NFTS Expands Presence In Scotland And Launches The 'Sean Connery Talent Lab' To Nurture Emerging Scottish Filmmakers

With generous support from the Sean Connery Foundation and a wide range of industry partners, the National Film and Television School expands its footprint outside of Glasgow, with a permanent new base within Edinburgh’s FirstStage Studios

Open call for ‘on the cusp’ Scottish writers/directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and production designers to join 12-month Sean Connery Talent Lab

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is proud to announce the expansion of NFTS Scotland, launching an open call to join an exciting new training programme for 30 emerging Scottish filmmakers from April 2024, through the newly established Sean Connery Talent Lab.

With an unwavering commitment to fostering exceptional talent in the world of filmmaking, the NFTS has partnered with the Sean Connery Foundation to provide a platform for Scottish artists to hone and develop their craft and increase the scale and ambition of their work.

group of people stood in front of led wall with sean connery talent lab and image of sean connery

Pictured L-R: Director of the NFTS Jon Wardle, Jason Connery, Jason’s partner Fiona, Holly Gordon, Founding Executive Director of the Sean Connery Foundation, Stephane Connery, Stephane’s partner Tania and head of NFTS Scotland, Alison Goring

To ensure the programme is as accessible to as many people as possible, each of the 30 places will be substantially subsidised, with 70% of fees generously underwritten by the Sean Connery Foundation.

The Sean Connery Talent Lab is supported by a wide range of industry partners, trusts and foundations who have pledged their support to underpin the programme with additional funding, bursaries and scholarships. BBC Film is the production partner with several other partners joining the Talent Lab including: The Dana and Albert Broccoli Foundation, FirstStage Studios, Blazing Griffin, DNA Films, Hartswood Films, Juniper Trust, LS Productions, the Rank Foundation and Synchronicity Films.

This new and transformative 12-month talent development programme is set to become a cornerstone of the Scottish film industry. It will offer a unique opportunity to enable 30 aspiring filmmakers across five disciplines (writers/directors, producers, cinematographers, editors and production designers) to bring to life their own unique short films, made with the support of BBC Film.

Located in Leith, Edinburgh, within an expanding creative quarter under development by FirstStage Studios in partnership with Forth Ports and others, the selected participants from across Scotland will embark on a collaborative filmmaking journey beginning in April 2024. Six dynamic filmmaking teams will be assembled, gaining access to a first-class training curriculum, made up of seminars, hands-on workshops and mentorship opportunities. Dedicated guidance from renowned NFTS Heads of Department and prominent industry executives, including BBC Film, will enrich and enhance the development and post-production process.

sean connery talent lab graphic with highlighted details from webpage and black and white image of sean connery

Each team will receive a £25,000 production budget, with free access to cutting-edge equipment and unrivalled training facilities provided by the NFTS. The tailor-made programme is designed to further amplify the expertise of each participant in their respective craft specialism, allowing them to refine their skills and push the boundaries of creativity.

The programme is designed to be part-time, enabling participants to strike a balance between other paid work and professional engagements. Aligned with the unwavering commitment of the NFTS to promoting diversity within the industry, the Sean Connery Talent Lab is dedicated to offering a supportive and inclusive experience for disabled and neuro-divergent individuals, including those with conditions such as dyslexia, a cause close to the heart of the Sean Connery Foundation.

After 12 intensive months, the Sean Connery Talent Lab will culminate in the creation of six short films that will serve as powerful industry ‘calling cards’, offering an invaluable launchpad for the 30 talented individuals to make their mark on the world of film. The final films will be submitted for both UK and international film festivals and will premiere at a prestigious showcase event, with industry figures from across Scotland, the UK and beyond invited to attend the screenings. Upon successful completion of the programme, participants will be awarded an NFTS Diploma in Filmmaking.

Jon Wardle, NFTS Director said: "This is an exceptional opportunity for emerging Scottish filmmakers to build upon their distinctive creative talents. As we expand our work in Scotland, the NFTS, the Sean Connery Foundation and our raft of pivotal partners are dedicated to nurturing the brightest emerging stars within Scottish filmmaking, ensuring that the legacy of Sir Sean Connery continues to inspire future generations of storytellers."

Stephane Connery, Chair of The Sean Connery Foundation added: “From the inception of the Sean Connery Foundation, our vision has been to expand access to the film and TV industry for talented Scots who may never have dreamt they could access the film industry, especially those who have faced challenges or deprivation. As a life-long learner himself, and someone driven by a commitment to hard work and excellence, Sir Sean would be gratified that we have partnered with the NFTS, a world-renowned film school, to bring this extraordinary training programme to Edinburgh, the city of his birth. We believe this is just the beginning of an exciting journey together.”

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation, Jason Connery commented: “As a director and actor, I know the difference world-class training combined with a network of support can make in terms of building confidence and opening up opportunity. I couldn’t be happier that through this programme, we are bringing both to Scotland. Dad always believed that education was a vital investment for anyone to achieve their full potential, and so supporting a programme that will enable emerging Scottish filmmakers to realise their own unique vision and hone their particular talent within a collaborative environment, with a view to benefitting the wider Scottish film industry, is a dream come true.”

Isabel Davis, Executive Director at Screen Scotland said: “The filmmaking landscape has changed significantly over the last five years, with Scotland’s creative and economic growth now well recognised. The generosity and vision of the Sean Connery Foundation enables the NFTS to broaden its existing programme, provided with Screen Scotland’s support. We warmly thank the programme partners who, through their generous support and commitment to excellence, have joined the Sean Connery Foundation in recognising the wealth of talent in Scotland’s film community.”

Applications for the Sean Connery Talent Lab are now open until midnight on Monday 29th January 2024.

For more information on how to apply and for eligibility criteria, go to:

Up Next