sean connery in a suit leaning on car with mountains in background

Sean Connery Talent Lab

Sean Connery Talent Lab


This new and transformative 12-month talent development programme is set to become a cornerstone of the Scottish film industry.

If you are a Scottish or UK National and an emerging writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor or production designer, apply now to join our year-long training programme, where you'll further your craft at a prime studio location in Edinburgh and increase the scale and ambition of your work.

The Sean Connery Talent Lab is generously supported by a wide range of industry partners, trusts and foundations.

Stephane Connery, pictured far right, with family at NFTS
Sean Connery Foundation with Jon Wardle and Alison Goring

"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.”

Stephane Connery
Chair of The Sean Connery Foundation (pictured far right)

"Dad always believed that education was a vital investment for anyone to achieve their full potential".

Jason Connery
Speaking on behalf of the Sean Connery Foundation (pictured 3rd from right)

With a focus on attracting and nurturing outstanding talent, the National Film and Television School (NFTS) and the Sean Connery Foundation are looking for thirty filmmakers (Writer/Directors, Producers, Cinematographers, Editors and Production Designers) to participate in an intensive talent development programme.

The Sean Connery Talent Lab, delivered by the NFTS, aims to support filmmakers with diverse and varied perspectives to take their work to the next level. Through a year-long programme, participants will ‘graduate’ with a short film that will be showcased to the industry.

From the participants in the talent lab we will form six filmmaking teams who will benefit from a first class NFTS training programme comprising seminars, workshops and individual tutoring aimed to elevate the participants’ craft specialism.  Each team will receive a £25,000 production budget, with access to equipment and facilities provided for free by the NFTS. On successful completion of the programme, participants will be awarded an NFTS Diploma in Filmmaking.

This is not a short film fund, it is an opportunity for emerging, distinctive and original filmmakers to build on their strengths and increase the scale and ambition of their work through a structured programme.


The Talent Lab is supported by a wide range of industry partners, trusts and foundations.

BBC Film and the Dana and Albert Broccoli Foundation are anchor partners in the Talent Lab, pledging significant support to underpin the programme. A number of other partners including FirstStage Studios, Blazing Griffin, DNA Films, Hartswood Films, Juniper Trust, LS Productions, the Rank Foundation, and Synchronicity Films have pledged their valuable support to provide ongoing Scholarships and Bursaries to ensure the lab is open to all.

Content Tabs

The Sean Connery Talent Lab is a 12-month programme and will include the following (please note that timeframes and programme parameters are subject to change):

  • Story and script development seminars and professional development classes delivered part-time by the NFTS over a three-month period, specifically designed to strengthen your professional and storytelling skills. These workshops will be scheduled around the existing commitments of participants.
  • Intensive, specialist-taught workshops designed to elevate the participants’ craft, both in terms of creative expression and technical expertise. The tuition will be delivered in intensive multiple-day blocks and participants will be given as much prior notice of the dates as possible.
  • An opportunity to work with other participants of the Talent Lab to make one of the Lab’s six short films. The films will be shot on a staggered production schedule, which will include: up to eight weeks of pre-production, a 4 or 5-day shoot (staggered schedule for all six projects), and up to twelve weeks of post-production for each of the six teams. Each film will have a cash budget of £25,000 and extensive equipment and some facilities support from the NFTS. All films are made with the financial and creative support of BBC Film.
  • The input of experienced NFTS Heads of Department and other industry executives, who will enrich and support the development and post-production process.
  • Participants will also benefit from being part of the NFTS more broadly, joining a lively digital community where students and staff share resources, connect across disciplines and where exclusive masterclasses with filmmakers are shared. Students will also benefit from our industry partnerships, gaining access to a wide range of professional digital tools and services.
  • Be awarded an NFTS Diploma in Filmmaking on successful completion of the programme. 

The programme is designed to be part-time so that participants can balance programme activity with other paid work and professional engagements. Programme schedules will be published well in advance to ensure students can plan their involvement in the programme. Participants will be expected to fully engage with the taught programme and the production process.


The Sean Connery Talent Lab will be located in Leith, Edinburgh, within an expanding creative quarter under development by FirstStage Studios in partnership with Forth Ports and others.

With 8.9 acres of stages, offices, workshops and hardstanding, FirstStage Studios is a new, leading production facility in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the closing date for applications?

Monday 29th January 2024

The website says you welcome applications from under-represented groups. What does that mean?

The under-represented groups we look at primarily relate to the protected characteristics as defined in the UK Equality Act 2010.

You should use the following list as a guide for what areas of under-representation we are seeking to address:

  • Age
  • Disability 
  • Neuro Diversity (including Dyslexia)
  • Gender reassignment
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Care-Experienced

In addition to the protected characteristics recognised by the Act, the NFTS also seeks to address under-representation in the following areas:

  • Regional participation
  • Socio-economic inclusion
  • Caring responsibilities
If applying as a writer and director team, do we need to have worked with each other before?

No, but your partnership needs to be convincing. We have to believe you will be able to work together successfully and collaborate for the length of the Talent Lab and hopefully beyond.

What happens if I apply after the deadline has closed?

Your application will not be considered.

Can I continue with my existing employment and participate in the Talent Lab?

Yes, however, this is a rigorous programme and you must participate in ALL of the required activities – no exceptions. You must be available to commit full-time to the programme during the final stages of pre-production and the period of principal photography, some of which will take place Monday through Friday.

Can I apply if I am outside the UK?

No, you must be physically present in the United Kingdom to apply.

Will the NFTS pay my travel, housing and transportation costs during the programme?

No, the NFTS will not provide travel, housing and transportation arrangements during the programme. It is possible to participate in the programme from anywhere in Scotland. For those not based in the central belt, travel grants will be available. We are particularly keen to receive applications from filmmakers from the Highland and Islands and will provide support with out-of-pocket expenses to make it possible to participate in the programme.

Who owns the film once produced?

The NFTS and BBC Film will own the finished film and manage the film’s distribution. You will be asked to sign an IP agreement on being awarded a place on the Lab.