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Scottish film and TV companies selected for specialist development support

Published: 13 Nov 2017

barry crerar

Film City Futures, in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute, has announced details of the first cohort of screen sector companies to participate in the newly-established screen sector business development initiative, FOCUS. 

FOCUS is a pilot project, funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, and the participating companies, that provides expert, sector-specific business support to screen production companies working in Scotland. Seven production companies have been selected in the first intake of the new programme, with applications now open for further companies to benefit from the support available.

The selected companies are barry crerar, Black Camel PicturesBees NeesHopscotch FilmsLa Belle Allée Productions, Matchlight and Seventh Crow. Each will now start working with an allocated FOCUS Business Development expert to create a business development strategy for their company. The consultants are Olsberg*SPI, Mike Kelly from Northern Alliance, and Jen Topping.

Natalie Usher, Director of Screen at Creative Scotland, said: These companies represent a broad mix of new and established companies across film and television, all with ambition for growth.  Developed in consultation with the sector and funded in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, FOCUS is an exciting new initiative that will provide access to vital specialist business development support leading to a clear and resourced strategy for growth. Creative Scotland continues to be committed to working with partners to generate the conditions necessary to ensure the continued growth of Scotland’s screen sector.”

Rebecca Thompson, Business Development Manager, FOCUS, said: “The selected screen companies are ambitious, focused, and stand to benefit tremendously from the expertise of the consultants. The consultants have a wealth of experience in supporting business transformation for companies and organisations, and represent a very high standard of business support. We are now actively seeking applications from consultants with a similar level of expertise across a range of screen specialisms for the next phase of the project.”

Rosie Crerar, Producer, barry crerar, said: “We are delighted to be selected as FOCUS participants at this early stage in our company life - the expertise and support that FOCUS provides is already proving invaluable, enabling us to strategise and enact the ambition we have to grow an innovative and commercially successful film and TV production company.”

Alasdair MacCuish, CEO, Bees Nees, said: ’2017 feels like a pivotal year for the TV sector in Scotland. The forthcoming establishment of the new BBC Scotland channel, increased commitment in the regions from BBC network and Channel 4 and the continued support BBC ALBA offers to the independent sector is all incredibly positive. The local production community is vibrant and hungry to show what Scotland has to offer. There is still a lot of work to do, but Bees Nees remains ambitious for the industry as a whole and excited by the part we can play in its future success. The opportunity to be benefit from the support of FOCUS could not be more timely.’’

Alasdair Maccuish

Applications are now open for ambitious Scottish companies producing film, TV or animation, for broadcast or distribution, to take part in FOCUS. Interested companies should visit filmcityfutures.com

FOCUS is also now tendering for consultants with expertise in business management, book scouting, development, distribution, digital, finance, HR, leadership, legal, marketing, production or script consultancy to support the companies in the next stage of the project. For further information please visit filmcityfutures.com/expertise-2

Media Contact: Rebecca Thompson, Business Development Manager, FOCUS | E: Rebecca.thompson@filmcityfutures.com | T: (+44) 07866 730612.

About FOCUS 

FOCUS is a new initiative by Film City Futures, in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute, and funded by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise and participating companies.  Screen business are not always able to access the business development expertise that they need in order to achieve significant growth. FOCUS seeks to change this, by providing screen sector companies with access to the sector-specific business development expertise that they need from experts in Production, Law, HR, book scouting, sales and distribution, and other areas. 

Applications can now be submitted at any time, with the FOCUS process starting at a time within the two-year pilot to suit the company. Applications are assessed by the FOCUS team on a monthly basis, with feedback given within two weeks of assessment. All applications will be assessed according to the project’s eligibility and selection criteria, and 20 companies will be supported over the course of the pilot.  For more information, criteria, guidelines and application form interested companies should visit filmcityfutures.com

More information about the tender for specialist consultancy services is available on Public Contracts Scotland and on the FOCUS website: filmcityfutures.com/expertise-2

