UK Film Council hands out new talent grants

The UK Film Council has released details of the first projects to receive cash under its new Development Fund for first-time filmmakers. The recipients include three writers with no previous film experience whatsoever. Awardees will receive a grant to help make their first feature, as well as mentoring from figures such as Simon Beaufoy, Ayub Khan Din and Pawel Pawlikowski.

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.”

The filmmakers on the receiving end of the first grants are:

- Neth Knowles: a Rugby-based newcomer to scriptwriting, Knowles 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.

- Elena Fuller: Fuller's first screenplay, Greener, 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.

- Richard Fordyce: Devon-based Fordyce's first screenplay, Guardian of the Shore, is an epic yet contemporary retelling of events leading to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It 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.

- Ruth McCance: This freelance writer and script editor 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 soulmates whilst in exile in London, the film is a playful and picturesque take on the conventional biopic.

- Zam Salim: Having made a number of well-received short films including Cold Light of Day and the award-winning short documentary Black and White, Laid Off Salim's first feature project. It is a sharp, 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.

- Jocelyn Cammack: The director of a series of prize winning short documentaries and fiction films (Better or Worse?, The Thousand Yard Stare) has received her grant to make A Necessary Life, a feature documentary about 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 aims 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.

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