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EIGHT aspiring film-makers have just been shortlisted to produce their own digitally animated film for Channel 4, through MESH, the UK’s first ever national scheme to identify and nurture new talent in computer generated digital animation.

The scheme - which is now in its second year, was set up by Channel 4 and one of Scotland’s leading production companies - Blackwatch Productions, received more than 150 film proposals from budding animators throughout the country.

Among the hopefuls, who will undergo several months of training with four scripts eventually being selected to be made into short films, are Matt Hulse and Ellen Deakin, both based in Edinburgh.

The winning films will then be premiered at next years Edinburgh film festival. One director will also receive a bursary of 10,000 to produce a feature film proposal for FilmFour Lab.

The scheme, which was launched in a bid to encourage new talent to follow in the footsteps of those behind recent blockbuster movies such as Shrek, Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, and the TV series South Park, received 50,000 financial assistance from NESTA, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, to support the mentoring and development process.

Digital animation is an area of rapid growth in the entertainment industry and the UK’s film animators are regarded as among the most cutting edge in the world.

Nicola Black, who set up Glasgow-based Blackwatch Productions in 1995, said: "Blackwatch and Channel 4 aim to make MESH a centre of excellence for digital animation, something which will be recognised throughout the world."

Stuart Cosgrove, Channel 4’s head of programmes for nations & regions said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to work with exciting new talent in the expanding field of digital animation."

He added: "Scotland and the North of England make up an incredible 60% of the world’s design and production of computer games. While one director will be selected to develop a feature film proposal, this scheme aims to blur the lines of distinction between different disciplines.

"Through MESH, we hope to develop talent in digital animation across all media platforms, including games, music promos, web design and visual art."

The four winning proposals from last year’s scheme will be shown on Channel 4 this week and include the film Wrong Turn, the work of Campbell McAllister from Glasgow.

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