Hilari Scarl, director/producer
Hilari Scarl is an award-winning director who was selected out of 12,000 filmmakers by Steven Spielberg to appear on his show On the Lot (2007), where she was heralded by directors including Garry Marshall, Carrie Fisher and Jon Avnet as one of best up-and-coming filmmakers in the country and received a first-look deal at DreamWorks.
The show galvanized Hilari to direct/produce See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary. The film received rave reviews including the New York Times Critics’ Pick, several festival awards and a DVD/digital distribution deal with New Video and Netflix. The film was distributed theatrically by Hilari's company Worldplay, Inc. and screened in 154 cities in 15 countries, earning a spot as one of the top 350 grossing documentaries of all time. Hilari secured Sprint to sponsor the music video of the film's title song, and directed the music video which now runs before the film at every theatrical screening. See What I'm Saying has enjoyed success with the studios, screening for employees at DreamWorks, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Imagineers; Disney was inspired to create a special weekend event around the film at Downtown Disney called "SIGNin' in the Street" with ABC Family's Switched at Birth.
Hilari's interest in the deaf community began in 1992 when she started working in deaf theatre in New York, and was cast as a voicing actor with the Tony Award winning National Theatre of the Deaf. She spent a year on the road touring with An Italian Straw Hat with an ensemble of 17 deaf actors that inspired See What I’m Saying. Hilari is fluent in sign language, a proud community partner with the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD) and advocates casting deaf actors in mainstream roles.
Prior to directing her first feature, Hilari produced/directed 12 short films in three years that won film festivals, were broadcast on television and sold to distributors. She also worked as a television producer for shows on CBS, The History Channel, TLC and Court TV, and has served as a panelist/speaker for Women in Film, UCLA, Peter Broderick and several film festivals. She was one of nine participants accepted into the Producers Guild of America's Power of Diversity Workshop in 2012, and developed a one-hour TV drama that is now in development.
Now that the shiny credits are up top, here’s the real scoop:
Hilari found her acting roots at a young age in Chicago when she was accepted into the Academy for Performing Arts High School, and went on to work as a professional actress in Atlanta while finishing college and earning her B.A. in theater from University of Georgia and Georgia State University. She received a scholarship to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York and has appeared in over 75 theater productions, including starring as the lead in Mary Rogers’ Freaky Friday in a two-year national tour and Theatreworks, USA’s production of Jekyll and Hyde where she performed in fabulous theaters including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kennedy Center and the Promenade Theater (Off Broadway) in New York. Hilari also worked as a playwright, winning the Heideman Award for her short play Cozenage that was performed at the Actors Theater of Louisville.
Between acting jobs, Hilari performed in and directed several sketch and comedy improvisation groups, performing at prestigious places (The Improv) and odd places (a moving train, Austin’s Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival and a Mensa Convention.) During her summers off, Hilari performed as a singing wench and a fire-eater at the Atlanta and New York Renaissance Festivals, which became the subject of The Girl From Nowhere, a much-acclaimed solo show produced in Los Angeles. I swear I am not making this up.
In college, Hilari founded a successful youth theater program called the Young Players Ensemble that went on to produce several shows in Atlanta, New York, Maine, Northern Ireland and Los Angeles. Several of Hilari’s students have went on to professional careers, including Liz Feldman who won an Emmy for writing on Ellen and Sara Paxton who played the lead in Aquamarine. The Young Players Ensemble created original multimedia theater productions with young people from different cultures, and became the subject of her first documentary Northern Ireland Now. More can be found about the program on the Young Players Ensemble page on this site.
Hilari segued to film in 1996 after moving to Los Angeles, working as an assistant to Clark Peterson (Monster) where she managed to snag a special effects cameo role in Wes Craven’s Wishmaster. Her rarely talked about yet essential-to her-development assistant work includes working with Academy Award nominated actor Djimon Hounsou, legal work for MGM Studios and for Bon Jovi’s attorney. Even though her acting work in Los Angeles earned her several voice over jobs, a Jack in the Box commercial and a banking commercial directed by Academy Award winner Errol Morris, she moved behind the scenes to work on The Real World and O-Town before moving up as a TV producer.
Hilari currently lives in Burbank, CA, enjoys biking away from traffic and has completed two triathlons to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is an avid dog lover and the happy owner of a spunky Jack Russell girl named Charlie. Hilari is occasionally inspired to bake whimsical desserts including melty snowman cookies, duck shaped delights and the famous purse cake. While waiting for the oven timer and wondering what Charlie is up to, she’s attached to direct an upcoming feature comedy and has several other television and film scripts in development with her production company Worldplay, Inc.
HILARI SCARL FILMOGRAPHY as director
Safe (Educational short film about preventing HIV/AIDS) 2011