Skye’s the limit for ambitious screenwriters

Producer Chris Young, third from right, with 2019 screenwriting participants in 'Sundance on Skye'.

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Are you a screenwriter – budding or otherwise – who would love the chance to work with an inspiring mentor from the industry?

Following the success of the Young Films Foundation’s (YFF) screenwriting residencies on the Isle of Skye, film and TV producer Chris Young this year takes the scheme to the next level – offering participants the opportunity to work with UK broadcasters, professional mentors and industry experts on a year-long programme to take their ideas from pitch to commissioned script.

Launching as a pilot scheme in 2017 and immediately dubbed ‘Sundance on Skye’, YFF’s talent development scheme was set up to support, encourage and nurture new Scottish writing talent.

In 2018 and 2019 YFF conducted two week-long intensive residencies on the Isle of Skye for six novice Scottish film and TV writers.

In 2021, producer Chris Young, whose credits include 2005’s Festival, The Inbetweeners franchise and BBC Alba Gaelic-language drama series Bannan, has teamed up with award-winning producer and former head of drama at Channel 4, Beth Willis (Doctor Who, Eric and Ernie, Ashes to Ashes) from The Forge to expand the scope and ambition of the programme in creating a full 360-degree commissioning experience for this year’s selected participants.

For the first time, each of the seven selected participants will receive a full TV drama, comedy or feature film script commission from either Channel 4 Drama, Channel 4 Comedy, BBC Drama, MG  Alba/BBC Alba, BBC Films, Film4 or Sky.

They will receive a full script fee from the broadcaster with which they are partnered, while each broadcaster has the first refusal option over the script commissioned.

Alongside Young Films, key financial support has been provided by Screen Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Channel 4 Nations and Regions and Torabhaig Distillery.

In a further development, each participant will be assigned a leading industry mentor who will be available to give support and advice throughout the year-long programme.

This year, Karen Gillan, Lenny Abrahamson, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Taylor, Daisy Haggard, Peter Straughan, Andrew Macdonald, Jackie Kay and John Yorke and many others will be available to share ideas, advice and their own personal experiences of the industry.

The year will culminate with a week-long inspirational and immersive residency on the Isle of Skye in May 2022, where participants, mentors and a number of the programme’s experts will come together to discuss and further develop their work, ahead of script delivery to broadcasters two months later.

The scheme is open to writers resident in Scotland from all backgrounds – from experienced screenwriters looking to write their first feature film to novice screenwriters, as well as authors and playwrights looking for a change in direction.

Chris said: ‘This is an extraordinary opportunity for new Scottish screenwriters at a time when there has never been a greater demand for high quality, authored and original film and TV scripts.

‘Writing talent doesn’t get enough opportunity in Scotland to realise its ambition and, by scaling up our programme, we hope it will be a powerful way to connect new Scottish screenwriters with the big business.

‘We are very lucky to have this incredible vote of confidence in Scotland from these broadcasters, and are delighted to be joined by such a high quality range of mentors and experts willing to share truthfully their wisdom and insight.’

Applications opened on March 8. Full eligibility criteria and application details can be found at