The silhouette of an audience watching a large screen showing the editing timeline for a film. A woman holds a gun in the top right corner of the screen.

Scottish festivals giving opportunities to young filmmakers

Scotland is bursting with gifted young filmmakers and independent exhibitors can play an important role in nurturing their talent.

One challenge for budding filmmakers can be identifying routes to improve their skills and potentially advance their careers. For some, it’s about finding that first opportunity to get behind a camera and learn techniques from an expert. Others may already have developed their filmmaking abilities to a high level and shot some low budget shorts, but the step up to better-funded productions with increased exposure then seems insurmountable. In recent years, several Film Hub Scotland members have sought to help young people overcome this barrier by providing a range of training, networking and showcase opportunities. There’s still work to be done to strengthen and more clearly signpost pathways into the industry, but it’s been heartening to see the emergence of new platforms both for promoting young talent and, more broadly, introducing young people to the life enriching process of filmmaking.

March will see the third edition of the Young Scottish Filmmaker Prize (YSFP), delivered by GFT and Eden Court in partnership with Glasgow Short Film Festival. Supported by the BFI Film Academy (awarding funds from the National Lottery) and in association with BFI Film Academy SCENE, the prize is delivered in consultation with Short Circuit and GMAC Film. We’ll be reporting on the competition after winners are announced. In the meantime, we’re highlighting three other festivals delivered by FHS members in the second half of last year, aimed at emerging filmmakers at various stages in their journey. Although these festivals feature competition elements, as important is the opportunity to build community and introduce participants to likeminded creatives.

The Scottish Youth Film Foundation (SYFF) places education and outreach at the heart of what it does. Its annual Festival is aimed at those just starting out – there’s an Under 12s category and a 13 – 19 category. For those with rather more experience, the Ayr Student Film Festival (ASFF) offers a public showcase opportunity for students at the University of the West of Scotland. And finally, the St. Andrew’s Film Festival (SAFF) serves as a “charitable platform for self-expression and filmmaking education”. It offers introductory filmmaking sessions while also championing films from emerging Scottish filmmakers. As festival co-founder Boris Bosilkov told us, the festival programme places these fresh Scottish voices in conversation with exciting international talent to create an ‘expressive mosaic of shared human experience’. Many thanks to Boris and also Heather Bowry (General Manager of SYFF) and Chris Kelly (President of ASFF) for providing us with the following write ups on their activities.

A clapper board with the title, "Scottish Youth Film Festival - That's a Wrap!" Behind it, a purple and green flyer for the festival.Scottish Youth Film Festival

The 9th Annual Scottish Youth Film Festival took place in Perth on 30 September 2023.

260 young people joined us for an inspiring day of workshops, discussions and screenings with guests from across the world of Film and TV including Directors Raisah Ahmed and Andrew Cumming, SYFF patrons Sara Vickers and Andy Rothney and many, many more.

We had practical demos of sound effects from Krotos, animation Director Will Adams of Wild Child talking about his work and hands-on sessions on special effects, scriptwriting and animation as well as an all-day acting workshop.

This annual Awards show was our best year, with a superb array of shortlisted films from across Scotland and all of the winners in the room to receive their trophies.

We have exciting plans in the works for 2024 and will be opening for film competition submissions shortly, so keep an eye on our social media! 

– Heather Bowry

A middle aged man, Gary Hewitt, addresses the audience in Ayr Town Hall. Banners to his right for Ayr Film Society and the Ayr Student Film Festival.Ayr Student Film Festival

On 30 September 2023 we held the second annual Ayr Student Film Festival. This is an event arranged by myself and fellow UWS students to provide a platform for emerging filmmaking talent amongst our peers. We were delighted to see that attendance was up almost 20% from last year’s event, and we received tremendous feedback with over 90% saying they would recommend the festival to others for future editions.

Highlights from the day included our guest speaker, Gary J Hewitt, talking about the global film festival landscape, and the crew of each selected film taking part in a Q&A session, providing us with insight into how their films were made. The audience were treated to the screening of six short films, and our panel of judges selected the documentary “Pits” as the eventual grand prize winner.

We would like to thank all filmmakers who submitted to the event, our host and panel, and to everyone who attended and helped make it a magical day for all our student filmmakers.

Building upon the success of this event, the student society will be aiming to host some smaller events throughout 2024 in the run-up to the next Ayr Student Film Festival, so we would encourage you to check our social media and website via for updates.

– Chris Kelly

Two young men in conversation, sitting beneath a large projection featuring the words, "The St. Andrews Film Festival"

St. Andrew’s Film Festival

The St Andrews Film Festival (SAFF), founded in 2018 by Boris Bosilkov and Mina Radović, seeks to showcase Scottish films internationally while bringing international cinema to Fife. The festival also strives to educate young people in the art of filmmaking through workshops and masterclasses. SAFF takes place the last weekend of November, typically around St Andrews Day.

The Official Selection, available year-round on our online platform in addition to the physical festival screenings, includes Scottish and international films. Festival screenings are accompanied by Q&A sessions with filmmakers, providing insights into the challenges overcome during the filmmaking process. By connecting filmmakers, SAFF bridges the gap between different film cultures and expertise levels, fostering knowledge exchange in a supportive environment.

There is a jury award for Best Scottish Film, and local talent is further encouraged through 5 Rising Voices awards. SAFF2023 also celebrated international talent, including the film Until Tomorrow, which highlights the challenges faced by Fereshteh, a young woman in Tehran, as she juggles studying, working, and caring for her secret two-month-old baby. Meanwhile, our Zagreb School Award for Best Animation was presented to the short film Eeva, which also played at the 2023 Berlinale and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. This black comedy draws us into a darkly atmospheric world brightened by the humour of the protagonist, a grieving woman.

Our annual education program, offers introductory masterclasses in writing, directing, cinematography, and editing. In 2023, SAFF partnered with NFTS (Scotland) and Raindance Film Festival, featuring talks by Alison Goring, Simon Vickery, Elliot Grove, Suzanne Ballantyne, and Simon Hunter.

In November 2023, SAFF launched an online platform where festival films can be viewed, aiming to support the future projects of talented filmmakers. And starting this year, a monthly subscription model will be introduced to provide royalties to filmmakers for their future projects and support monthly screenings of new Scottish films.

– Boris Bosilkov