About the selected Film and TV production companies:

barry crerar is a film production company founded in October 2016 by producing duo Ciara Barry and Rosie Crerar. As the only Scottish recipients of a BFI Vision Award, barry crerar are developing a slate of contemporary and culturally relevant stories from Scotland. The company is committed to working with new and underrepresented voices, making films that provoke and inspire. They have projects in development with Esther May Campbell (Light Years), Paul Wright (For Those In Peril) and Scott Graham (Iona, Shell). In 2017 they produced Spite Your Face with artist filmmaker Rachel Maclean, representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2017.  They are currently casting/ financing Born to Run, the 3rd feature from writer/director Scott Graham, in co-production with Margaret Matheson’s bard entertainments. They are also co-producing feature documentary Irene’s Ghost (dir Iain Cunningham, producer Rebecca Mark Lawson), and are in pre-production with SFTN funded short, Be Still My Beating Heart by writer/director Ruth Paxton.

Bees Nees is home to a highly experienced production team, equally accustomed to producing authored documentaries right through to live entertainment shows. Their track record is exemplary; since 2007 they have been responsible for more than 200 hours of tv programming and hundreds of hours of radio. Recent highlights include: four series of award-winning international co-production PORT - the part music, part travelogue documentary series with Julie Fowlis; the return of their popular blue-light series Scotstar, commissioned by BBC ALBA and sold internationally, and HAMISH, the critically acclaimed feature documentary on the life and times of poet, folklorist and cultural giant Hamish Henderson. Long running music strands on radio, hosted by the legendary broadcaster Iain Anderson and young troubadour Roddy Hart, have built loyal audiences, both at home and around the world. http://beesnees.tv

Black Camel Pictures, creator of the successful Outpost trilogy of films, is a production company founded in Glasgow by Arabella Page Croft and Kieran Parker. Their feature film Legacy was selected for numerous festivals and was awarded The Grand Jury Prize at the 14th Annual American Black Film Festival in Miami. Black Camel also produced the successful feature films Sunshine on Leith and The Rezort.www.blackcamel.co.uk (under construction)

Hopscotch Films makes high-end award-winning television documentaries, arts programmes and feature films.  In 2016 they were in the BFI’s top 20 most productive UK film companies, and top of their Scottish list.  Features include Atomic, I Am Belfast, and Paul Wright’s new film Arcadia, to be released in 2018. Their television output features programmes that tell rich stories to Scottish audiences about themselves.  Landmark series like Writing ScotlandScotland on Film, Watching Ourselves and Wha’s Like Us?  Coming Oot – a history of Gay Scotland.  Observational documentaries like Bothy Life, Showland and Controlled Abandon – which took us into the eccentric world of Scottish country dancing. And Greg Hemphill’s comedy/horror drama West Skerra Light. 

They also have an international focus. Recent network television includes Accidental Anarchist for BBC’s Storyville, nominated Best Feature Film in the Scottish BAFTA Awards, and Stop All the Clocks: W.H.Auden in an Age of Anxiety for BBC2. Their 2011 fifteen-hour  Mark Cousin’s film The Story of Film: An Odyssey is still selling around the world and is the definitive history of cinema They are currently in production on feature documentaries about South Africa and Scotland in the age of Apartheid, a history of state sanctioned torture, and a post-apocalyptic drama written and directed by Scottish artist Rachel Maclean.www.hopscotchfilms.co.uk

La Belle Allée Productions Limited is one of Scotland's leading film and television production companies, making high quality feature film, documentary and television drama for the domestic and international markets. Established in 2001, La Belle's feature films include Tinseltown, One Life Stand - winner of five new talent Baftas and a BIFA, and Valhalla Rising by Danish enfant terrible and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Shot entirely in Scotland, Valhalla Risingwas named by Total Film in 2010 as the "most significant co-production in recent history". Their most recent feature film is Seat in Shadow, directed by acclaimed artist-filmmaker Henry Coombes. La Belle Allée produces a diverse mixture of entertaining television content, from wedding-fashion focused Dress of Your Dreams to cherished children's comedy If You Can't Stand the Heatwww.labelleallee.com

