We’re thrilled to announce the participants taking part in Convergence 2023 – our programme for aspiring screenwriters.

L-R Top Row: Holly Barbour, Lila Clements, Matthew McVarish, Meghan Tyler
L-R Bottom Row: Niamh Hargan, Noor Abdel-Razik, Ross MacKay, Steven Fraser

In November 2022 we invited submissions from Scotland-based professional writers, filmmakers and creative practitioners, currently working in other fields, who were interested in moving into writing for screen.

After an assessment and selection process – carried out by external assessors, the Short Circuit team and course leader David Pope – eight participants were chosen to take part in Convergence and learn the fundamentals of screenwriting shorts and feature films.

The selected participants are:

  • Holly Barbour
  • Lila Clements
  • Matthew McVarish
  • Meghan Tyler
  • Niamh Hargan
  • Noor Abdel-Razik
  • Ross MacKay
  • Steven Fraser

Find out more about the participants and what they’re most looking forward to about the programme:

Holly Barbour

Holly is a Scottish actress/writer from North-East Fife predominantly working in theatre with Scrawny Cat Theatre Company. She has just been longlisted for Bold Elephant Playwrights and an extract of her play Shrapnel is due to be performed at the Old Red Lion Theatre in January. During lockdown in 2020, she wrote a pilot and treatment for a 6-part comedy/drama set in Glasgow and the Scottish Islands. This brought her to the attention of some of Scotland’s leading production companies. Holly is committed to platforming regional voices and particularly enjoys walking the tightrope between darkness and humour in her writing.   

I am honoured and delighted to have been accepted for the 2023 cohort of the Convergence programme. I know alumni from previous programmes and they have all recommended it without reservation. Writing in isolation during lockdown often felt very lonely so I am excited and energised at the prospect of connecting with everyone on the 2023 cohort. I know I will be inspired by this breadth of talent drawn from across Scotland.

Lila Clements

Lila is an actor, writer and producer from Dundee. As an actor, her work has spun across stage, screen and audio, with credits for BBC, Sky, Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre Scotland, Shakespeare’s Globe, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Audible. Her debut play as actor and writer, Look, No Hands was the recipient of the National Partnership Award 2021 and completed successful run at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2022 (★★★★ The Scotsman “a rich tale on two wheels as a metaphor for personal growth and discovery”, ★★★★ Pick of the Fringe 2022, Mervyn Stutter)

I am thrilled to have been selected as part of the 2023 Convergence cohort with Short Circuit. Coming predominantly from a theatre background, I am looking forward to exploring new creative territory by developing my screenwriting ideas, skills and industry knowledge, while being supported through writing my first screenplay.

Matthew McVarish

Matthew McVarish is an actor and playwright with an MA from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Performing in theatre and television since 2005, he has appeared in TaggartRiver City and starred as Raymond on CBeebies show Me Too!. He began writing in 2007, his debut play, To Kill a Kelpie, ran off-Broadway and a new translation is currently touring France.  At present, Matthew is writing Quietus, the final part of his trilogy for Oran Mor, and his first television commission for BBC’s River City. Also a human rights activist, Matthew’s book The Truth That No One Tells Teenagers is highly recommended by child psychologists. 

“I’m just so thrilled to be selected for Convergence, and deeply relieved to finally access some professional training. I’ve been pretending to know what I’m doing for years, thanks to free YouTube tutorials…”

Meghan Tyler

“Irrepressible, Glasgow-based, Irish theatre minx” Meghan Tyler is an award-winning playwright and actor from Newry. Their play Crocodile Fever stormed the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Traverse Theatre in 2019, and recently won the prestigious Stewart Parker Award. They have won the Channel 4 Playwrights Bursary, the New Playwrights Award with Playwrights’ Studio Scotland, and were a member of the New Playwrights Programme at the Lyric Theatre. Their first play Nothing to Be Done received the MARTA Award for Best Script, “representing artistic hope for the future”.

“Well, consensually smack my arse and call me Giddy. I am over the moon to be selected for Convergence 2023 alongside such a fierce gang of storytellers who are willing to learn, grow, and take over the world. As a longterm spouse of theatreland, there have been bombastic stories for screen wildly oscillating in my head with no way of escaping – as we take the step into polyamory, I am hungry for the knowledge, tools, and support that Convergence will provide to let these stories live and breathe.”

Niamh Hargan

Niamh Hargan is a film and TV lawyer by day, and a writer by night. Her first novel, Twelve Days In May, was published by HarperFiction in 2022 and her second, The Break-Up Clause, is forthcoming in 2023. Born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland, Niamh is currently based in Edinburgh.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of Convergence 2023. Having pitched both a short and feature film as part of the selection process, it’s a real vote of confidence for me, and I can’t wait to figure out the best way to tell these stories on screen. In addition to the mentorship of industry experts within the programme, I’m particularly looking forward to connecting with and learning from other emerging screenwriters here in Scotland.

Noor Abdel-Razik

Noor Abdel-Razik is a Scottish/Sudanese, Glasgow-based, self-shooting documentary filmmaker with an MA in Film and Politics and an MSc in International Journalism who works in unscripted television. Holding credits with the BBC, Channel 4, Paramount+ and NBC, she began her career beating thousands of applicants to gain a place on the coveted Channel 4 Production Training Scheme. Noor’s films do not shy away from holding power to account and she has gone so far to defend one in court, in addition to empowering survivors of sexual assault, bereaved families and those with eating disorders to tell their stories.

