Development fund unveils debut slate for First Feature Awards

One of the more promising schemes to come out of the UK Film Council in recent years, the Development Fund's programme for first-time filmmakers has made its first awards to creatives and projects reflecting the fund’s stated aims to open up opportunities for budding writers and filmmakers across the UK. The first set of awardees includes three writers who are completely new to the industry.

The programme aims to identify and support emerging filmmakers: screenwriters, writer/directors and writer, director, producer teams who have not made a feature film or who have not yet had a feature film released theatrically or broadcast on UK television, whilst also fostering talent that has already made a mark in shorts or other media.  In addition to providing financial support, the programme also includes mentors, with Simon Beaufoy, Ayub Khan Din and Pawel Pawlikowski already lined up. Details of the first six winners, whose awards averaged £10k, after the read more link.

 

A newcomer to scriptwriting, Neth Knowles, based in Rugby, has created an original take on saying anything to get the girl with The Bailey Method about a 23-year-old slacker who falls crazily in love with a girl who only dates actors. 

Greener is the first screenplay from Elena Fuller and is a touching, often comic story of a young woman’s self-realisation in coming to terms with grief.  After the death of her mother, girl about town Lucy is invited to join her mother’s rambling group of eccentrics and in literally following in her mother’s footsteps, she learns more about a parent she felt estranged from.  

 Guardian of the Shore is the first screenplay from Devon-based Richard Fordyce. This epic yet contemporary retelling of events leading to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 focuses on King Harold’s selfless efforts to save his family and country from a ruthlessly ambitious foe, Duke William. Fusing heroism, honour and romance to classic effect, the film will portray Harold as an idealistic and enlightened ruler who laid down his life for his love of family and country. 
 
Freelance writer/script editor Ruth McCance is developing Capital, inspired by Francis Wheen’s best-selling biography about the philosopher, political economist and revolutionary Karl Marx and his friend and ally Frederick Engels.  Tracing six months for the two soul mates whilst in exile in London, the film is a playful and picturesque take on the conventional biopic.  
 
Laid Off is the first feature project from Zam Salim who has made a number of well-received short films including Laid Off, Cold Light of Day and the award-winning short documentary Black and White.  In this sharp as a pin deadpan comedy about life and love in limbo, Martin finds himself in the Afterlife advising the deceased on how best to get by, whilst himself on the waiting list for the ‘Up There’. Scottish Screen is also offering development support to Salim 
 
A Necessary Life is a documentary from director Jocelyn Cammack who has made a series of prize winning short documentaries and fiction films (Better or Worse?, The Thousand Yard Stare). This feature documentary focuses on three extraordinary women who live in a residential home for the ‘active elderly’. Through lives lived passion and purpose and which span a century of enormous change, the film sets out to be a poignant, moving study reflecting on the insatiable human need to feel necessary - despite the reality of physical, and sometimes mental, deterioration. This project has also been green-lit by BBC Storyville.
 
Tanya Seghatchian, Head of the UK Film Council’s Development Fund says: “We  are delighted to be launching the First Feature Development Programme with such a diverse range of projects and voices. It is real testimony to the fund’s belief that there is exciting new talent out there to be discovered and nurtured, and the team looks forward to working on the projects and helping to navigate them forward.”

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