Big names from film world to become mentors at Skye talent school

A host of Scotland's leading filmmakers '“ including writers, directors and producers of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, The Last King of Scotland, Sunshine on Leith and The Beach '“ are to become mentors at a new talent initiative being set up on Skye.
Sunshine on Leith's Peter MullanSunshine on Leith's Peter Mullan
Sunshine on Leith's Peter Mullan

Chris Young, the Edinburgh-born producer of The Inbetweeners, who has lived on the island for 20 years, is masterminding the project.

He has revealed that both Channel 4 and Film4 are backing the initiative, which will see participants spent a week on the island each spring.

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It is envisaged that the Young Film Foundation, based at ­Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college, will establish long-lasting relationships with each participant to get projects “production ready”.

Director Kevin Macdonald, whose credits include The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, his brother Andrew, producer of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Sunshine on Leith, David Harrower, who is working on a film on the Lockerbie disaster conspiracies, and John Hodge, who wrote the scripts for the two Trainspotting films, have all agreed to help nurture a new generation of screen talent.

Also signed up are Claudie Ossard, producer of Amelie, Iain Morris and Damon Beesley, writers of The Inbetweeners, and Georgina Lowe, ­producer of Vera Drake and Mr Turner.

Mr Young has been inspired by Robert Redford’s Sundance film foundation in Utah. He also hopes to persuade directors Danny Boyle, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and David Mackenzie – currently making the Netflix film Outlaw King on Skye – to get involved.

And Mr Young hopes some of the world’s leading filmmakers will eventually be drawn to Skye by the course’s reputation and the prospect of immersing themselves in the heart of landscapes attracting growing numbers of blockbuster films.

He has already trained actors, directors, writers and technicians in Skye to work on the Gaelic drama Bannan over the last four years, and has just landed a four-year deal with BBC Alba to secure the future of the show.

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The Young Film Foundation has launched an initial hunt for six Scottish writers, directors and producers with ideas for new projects. Films, drama series and comedy shows are all eligible and at least one Gaelic project will be selected.

Mr Young said: “What I want to create is the idea in the industry that once a year there is this fantastic week where lots of creative people come together.

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“I just think it’ll become a real hot ticket so you wouldn’t need to persuade people to come here, they’d just want to come. Skye is unlike anywhere else. When people come here they’re never disappointed.

“The real dream in future years would be to get a different course leader every year who bring in their own mentors. I really like the idea of bringing people to a place where there is no pressure – you’ll be able to have a genuine free exchange of ideas.”

Sandra MacRae, manager of the foundation, said: “We’re looking for a treatment or outline rather than a finished script. We’re looking for six very different people with very different projects at different stages of development. The course will be tailored to the specific needs of each project.”

Sue Bruce-Smith, Film4’s head of commercial, said: “Discovering and nurturing new talent has always been one of our core objectives. We look forward to helping guide and develop the next generation of Scottish filmmakers.”

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