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Sundance on Skye searches for new Scottish screenwriting talent

By David G Scott

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Aspiring scriptwriters in Caithness have the opportunity to work with UK broadcasters, professional mentors and industry experts on a year-long programme to take their ideas from pitch to commissioned script.

Launching as a pilot scheme in 2017, where it was immediately billed Sundance on Skye, Young Films Foundation’s (YFF) talent development scheme was set up to support, encourage and nurture new Scottish writing talent. In 2018 and 2019 YFF conducted two week-long intensive residencies for six novice Scottish film and TV writers on the Isle of Skye.

In 2021, producer Chris Young (whose credits include 2005’s Festival, The Inbetweeners franchise and BBC Alba Gaelic-language drama series Bannan) has teamed up with award-winning producer and former Head of Drama at Channel 4, Beth Willis (Doctor Who, Eric and Ernie, Ashes to Ashes) from The Forge to expand the scope and ambition of the programme in creating an intensive commissioning experience for this year’s selected participants.

Chris Young at the festival in 2019.
Chris Young at the festival in 2019.

In 2021, for the first time, each of the seven selected participants will receive a full TV drama, comedy or feature film script commission from either Channel 4 Drama, Channel 4 Comedy, BBC Drama, MG Alba /BBC Alba, BBC Films, Film4 or Sky. Each participant will receive a full script fee from the broadcaster with which they’re partnered, while each broadcaster has the first right of refusal over the script they have commissioned.

In a further development to the scheme, each participant will be assigned a leading industry mentor who will be available to give support and advice throughout the year-long programme.

As in previous years, inspirational experts from the world of film and TV will engage with the participants in online sessions throughout the year, and at a week-long residency on Skye in 2022, to share ideas, advice and their own experiences of the industry.

Chris Young said: “We’re incredibly excited to be taking our new talent scheme to the next level. This is an extraordinary opportunity for new Scottish screenwriters at a time when there has never been a greater demand for high quality, authored and original film and TV scripts. Writing talent doesn’t get enough opportunity in Scotland to realise its ambition and, by scaling up our programme, we hope it will be a powerful way to connect new Scottish screenwriters with the big business."

Sundance on Skye looks for new screenwriting talent.
Sundance on Skye looks for new screenwriting talent.

The year will culminate with a week-long inspirational and immersive residency on the Isle of Skye in May 2022, where participants, mentors and a number of the programme’s experts will come together to discuss and further develop their work, ahead of script delivery to broadcasters two months later.

The scheme, which opens for applications today (March 8), is open to all Scottish residents and this year is looking for writers from all backgrounds: from experienced screenwriters looking to write their first feature film; to novice screenwriters; to authors and playwrights looking for a change in direction.

Full eligibility criteria and application details can be found at www.youngfilmsfoundation.co.uk

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