Producer Gill Holland Revitalizes Independent Film, Changes the Game for Music Licensing

Gill Holland gets things done. People toss around the term “independent producer,” but this industry veteran has produced over 100 films, including Ana Asensio’s Most Beautiful Island, which won 2017’s SXSW Grand Jury Award. Gill’s record label, sonaBLAST!, is thriving with over 60 million streams on Spotify and Pandora, and his artists are placing songs directly into his films, as well as into this summer’s hipster hit, The Big Sick, and loads of television series. Plus — something you don’t hear every day about movie and music producers — Gill is one of the world’s foremost sustainable developers, greening the Bluegrass State of Kentucky.

Mr. Holland’s opus covers considerable history, and considerable ground: 15 years ago in New York, he launched sonaBLAST! — then 11 years ago he and his wife, urban planner Augusta Brown, moved to her native Louisville, where they and their team have been remarkably prolific. I ask about his latest offering, director Harris Doran’s Beauty Mark — which just won the Breakout Performance award for actress Auden Thornton at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival. Gill promptly gets cultural, and historical:

“That was filmed in the Portland neighborhood, which got flooded during the Great Flood of 1937, then again in 1945, and suffered about eight decades of disinvestment. It’s a part of town we’re trying to help revitalize. Very historic. Henry Clay, the great Kentucky statesman, actually owned most of Portland. He won it in a poker match! Abraham Lincoln worked on the Portland Canal as a teenager. We shot the movie in that neighborhood, with a lot of local talent, behind the scenes and in front of the camera.”

Gill Holland in NuLu

Since Beauty Mark, with its wrenching socio-economic issues, may prove relatable to many, and significant to many more, I ask the film’s executive producer about its origins.

“The woman whose story — it’s loosely based on actress/co-producer Ashley Kate Adams’ personal history — is…

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