New Writing North and Film4 join forces in opportunity for North East talents

Filming location sign
-Credit: (Image: Barbara Hodgson)

A unique opportunity is on offer for talented writers and production companies in the North East to develop work for the screen.

A partnership between Newcastle-based agency New Writing North and Film4 has established a Genre Feature Lab which will be focusing upon local talents and giving them a platform to show what they can do. It is seeking three exciting screenwriters from the north to take part and applications are now open.

Entry is also open for applications from independent production companies based in the North of Tyne area - around Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside - and the idea will be to team up each writer with a company to work together on a film development programme. There will be a two-day 'residential lab' then their idea for a feature film will be further developed, with the help of an experienced script editor, to a stage that sees it ready to present and pitch to Film4.

Roxy McKenna, screen development producer at New Writing North, said: "The Genre Feature Lab is a unique opportunity for northern writers to learn from leading industry experts, develop bold new work and build a meaningful relationship with Film4." And Amy O’Hara, development and production executive at Film4, added: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with New Writing North, whose reputation for nurturing writers from the north is second to none."

She said the lab will help develop relationships with storytellers from the region and added: "We’re excited by the talent and ideas we’ll discover along the way.” The lab is looking for "boundary-pushing writers with a distinctive voice and point of view" and those successful will be led by Bafta-winning creative producers Ivana Mackinnon - of 2017 psychological thriller Beast - and Emily Leo (2016 horror Under the Shadow) from Wild Swim Films, who will push them to take creative risks and maximise their potential.

Applications must be made by the deadline of July 1 and the Genre Feature Lab will run from September until March. As well as being produced by New Writing North and supported by Film4, the development programme is being funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority.

McKenna added that this support ensures that local production companies are at the heart of the programme; helping drive cutting-edge work and making "vital industry connections". The project comes at an exciting time for film production, following on from the recent announcement of support for the UK's independent film sector which will see film tax credit increase to 40% for movies with budgets of up to £15m.

The New Writing North partnership also builds upon its long-standing relationship with Channel 4 which includes a Northern Talent Network and the Channel 4 Writing for Television Awards, supporting local writers keen to work for TV.

Writers and writer-directors interested in applying for the Genre Feature Lab are told they should have "a real appreciation and understanding of the genre they are writing for and know how to make work that subverts tropes, is smart, surprising and has the potential to reach a wide audience". To apply see here.