audiences really connect with, really enjoy and walk away from the screen with it in their hearts as well as their minds.
What advice would you give your pre baby self that you now know having had children?
Don’t worry. Children are flexible and resilient. Be honest with them at all times. I always wanted to have kids who would grow up to be questioning adults who made their own decisions, it’s great idea in theory but not so great when you’re arguing with a 15 year old who questions all your decisions!
I think the most important thing is Love, they need to know that you will always be there if they need you.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
The boys will be at University or working.. At the moment one wants to be a pilot and other to pursue a career in music. My hope for them is that they lucky enough to do something they enjoy.
My work with Scoop Films will be growing. Our latest ‘The Beat Beneath my Feet’ – starring the wonderful Luke Perry will have been shown around the world. And we’ll have produced more entertaining films with stimulating stories. We’re currently developing 4 completely different projects all with compelling stories.
What advice would you give a budding producer?
Find yourself a story that you really want to tell. With City Slacker, the idea of an older woman who wants a child but doesn’t want to give up her work/identity, really appealed to me.
And with The Beat Beneath my Feet, I was hugely attracted to the central theme of a teenage boy trying to follow his dreams.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. Doors slam all the time however, somewhere the right people are waiting for you, you just have to find them. The key is the project, if you believe in it, other people eventually will too. I’m a fan of the old Facebook motto…what would I do if I wasn’t afraid? The answer is Go For It.
Finally, happiness is…
Family and friends round the table for a big meal, followed by a walk along a golden beach in the Highlands of Scotland called Camusdarrich.(It was where Burt Lancaster landed by helicopter in the film ‘Local Hero’) Also, I’d like live music, a bit of stand up comedy and a beautiful sunset. And cake….obviously
See more about Scoop Films HERE.