The National Film and Television School and the Sean Connery Foundation have announced the first intake of 26 emerging filmmakers who will join the Sean Connery Talent Lab, set to begin later this month in Leith, Edinburgh.

The Talent Lab has also signed up Prime Video as its newest collaborator.

Prime Video’s contribution will form part of Prime Video Pathway, the training initiative set up by the streamer to open up access to jobs in the TV and film industry across the UK. This marks the expansion of a successful collaboration between Prime Video and the NFTS, running alongside other initiatives delivered by the two organisations, such as the Prime Video Craft Academy.

The Sean Connery Talent Lab is led by Scottish film producer Chris Young (The Inbetweeners), founder of  Young Films.

Following an extensive search for the most promising on the rise creative talent across Scotland and the UK, the final 26 participants were selected from hundreds of applicants, with each showcasing a range of skills across writing, directing, producing, cinematography and editing disciplines.

Introducing the Sean Connery Talent Lab Participants:
1. Alex Salam
2. Cat MacLeod & Lana Phuetan
3. Josefa Celestin
4. Mairead Hamilton
5. Miranda Stern
6. Ryan Pollock
“To get the chance to bring my short film to life with the support of the Sean Connery Talent Lab is mind-bogglingly thrilling. I hope to come away from the experience a stronger storyteller with a few more industry connections and to have found like-minded creatives with whom I will continue to collaborate long into the future.” Writer/Director Mairead Hamilton

1. Carys Evans
2. Isabella Bassett
3. Katie Mallinder
4. Katriona Tweedie
5. Kitty McMurdo-Schad
6. Saffia Sage
7. Steven Jeram
“It feels like a full circle moment to have such an icon of Scottish history – Sir Sean Connery – leaving a legacy that I am now a part of. I can’t wait to see how this bolsters Scottish talent and look forward to working with the rest of the cohort on what will undoubtedly be a strong selection of films!” Producer Kitty McMurdo-Schad

1. Alyson Thompson
2. Fiann McLeod
3. Iona Ward
4. Matt Mead
5. Simon Williamson
6. Vasileios Kapnis
“I believe the Sean Connery Talent Lab will accelerate my career as a cinematographer. The opportunity to train on state-of-the-art equipment, collaborate with other up-and-coming filmmakers, and shoot a short film in gorgeous Scotland will be the catalyst I need to propel myself to a more professional level. This experience will mark a major turning point for me.” Cinematographer Alyson Thompson

1. CJ Lazaretti
2. Fraser Ballantyne
3. Jonathan Ley
4. Lu Kemp
5. Roddy McDonald
6. Sam J Thomson
“I am thrilled to be part of a new cohort, and to collaborate with my colleagues to produce an ambitious body of new work which I hope will magnify the energy and force of Scottish film talent.”
Editor Lu Kemp

The Sean Connery Talent Lab offers a curriculum that includes hands-on training, mentorship by industry professionals and collaborative projects. Participants will develop their skills, culminating in the creation of six short films, working to a budget of £25,000 per project.

With the support of Prime Video and inaugural supporters BBC Film, the Dana and Albert Broccoli Foundation, FirstStage Studios, Blazing Griffin, DNA Films, Hartswood Films, Juniper Trust, LS Productions, the Rank Foundation and Synchronicity Films, the projects are set to serve as significant calling cards for the participants, showcasing their talents at film festivals and industry events worldwide.

The Sean Connery Talent Lab is noteworthy for its accessibility, with the Sean Connery Foundation underwriting 70% of the fees for each participant.

Jon Wardle, Director of the NFTS commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Prime Video to the Sean Connery Talent Lab. Under the leadership of Chris Young, the Lab embodies our shared commitment to nurturing emerging talent across the UK. We are excited to explore the innovative perspectives and contributions these filmmakers will make to the industry, both within Scotland and on the international stage.”

Chris Young, Head of the Sean Connery Talent Lab shared his enthusiasm, saying: “The addition of Prime Video as our newest collaborator highlights the broad industry support for the Sean Connery Talent Lab. Their involvement, along with our other partners and supporters, underscores a collective commitment to fostering a new generation of filmmakers. I am beyond excited to embark on this journey with our newly selected participants. Together, we’re not just kicking off a new programme; we’re launching careers and redefining what’s possible for filmmakers across Scotland and the UK.”

Stephane Connery, Chair of the Sean Connery Foundation said: “We are so pleased that Prime Video has joined the extraordinary cohort of committed organisations supporting the Sean Connery Talent Lab and we congratulate the first cohort of students on their admission. In establishing the Lab, we hope not only to honour Sir Sean’s Scottish roots, but also to expand the opportunities for employment, both above and below the line, by strengthening Scotland’s reputation as a pivotal destination for film and TV production.”

Jason Connery, Ambassador for the Sean Connery Foundation added: “Scotland’s rich heritage, versatile landscapes and dynamic talent have long contributed to its cinematic success, paving the way for ground-breaking storytelling. We are so looking forward to getting to know this talented cohort of filmmakers and are excited to see the stories they create over the course of the next year, inspired by their world-class instructors, their surroundings, and each other.”

Pippa Considine

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