Media Release: Emerging screenwriting talent selected to develop original screenplays


SIX projects by Scotland-based emerging screenwriting talent have been selected for development into feature-length screenplays as part of an initiative to strengthen skills development and training opportunities across Scotland’s screen sector.

The Creative Scotland Screenwriting Workshops are supported by the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland’s Screen Skills Fund and will be hosted by Hospitalfield in partnership with Producer, Mentor and Script Consultant Olivia Stewart, of Three Rivers Film.

Launched in May 2016, the opportunity to apply for the Workshops was open to emerging writer/directors, screenwriters and artists who have received positive attention for previous work and are looking for guidance and support towards writing feature-length screenplays: Martin Clark, Lisa Grindall, Neil Hepburn, Veronika Koubova, Samir Mehanović and Martin Smith will work with Olivia and fellow industry mentors, Alfredo Covelli and Ian Sellar, to develop their projects during a series of residencies and discussions that will take place at Hospitalfield over the next four months.

Fiona Hyslop, Culture Secretary, said: “The Screen Skills Fund provides vital training and skills development opportunities for people considering a career in screen and those already involved in the sector. The fund demonstrates our commitment to the development of talent, skills and expertise needed for our screen sector to flourish across Scotland.

“I welcome the news that Olivia Stewart of Three Rivers Film will lead the programme in conjunction with Hospitalfield. Together with fellow industry mentors, Alfredo Covelli and Ian Sellar, their strong global credentials will ensure the screenwriting residency is a fantastic programme, and I wish each participant every success.”

Ross McKenzie, screen officer at Creative Scotland, said: “Creating opportunities to encourage the development of emerging screenwriting talent in Scotland is central to the work we are undertaking alongside Scottish Government and other partners, to grow and support Scotland’s screen sector.

“We’re delighted to welcome Olivia, Alfredo and Ian to Scotland to work with the extremely talented workshop participants on their projects. Involving a diverse mix of writer/directors, documentary and experimental filmmakers, film and television drama writers and playwrights, the participants will be able to develop their discipline whilst working on live projects that can eventually be taken out to market.”

Olivia Stewart, the workshop director, said: “Excellence and diversity informed our selection of the first year’s group of writers and directors for the Creative Scotland Screenwriting Workshops and, through a series of individual and group sessions, masterclasses and general discussions, our aim is for the participants to realise the full potential of their vision.

“Excellence has also been key to my involvement with the Scottish filmmaking community which started in 1985 and includes producing THE HOUSE OF MIRTH in Glasgow in 1999 and working with Scott Graham on the script for his film SHELL in 2009, so I too am delighted with the new opportunity that Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government have given us to bring to the international filmmaking community the talent and outward-looking diversity which reflects Scotland today.”

Claudia Yusef, talent development executive for Scottish Film Talent Network, was part of the selection panel for the programme.

She spoke about the standard of applications and the experience of shortlisting: “It’s wonderful to see the range of talent that applied for this new programme. The final selection was incredibly difficult, given the high standard of applications, and large number of fantastic stories waiting to be told.”

Lucy Byatt, director of Hospitalfield, spoke about how the programme fits within Hospitalfield’s overall activity: “Hospitalfield is delighted to be hosting the Creative Scotland Screenwriting Workshops and using our infrastructure and networks to manage and deliver the programme.

“As a site, this beautiful house has over 150 years of history in supporting the development of ideas and skills in cultural fields and we have several existing literary connections which are born out in our collections and archives. Our situation works well as both as a meeting place and as a location for individual study; both will be important elements of the programme over the next few months.”


Notes to editors:

The Creative Scotland Screenwriting Workshops are supported by the Scottish Government through Creative Scotland’s Screen Skills Fund. This £1 million Fund is supporting and strengthening skills development and training opportunities across the Scottish Screen Sector and forms part of a wider package of public sector support to stimulate growth in the screen sector, find out more.

Biographical information about the six participants:

Martin Clark is a Glasgow-based photographer and filmmaker with a wide-ranging experience that moves between self-initiated projects, cultural commissions and commercial presentations. He co-founded Connolly Clark Films with Cara Connolly in 2009, their primary output is comprised of short documentaries and commissioners include BBC Scotland, The Glasgow School of Art, Creative Scotland and ArtAngel.

Exchange & Mart was Connolly Clark’s first dramatic work and signalled the creative expansion of their ambition and output. Martin Clark’s work to date has been rooted in an enduring fascination with portraiture and the importance, and a love of, good storytelling.

Lisa Grindall graduated from Screen Academy Scotland at Edinburgh Napier University in 2012. She has previously worked as an actor with many Scottish theatre companies throughout the 80s and 90s and as a director and playwright with Greycoast Theatre Co. and Mull Theatre, including writing a musical play based on the Katie Morag stories which toured across Scotland.

She has worked on a number of adaptations for children and young people often focussing on classic or mythical subjects such as Macbeth (2013) and The Legend of Knockmany. Lisa also teaches drama in Scottish schools.

Neil Hepburn is a screenwriter and independent filmmaker with a passion for cult cinema and dark thrillers. After completing a screenwriting MA in Bournemouth, he was recognised by Skillset as one of the five best screenwriters from UK Screen Academies.

Early work was shortlisted for The Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award. The scripts that followed – primarily dramas and tense psychological thrillers – received development support from BBC Scotland, BBC Writersroom and DigiCult. Neil has also been selected for several talent initiatives, including at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Veronika Koubova has recently graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Masters in Film Directing. Prior to that, she studied Master of Arts in Film & Visual Culture & History of Art at the University of Aberdeen.

