Edinburgh Festival Fringe screen showcase aims to emulate success of Fleabag, Billy Connolly and Still Game

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is to join forces with Scotland's screen agency for a drive to unearth a new wave of theatre, film and comedy hits at the event.

A week-long “Screen Fringe” will be targeted at film and TV industry executives, producers and talent scouts each year.

The industry showcase, which will launch this August, is aimed at capitalising on the huge growth of streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix, as well as increasing efforts to make more TV shows and films outside London.

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A programme of recommended Fringe shows with potential to be adapted for the screen will be put together for delegates. There will be a focus on showcasing emerging Scottish talent and shows which are attracting early press and media “buzz” as part of the venture, which is hoped to forge a stronger relationship between the Fringe and Scotland’s screen sector.

Phoebe Waller Bridge won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for the stage version of Fleabag in 2013. Picture: Esme Allen

A dedicated manager for the Screen Fringe, which will also have a dedicated programme of networking events and advice sessions, will act as an official go-between to link up representatives of the film and TV industries with performers, writers and directors putting on Fringe shows.

It is hoped the Screen Fringe, which was staged in a smaller pilot format in 2019, will lead to more Scottish, UK and international film and TV producers seeking out new talent at the festival, which marks its 75th anniversary this summer.

Steve Coogan, Rowan Atkinson, Sir Billy Connolly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Stephen Fry, Alan Cumming, Emma Thompson and Craig Ferguson are among the stars whose careers were kick-started at the Fringe.

Early versions of Still Game, The League Of Gentlemen and Fleabag were staged at the Fringe, where new Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa, Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda all appeared as unknowns.

Scottish theatre hits at the Fringe which have been adapted for the screen in recent years have included Kieran Hurley’s Beats and Adura Onashile’s Expensive S**t.

The launch of the Screen Fringe this summer will coincide with the return of the Edinburgh International Film Festival to an August slot for the first time in 15 years.

Fringe chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “The Fringe is the biggest arts marketplace in the world. It’s where raw talent is spotted, new opportunities are created and important creative relationships are made.

“An important element of our work at the Fringe Society is helping to facilitate further opportunities for artists as a result of their run at the festival.

"For many, this means exploring the option of adapting their work for film and TV, and this partnership aims to support those who are looking to make that exciting step."

Screen Scotland executive director Isabel Davis said: “The premise of our pilot in 2019 was simple – to make it easier for film and TV makers to unearth talent and stories unveiled at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that could be ripe for development as film or TV.

"It’s obvious usefulness to industry, after three more years of huge growth in high-end TV production and viewing figures, is why we’re chomping at the bit to deliver a bigger version in 2022.

"Partnering with the wonderful folk at the Fringe is a joy, an inspiration and often a revelation – performing arts, film and TV should talk more often.”

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