REEL WOMEN: Parker Hill, Director of Tomorrow

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory”

Parker Hill’s emergence into the ad world has been nothing short of extraordinary: she launched with a spirited ESPN campaign in 2019, and ended the year shooting for Ford.

An NYU Film School grad, Parker displays an affinity for the beautifully flawed, deeply nostalgic texture of analog photography has earned her a passionate following. Parker’s thesis film, One Good Pitch, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and Parker’s poignant documentary, Sanderson to Bracketville, was a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Parker is currently in post production on her first feature-length film Cusp: set in a small Texas town, four wild-spirited teenage girls navigate early adulthood as they each confront their own history of sexual assault. Here is some of Parker’s work:

Let’s meet Parker!

What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up? A film director. I don’t have some interesting story for this one. I’ve just always wanted to do this.

How Did You Get into Film? I went to film school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. There I wrote and produced a few short films, and directed my thesis, One Good Pitch, which premiered at Tribeca in 2016.  After school I wanted to direct more but I basically had no body of work except for my 4-min thesis.

Someone got me really into film photography and I got really into taking pictures, like obsessed. This really helped me, emotionally at least, start to build a body of work under me that I felt reflected my voice. So I started using photography to inspire my motion picture work, that lead to my making a couple of films, a narrative short, a short doc, and some fashion films. 

A lot of this self generated short content helped get me representation commercially and here we are… 

Who Were Your Mentors? I’ve had several along the way, and I’m sure more will come.  All of my mentors have been for kind of different aspects of my work.  Andrew Wonder is one that comes to mind, he’s a director and co-founder of the company I’m repped by, Tomorrow, and he has really taken me under his wing and shown me the inside scoop on directing commercials, all the way from the pitch process, to being on set, through delivering the product. 

Another mentor has been a cinematographer I’ve worked with a lot, Luca Del Puppo.  When I first started taking pictures, he really helped me push myself and work through creative ruts as I tried to find and define my visual voice.

ALSO READ: On the Backlot with filmmaker Dana Richie

Name Your Biggest Achievement I feel like I haven’t had it yet. To date, I guess it would be getting my undergrad thesis film into Tribeca, that made me immensely proud. I also recently wrapped photography on my first feature documentary, and that feels like an accomplishment I’m never going to forget.

Biggest Disappointment Not getting everything I make into Sundance. I’m kidding. No honestly I haven’t had major disappointments yet in my career. Sure there are projects you pitch on that you think might come your way and then don’t, but I feel like I’m still just getting started. I’ve been working hard to get where I am, I’m grateful for the opportunities that have come my way, and I haven’t had doors slammed in my face…yet. 

Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves One of my biggest pet peeves is the whole concept of saying ‘let’s fix it in post’, especially if that becomes a rationale for not getting it right on the shoot. As a director, you’re constantly aware of when everyone else in the room wants to move on, but it’s also ultimately your responsibility to know whether you truly have it in the can or not. So let’s get it right right now if we can.

I also really dislike hot lunches on set. They slow me down!

Predictions for Film over the Next Decade Predictions are hard. I guess I hope that really good content still rises to the top.  And that people stop talking about how kids have short attention spans and just make really good work. I hope theatrical releases don’t disappear. OK these are just hopes. I don’t have predictions

Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People I was a camp counselor. I went to summer camp and then worked there for years after. I feel like if you don’t know me very well you might not think I could be that spirited, decked out in face paint for color wars. If you know me, you’d camp is a HUGE part of my life. 

ALSO READ: Nicole “Nikki” Laughlin, President, Havas Chicago

Which Marvel or DC Superhero do You Get to Play? Not sure. I’d want to be Matilda! She’s not in those movies. I’m not a superhero movie person.  

What do You Wish You had More Time for? Read books.

Do You Talk to Yourself? ALL THE TIME. My first name is Clara, I talk to myself as Clara. We have great conversations.

What Inspires You to be Creative? Photography. I’ll discover a series or a photographer’s book and I’ll do a deep dive into their work. It makes me want to go out and shoot. I guess being on the road inspires me a lot too. I love road trips. Frankly I’m born and raised in New York and never make things here. I’m inspired when I’m not here, When I’m in Texas, or the desert, or just not New York.

Follow Parker:

Instagram: @tmrwpeople, @parkerchill