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Northern Ireland Screen’s New Writer Focus scheme now open

Date Posted: May 15, 2024

Calling all Northern Ireland writers: could you be the next big thing?

Would you like to see your words come alive on the big screen? Have you written a script that’s ready to go?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then Northern Ireland Screen’s New Writer Focus (NWF) scheme 2024-2025 could be for you.

The call comes as local writer Mark McNally’s film, The Land of Saints and Sinners, appeared on Netflix, to critical acclaim.

Mark is the most recent NWF recipient and Northern Ireland Screen is on the lookout for other talent from these shores.

The scheme, which is now seeking scripts to develop, is only open to Northern Ireland resident writers new to feature film.

For the avoidance of doubt, ‘writers new to feature film’ in this context means a writer without a writing credit on a produced feature film.

To help writers prepare their application, Northern Ireland Screen has asked Steve Brookes to host a webinar at lunchtime on May 29 for two hours to support those who wish to apply for NWF. Find out more and sign up here. 

There will be a brief introduction to the scheme, with a Q&A opportunity, followed by a presentation, which will last around two hours. This will focus on the important theme of screenwriters getting into the professional habit of writing for readers, not just for themselves.

Mr Brookes is a freelance script consultant whose career has focused on working on British independent feature films. He worked for the British Film Institute for many years and has had a long association with Northern Ireland Screen.

Ursula Devine, Development Executive at Northern Ireland Screen, said this was a great opportunity for aspiring screenwriters.

“The NWF scheme is your chance to develop your script and bring it to the attention of industry professionals,” she said.

“Whether you’re an emerging voice or a seasoned writer venturing into feature films for the first time, NWF provides an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Mark McNally, Susie Farrell, Tess McGowan and Colum Eastwood.”

The latest film to emerge from this partnership was The Last Rifleman, written by New Writer Focus screenwriter, Kevin Fitzpatrick, directed by Terry Loane and starring Pierce Brosnan.

Northern Ireland Screen has said it is looking for compelling stories with a unique or fresh perspective, ambitious authored voices and stories with strong character journeys, as well as a range of art-house and commercial stories.

The New Writer Focus scheme comprises three major components, namely a Writers Room, with monthly meetings, individual project and writer development, and development seminars and networking opportunities.

Up to four scripts will be chosen for development between September 2024 and April 2025

Writers can only make one project application.

If you’d like to apply, you’ll need a first draft completed script of the project you wish to develop through the scheme, as well a one-page synopsis of your story.

Applicants must put their name, project title, and contact information on their script and one-pager. Projects should be saved by project title and writer name.

The scheme is open to NI resident writers who not have not yet had a produced feature film and writers who have not already completed NWF. Writing teams of up to two writers can also submit a joint application.

The selected writers will be eligible to apply for an individual writer award.

The closing date for applications is midnight, Sunday, June 23, 2024.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of August.


Find out more.

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