My Big Break: Iain Scollay, creative executive, Mentorn Scotland

AS reported last month on, Iain Scollay has been named creative executive at Mentorn Scotland, moving there from fellow Glasgow-based TV production company, Matchlight, which he helped co-found.

When did working in the media first start becoming an ambition?

Pretty late. As a student, I had studied politics, and worked as an intern for an American Congressman in Washington DC.  I thought I wanted to work in politics, but then heard about a job as a political researcher on a television programme…

What was your first ‘media job’?

I became a researcher at London Weekend Television, on Jonathan Dimbleby’s political interview show. Every week, we’d prepare Jonathan for a live interview with leading politicians.

I stayed on the show for nearly five years, had huge amounts of fun, and went on to become a producer. I met Cabinet Ministers and leading politicians, made some great friends, and held a lobby pass at Westminster for a while.

As a first job, it was thrilling, and a real education. I still miss the buzz of live television and making headlines.

Describe, briefly, how your career unfolded between your first media job and where you are now.

After a while making politics programmes, I fancied a change and moved onto other programmes at LWT, learning to direct documentaries. On my first documentary series, I discovered a then, little known, chef called Gordon Ramsey.

I moved from there to RDF Television, which at that time was probably the hottest independent production company. There, I directed on series, including Faking It for Channel 4.

Then in 2002, I moved back to Scotland. Mentorn Television were opening a new Scottish office and I joined the company. After a couple of years with Mentorn, I went freelance working with several independent producers and with the BBC, before I became one of the founders of Matchlight.

I made films for many of the leading documentary strands, like Cutting Edge, One Life and Equinox. And I’ve produced with many major names in television like Russell Brand, John Humphrys, Jon Snow and Griff Rhys Jones. And now I’m delighted to be back working with Mentorn Media and look forward to helping them grow their business in Scotland.

Any particularly big breaks along the way?

I bribed one boss with rare Arsenal memorabilia I’d come across, and, in exchange, he gave me my first Channel 4 network directing credit.

Then the series of Faking It I’d worked on won the BAFTA that year, along with several other awards, and many doors opened.

Who would you like to thank more than most?

Alexander Gardiner, now the head of Shiver, gave me my first TV job and I will always be enormously grateful. He was a wonderful and generous mentor. He also introduced me to my wife…

And the late, and sorely missed, Hilary Bell, who was a commissioner editor at Channel 4. She put a lot of faith in me when I was a young director and commissioned me to make my favourite film for C4’s Cutting Edge strand.

And a big thanks to Mark Roberts, the creative director of Mentorn, who’s hired me for my current job.

What do you know now that you wished you had known when you started?

Making films has taken me to some incredible places, and to meet people in quite extraordinary circumstances. It is a rare privilege, and a pleasure, to have a job like this, so enjoy it while it lasts.