An early advocate and pioneer of digital distribution and filmmaking, Liz is a digital film and media expert.
She is the Founder and Director of Power the Pixel http://powertothepixel.com/ an organisation helping international filmmakers, industry, government and festivals make the transition to a cross-media digital age. Its services include consultancy, training and events, as well as information and analysis of the changing international market. PTTP organises the ground-breaking Cross-Media Film Forum during The Times BFI London Film Festival. This event connects the film industry with key innovators of the digital revolution, pioneering new models of storytelling, finance and distribution, in a conference, a think tank and a cross-media project forum called the Pixel Pitch. One of Liz’s clients is the UK Film Council where she is Digital Distribution Strategy Advisor http://ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/
Liz was the Programme Director of Digimart’s Global Digital Distribution Summit, http://www.digimart.org in Montréal, another ground-breaking event that brought together for the first time ever leading filmmakers, innovators and digital pioneers from around the world, who are building new film distribution models.
She is invited regularly to speak at international conferences, film festivals and leading film schools including Berlin, Cannes, Rotterdam, London and Edinburgh Film Festivals, Screen International Conferences and lectured at EAVE, The Media Business School in Ronda, BAFTA, The National Film and Television School, for Skillset, The ICA and The National Film Theatre in London.
She is also the founder of Earthly Delights Films, a production company that develops independent media projects. She is one of the producers of feature film The Trouble With Men and Women which was released in the US through The Independent Film Channel and has launched online animation project and series, Marsipan, http://www.marsipan.co.uk.
Liz set up and ran the UK office for Next Wave Films (a Santa Monica based company of the Independent Film Channel US) from 1998 to 2002. Next Wave Films was a pioneer in the production, finance and sales of ultra low budget features and digital filmmaking. The company helped exceptionally talented filmmakers, from the US and abroad, launch their careers. Their award winning films include Christopher Nolan’s Following (Winner: Tiger Award, Rotterdam ’99, Silver Hitchcock, Dinard ’99), Joe Carnahan’s Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, Kate Davis’ Southern Comfort (Grand Jury Prize, Sundance ’01), David and Laurie Shapiro’s Keep The River On Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale (Special Jury Award, Amsterdam ’00), Amir Bar-Lev’s Fighter (Best Documentary, Karlovy Vary ’00), Josh Aronson’s Sound and Fury (Grand Jury Prize, Sundance ’00, Academy Award nomination ’01).
Mark Cousins is a film writer, director, and curator who was brought up in Belfast. He has since lectured on film history, been published internationally, made a dozen documentaries on arts and political themes, and consulted on film strategy.
Cousins received the Salzgeber Award at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the Spirit of Scotland Award in 2008 and 2009. At the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival he curated the Paradise Movie Hall of Kolkata.
But before all of that…
In 1991 he began a five year collaboration with the Edinburgh International Film Festival. First as a programmer, then as Director – and together with a great team – he reworked the event, scrapping existing programme categories and inventing Scene by Scene, which he later presented and directed on the BBC. Scene by Scene was an attempt to deepen film discussion; Steve Martin, the Coen brothers, Bertolucci, Cronenberg, David Lynch, Robert Towne and many others did Scene by Scenes with Cousins in Edinburgh.
In 1994, Cousins took the Edinburgh Film Festival to Sarajevo, in defiance of the siege. This changed his life. He produced and co-directed Another Journey by Train, which took neo-Nazis to Auschwitz. One of them was imprisoned solely on the evidence of his contribution to the film.
He has presented BBC2’s late night cult movie programme, Moviedrome. He’s interviewed Sean Connery, Jack Lemmon, Steve Martin, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, Jane Russell, Paul Schrader, Brian de Palma, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jonathan Demme, Terence Stamp, Woody Allen, Dennis Hopper, David Lynch, Donald Sutherland, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas, Roman Polanski, Tom Hanks, James Coburn, Jeanne Moreau and Rod Steiger. Kirk Douglas said that his was the best interview he’s given in sixty years. Steven Spielberg phoned Sean Connery to say that Cousins’ interview with him was the best he’d ever done.
In 1995 Cousins co-founded the charity Scottish Kids Are Making Movies (SKAMM), to help talented teenagers to think creatively about film. He was its Chairman until 2007. In 1996 he set up the feature film making company 4Way Pictures with Antonia Bird, Robert Carlyle and – subsequently – Irvine Welsh. Cousins is script editing Welsh’s first original screenplay The Meat Trade and producing Welsh’s adaptation of Alan Warner’s novel The Man Who Walks. In 2004 he also helped establish animator Sylvain Chomet’s Studio Django in Edinburgh.
As for his side lines (!), Cousins has been writing more: a long running column about alternatives to mainstream cinema for Prospect which was published in book form as Watching Real People Elsewhere in October 2008 – Time Out chose it as one of its books of the year; a Lynchean screenplay called Should You Dare to Reach It and another about a man who counts all the trees in Scotland; a series of travel articles about a drive he did from Scotland to India; and regular pieces for the Times, London Evening Standard, Scotland on Sunday, Sight and Sound and the Scotsman.
A more substantial undertaking was his history of world cinema, The Story of Film, which has been published in 10 countries (including America, China, Spain, Mexico, Taiwan and Denmark). The book was acclaimed by Bernardo Bertolucci, Sir Sean Connery and critic David Thomson. The Daily Telegraph called it “an exceptional history…a fiercely intelligent re-mapping of cinema.” The Times reviewer called it by far the best book on cinema he had ever read. The film journal Screen said it was “an extraordinary achievement.”
Cousins was recently asked to be a consultant on Martin Scorsese World Cinema Foundation. He has co-directed a short film with Tilda Swinton and another with the author Irvine Welsh, and is artistic consultant to SoundTrack, a new international festival of Film and Music in Wales.
Cousins’ newest projects are a feature documentary on Ian Hamilton Finlay called Music, Missiles and Muses, and a travel and cinema book called Rupture. He is writing a one-hour TV play, Scotston, about a woman who sings when she’s anxious, and has recently completed filming, in Iraq, the world’s first magic realist feature doc! It is about children, imagination and war, starts with his own childhood in Belfast, and is funded by the UK, Canada, Scotland, Germany, Finland and France. Wim Wenders said he loved it and Ken Russell called it poetry! www.thefirstmovie.net
In August 2008 he and Tilda Swinton co-directed the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams, a hugely acclaimed film event in Nairn that got worldwide media coverage and sold six times as many tickets as budgeted. He and Swinton repeated the experiment in March 2009 in Beijing, and have established the 8 ½ Foundation to help kids discover great movies from around the world. In August 2009, Cousins and Swinton devised A Pilgrimage, an innovative film festival in which they pulled a cinema across Scotland. Again, media and arts coverage was worldwide. www.a-pilgrimage.org.
He needs a holiday in his campervan, in the mountains, under the stars.