“I am ecstatic to be a part of Convergence! I have had so many ideas for films sloshing around in my head for years and am glad to finally have a vessel to pour them into. I am also particularly excited to meet other like-minded creatives!

Ross MacKay

Ross MacKay was the recipient of the William Soutar Award for Poetry 2020.  His debut novel and picture book were released in 2022 in both the UK and USA.  His plays have been performed across Scotland, and his adaptation of Treasure Island premiered in Cumbernauld this Winter. Ross previously worked in theatre as the artistic director of Tortoise in a Nutshell. His productions toured across the world. His shows have received numerous prestigious awards including a Scotsman Fringe First for New Writing and a Critic’s Pick from The New York Times.

“I am over-the-moon thrilled to be part of Convergence. Previous participants speak so highly about the programme. I cannot wait to get going. I am really looking forward to connecting with other writers who share my passion for film.”

Steven Fraser

I am an artist and writer who creates short animated documentaries, comics, zines and performance based work. My animated documentaries Prosopagnosia, What It Feels Like and Dix Pix have screened at many international festivals and won several awards. Prosopagnosia was selected to screen as part of the New York Times Op-Docs series and my most recent film Coming Out Autistic is currently screening at international festivals. I create personal work that draws on my own experiences to tell powerful stories that explore mental health, identity and neurodiversity. This personal approach gives my art a unique, authentic and distinctive perspective.

As an autistic animator and writer I receive very little understanding from the film industry in Scotland and I am exhausted in experiencing prejudices. I am taking part in Convergence to pass the knowledge I acquire during the scheme onto my community. In my experience the film industry and arts in Scotland appear to have no interest in engaging disabled filmmakers or artists in a meaningful way.

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We are pleased to announce the inaugural Scottish Delegation to Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute.

Six filmmakers have been selected to join the Scottish Delegation going to Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2023, in partnership with Scottish Documentary Institute. This opportunity was open to filmmakers that have taken part in our Sharp Shorts programme or SDI’s Bridging the Gap programme and are currently working on a short film project (in development, production, post-production or distribution).

The selected filmmakers will attend the Short Film Market in Clermont-Ferrand, which is the leading industry event for short films in the world. Between 30th January-3rd February the market brings together 3,600+ accredited visitors yearly from over 80 countries who get access to a catalogue of 7,500 recent titles.

The Market combines physical and digital components to address the needs of the industry, from production to promotion and distribution, in an open, inclusive and responsible environment.  It is the main marketplace for sales, acquisitions and licensing of short films with opportunities on the French, European and international markets. Its ambitious industry programme fosters creativity, co-production and the circulation of works.

Meet the delegates

From Scottish Documentary Institute:

Erica Monde

Erica is a documentary director based in Glasgow. She was recently commissioned by SDI and Screen Scotland through the Bridging the Gap scheme for her film There’s Not Much We Can Do, which premiered at Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2022. She is co-founder of IMPRINT Documentary Collective and an alumna of the Locarno Industry Academy. She is currently completing her next documentary short, i was born in the month of the moon (what my body told me).

Riad Arfin

I am Riad Arfin, originally from Bangladesh and now based in Scotland. Through films I try to understand the world, different cultures, surroundings and myself. I am currently developing a creative documentary with Scottish documentary Institute. As a filmmaker I tell stories that would play an important role to inspire change.

Steven Fraser

My short animated documentaries Prosopagnosia, What It Feels LikeDix Pix and Coming Out Autistic have screened at many international festivals and won several awards. I create personal work that draws on my own experiences to tell unique, authentic and powerful stories that explore mental health, identity and neurodiversity.

From Short Circuit:

Debora Bottino

Debora is a Less is More and EIFF Talent Lab alumni. Her short I Should Have Loved A Thunderbird Instead (2019) was acquired by Film Movement after gaining BAFTA-qualifying status. Debora was shortlisted for the 2021 Sundance Episodic Lab, Merky Books Award (Penguin House) and Sharp Shorts Funding Scheme, through which she is currently developing You Land.

Holly Summerson

Holly Summerson is an animator and director who specialises in hand-drawn, mixed media and experimental styles. Her work often explores themes of identity, transformation, and under-represented perspectives. She is currently working on Living With It – a dark comedy short about accepting disability, supported by Sharp Shorts.

Razan Madhoon

Razan Madhoon is a Palestinian writer/director from Gaza based in Scotland. She has a degree in Journalism and experience presenting on Palestinian TV. Razan holds an MA in Film Directing from Edinburgh Napier University (UK). In 2019, Razan started developing the feature, The Good Spirit, with the support of BellRock Screenwriting Residency, funded by Creative Scotland, and took part in CineMart at Rotterdam Film Festival to pitch her script to producers. She also took part in BellRock’s directing workshop led by Guyla Gazdag, Head of Sundance Directors’ Lab. Same year, Razan’s feature script Flowers was also shortlisted for Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Last year, Razan wrote/directed her short film, Go Home, supported by Short Circuit program, funded by Screen Scotland and BFI which screened in over 20 festivals in 9 different countries. This year, Razan started working for the BBC Studios as a TV director on the Scottish series, River City.

We’ll be posting updates from Clermont-Ferrand International Film Festival between 30th January-3rd February 2023.  Make sure to connect with us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.