Matchlight specializes in observational documentary, history, arts, current affairs and popular factual television. The company was established in 2009 and has since made over 100 hours of factual television for BBC One, ITV, BBC Two, BBC Alba, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Scotland, Channel 4 and Channel 5. In 2010, Matchlight's At Home with the Georgians was nominated in the History category in the Royal Television Society's Programme Awards. In 2012, Matchlight won a Scottish BAFTA award for Afghanistan: The Great Game - A Personal View by Rory Stewart (Best Factual Series). Matchlight's Ted Hughes: Stronger Than Death, directed by Richard Curson Smith, won the Best Arts Documentary at the 2016 Celtic Media Festival, the film was also nominated for a Grierson Award in 2016 and a British Academy Scotland (BAFTA) in the same year. Transplant Tales, produced by Matchlight in 2015, was nominated in the Factual Series category at the British Academy Scotland (BAFTA) Awards 2015 and the RTS Scotland Awards 2016. My Baby, Psychosis and Me co-produced by Matchlight and Sprout and directed by Rebecca Burrell won the Documentary prize at the Mind Media Awards 2016 and the RTS Scotland Award in 2017 for Documentary, Specialist Factual. Scotland and the Klan, presented by Neil Oliver, was nominated for a British Academy Scotland (BAFTA) award in 2017 and won the 2017 RTS Scotland Award for Best Documentary, History.www.matchlight.co.uk

Seventh Crow is a film production company specialising in short form drama content and feature film development. Alongside running a creative co-working space within their studio, Seventh Crow also offers production services for national and international productions for TV, online, and branded content – specifically across Germany, Spain, and Italy. To date Seventh Crow has received six BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards and Nominations, as well as a number of festival awards. Producer Bianca Herold has worked independently, and with the SFTN/Creative Scotland, supporting a variety of emerging directing talent on short films and web content; these include Pavel Shepan (Judas Goat, The Rat King), Tim Courtney (Sunsets and Silhouettes), Shaun Hughes (The Still Heart Bearing, No More Shall We Part), and Bita Shafipour (Last Night In Edinburgh). www.seventhcrow.co.uk

About the Business Advisors

Mike Kelly is a chartered accountant and NESTA creative business mentor. Kelly was part of the management team that transformed Thames Television into a successful content producer and distributor, and has advised clients such as Aardman Animations, Octopus Investments, and Film London.

Olsberg*SPI is a leading strategy consultancy for the creative industries, and has worked on company development and sustainability in the screen sector in the UK and around the world. In 2012, the firm published Building sustainable film businesses: the challenges for industry and government. Leon Forde will be the lead consultant for FOCUS, with input from Jonathan Olsberg, Andrew Barnes and Aidan O’Hare.

Jen Topping is an independent consultant specialising in strategy and management of digital content propositions for traditional media businesses. She spent seven years at Channel 4 in a range of senior roles including managing channel4.com and was part of the launch team for 4oD. Topping was also EVP of Digital for Beano Studios, and worked at director level for the studio creating interactive TV experiences for Xbox.

About the Partners

Film City Glasgow has firmly established itself as the heart and soul of Scotland’s film and television industry. The facility comprises of over 12,000 sq. ft. of production office space, a 5,000 sq. ft. studio/build space, workshop areas, rehearsal/meeting rooms, café, and 10,000 sq. ft. of creative business offices, now home to over 25 permanent tenants from the screen and wider creative industries.  Film City Futures is a charitable subsidiary of Film City Glasgow. Its mission is to connect people, space and opportunity, enabling access and entry to the screen industries for all - acting as a catalyst for participation, learning, and innovation. A year-round programme of activities allows Film City Futures to offer a range of opportunities whilst identifying uniquely talented individuals. www.filmcityglasgow.com

Scottish Documentary Institute has produced over a hundred films, screening in sixty countries worldwide, garnering international recognition as being at the cutting edge of the documentary sector. Bridging art and industry, SDI is committed to supporting authored films driven by content and emotional experience.  SDI comprises two entities, SDI Outreach and SDI Productions. SDI Outreach is a non-profit organisation, delivering a ladder of development opportunities to benefit all Scottish filmmakers and producers, in addition to running Scottish delegations, in collaboration with Creative Scotland. www.scottishdocinstitute.com

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Our role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. We support ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and help build Scotland’s globally competitive sectors. We also work with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment. www.scottish-enterprise.com.