In the past, she has worked on feature films and written, directed and produced short films, music videos and promotional videos. Her short film, Lemur, won the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award for sound design and was a nominee for VFX at Sreentes Film Festival in 2016.

Samir Mehanović is a Bosnian born film director, producer, and screenwriter who has lived in Scotland since 1995. He received a BAFTA Scotland award for the short film The Way We Played and IDFA Special Jury Award for his latest documentary, The Fog of Srebrenica.

Samir learnt his craft by writing and directing in theatre and later he completed MA Film and TV at Edinburgh College of Art. He also attended Binger Lab in 2011 with his feature film Mirzain development with Creative Scotland.

Martin Smith is a BAFTA award-winning filmmaker. He has made a number of award winning short films including SEAGULLS, TRACKS and JIMMY. SEAGULLS premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival where it was Nominated for the Crystal Bear and subsequently won the Golden Reel Award for Best Short Film at Tiburon, California. He is currently developing his debut feature film.

Biographical information about Olivia Stewart, workshop director, and the mentors:

Olivia Stewart has extensive experience as a producer, mentor and script consultant. Her films include Terence Davies’ Distant Voices, Still Lives, The Long Day Closes, The Neon Bible and The House Of Mirth; Mark Herman’s Brassed Off; Mike Figgis’ The Browning Version; and Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine. Via her collaboration with the Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam and NFDC India, she has worked on a number of projects including Scott Graham’s Shell (Best Film Torino Film Festival 2012).

She has also been a member of the NSW Aurora Script Workshop in Sydney; the Glasgow Playwright’s Studio Script Workshop; the selection committee for the TorinoFilmLab Framework Programme; NFDC Film Bazaar and National Script Labs; and, the international juries for the Locarno Film Festival, the Fajr Film Festival, Tehran and Asiatica Film Mediale, Rome and in 2015 was a member of the San Sebastian Film Festival new directors’ jury.

In 2014, she set up the EYE PRIZE with the EYE Film Museum Amsterdam; and in 2015, supported the PJLF Pangolin Prize – a two year sculpture residency.

Alfredo Covelli is an assistant director in features and TV series. As a screen writer, his work includes: La scuola è finita directed by Valerio Jalongo (Rome Film Festival 2010); Italian TV series I Liceali; I Liceali 2; Piper; and feature Studio Illegale directed by Umberto Carteni, produced by Warner Brothers Italia.

Since 2015, he has been a script consultant for the Indian Government (NFDC) tutoring Indian directors. In 2011, he directed his first short film, Grandma must get dry. During visits to Israel and Palestine, he made the experimental short films Salmon, Missing Parts and Love Letter, even if you treat me bad.

He made the documentary, Ring People, while living in the homeless community of Venice Beach, California.

With real stars above my head is his first autobiographical feature, and was set in a retirement house for Buddhist nuns in the Himalayas. His films have been included in 200 festivals in 30 countries and distributed or broadcast in Italy, France and the Netherlands. He also runs the independent production company, Meproducodasolo, working with first time directors: Off Road/Fuoristrada a documentary directed by Elisa Amoruso (Special Mention, Rome Film Festival) released in cinemas, broadcast by SKY and MTV; A new family, a short documentary by Simone Manetti (BFI London Film Festival 2014); Manetti’s first documentary feature Goodbye Darling, I’m off to fight and Yesterday, it was the first work of fiction by award-winning documentarian, Valentina Pedicini.

Ian Sellar is a filmmaker who began his career as an assistant to Bill Douglas. He went on, via design and editing, into writing and directing shorts and then to studying at the National Film and Television School. His first feature, Venus Peter was in official selection in Cannes and Sundance. This was followed by Prague, also chosen for Cannes, Tokyo and many others. As a writer his, Home Road Movies was winner of the Cartoon d’Or and numerous other prizes. Ian, based in the UK, is senior lecturer at the National Film and Television School. He has run workshops, normally at first feature level, for writers and directors in many parts of the world. Within the industry working with individual feature directors and writer/directors, Ian acts as an advisor from script development onwards. He brings humour and tenacity to all of his work, qualities that have allowed him to form close collaborations with many successful filmmakers from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds.

Dedicated to contemporary art and ideas, Hospitalfield is a place to work, study, learn, visit and enjoy. Hospitalfield is an historic artist’s house in Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland. The organisation runs a series of research, development and production opportunities for cultural practitioners in the form of residencies, seminars and summer schools. They present a public programme of artists’ projects through four quarterly open weekends. Hospitalfield House is an extraordinary example of early Arts & Crafts architecture and holds several collections of works on paper, paintings and craft, mainly built up by Patrick and Elizabeth Allan-Fraser as they developed the house between 1843 and 1890. They left the estate in Trust to support education in the arts and to become a residential art school.

For more information about Hospitalfield please see our ‘about’ and ‘future plan’pages on our website.

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and

Media contacts:

For more info, to request an interview with the Olivia Stewart or to request images please contact: Laura Simpson, programme manager, 01241 656 124

For more info on the Screen Skills Fund, please contact: Sophie Bambrough, media relations and PR officer, Creative Scotland 0131 523 0015

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Creative Scotland contact details…

Contact: Sophie Bambrough
Phone: 0131 523 0015