Inside Out’s executive director Scott Ferguson has announced he’s stepping down after 15 years on the job. In the wake of the news, Daily Xtra caught up with Ferguson to chat about the decision to pack his bags, what’s next and what advice he’d offer to his successor.
Daily Xtra: I know you’ve been pondering jumping ship for a while now. What finally convinced you to take the leap?
Scott Ferguson: I’d been thinking about leaving at various points in the past few years. I had a five-year plan when I got the job, but that went out the window. I began thinking seriously again about leaving last year as we started planning for our 25th anniversary. It was going to be a chance to reflect on our history and how the organization has grown and more importantly a chance to talk about its future. It seemed like the right time to ask myself what’s next. Through that process, I felt really proud of what had been accomplished during my tenure and excited by the thought of someone new coming in and bringing their ideas and a fresh vision.
What are the things you’re most proud over your time with the fest?
Bringing stability and infrastructure to the organization was a big one. I use to dread Fridays because there were times when we didn’t have money in the bank to pay staff and our bills. It took a lot of energy from all of us, but we took some chances that allowed us to grow and it’s paid off. There are a lot of other things I’m really proud of, but watching filmmakers grow through their careers has been a big one. I’ve been fortunate to witness so many talented young artists go through our mentorship program, be the recipient of our Mark S Bonham Scholarship or just have their first films play Inside Out, and then to watch them as they produce new work and go on to bigger successes.
What’s next on your radar?
I’m really not sure what I want to do next. Inside Out has introduced me to so many new possibilities and helped me develop skills I didn’t have when I started here. I’m looking forward to the next chapter and taking what I’ve learned here and hopefully continuing to grow personally and professionally.
Any words of advice for your successor?
Enjoy the ride! It can seem overwhelming at times, but Inside Out is a special organization and the people who’re involved, who support us and who make queer films are some of the warmest, most talented and most dedicated people I’ve ever crossed paths with. Besides that, get ready to be heckled on stage and stopped in the grocery store when you’re buying toilet paper so people can offer their critiques of the films you’ve screened.