We’re thrilled to announce that six exceptional projects have been selected to receive development funding through our First Features scheme.

Top Row L-R:  Emma Ramsay, James Ley and Maryam Hamidi
Bottom Row L-R:  Raisah Ahmed, Stef Smith and Tena Štivičić

The First Features scheme is for writing, writing/directing and producing talent from all across Scotland who have bold and captivating fiction projects that possess a strong theatrical ambition and have the potential to resonate with audiences worldwide.

For this round, we received 64 eligible applications that were initially assessed by our pool of external readers. Following an extensive assessment process involving Screen Scotland’s Scripted team and the Short Circuit Talent Executives 6 projects have been selected by to receive development support and funding. 

Now, without further ado, let’s meet the talented filmmakers and their exciting projects that are set to leave an indelible mark on Scotland’s screen sector:


Writer: Tena Štivičić; Director: Sam Hodges

Synopsis: A celebrated choreographer runs a dance company with his wife, a former dancer now business partner. In the twilight of their careers they face the changing tide of opinion towards questions of power, loyalty and artistic discipline.


Writer/Director: Maryam Hamidi; Producers: Alysia Maciejowska and Shirine Best

Synopsis: Part possession horror, part comedy-drama, a genre bending story about inherited trauma. When Iranian immigrant, Agdas is made the subject of her director daughter’s first funded documentary feature film, her state of mind begins to unravel.

Blue Scars

Writer/Director: Emma Ramsay

Synopsis: A gentle, young father, desperate to provide for his family, is forced to work down the coal mines of 1950’s Scotland. Here, he is terrorized relentlessly by his bullish co-workers until a Faustian pact with a malevolent monster gives him the strength to fight back. 

Ode to Joy (How Gordon Got to Go to the Nasty Pig Party)

Writer/Director: James Ley

Synopsis: Gordon is homonormative and fears he might be pathologically boring until he meets Cumpig and Manpussy at a sex party in Leith. When they tell him about Europe’s biggest gay sex party in Berlin, Gordon obviously wants to go, but can he really transform into a sex pig?

The Things We Thought We Knew

Writer: Raisah Ahmed; Co-Writer: Mahsuda Snaith; Producer: Shirine Best

Synopsis: Haunted by the disappearance of her childhood best friend, housebound Ravine Roy’s world ignites with the arrival of someone inhabiting her friend’s old bedroom. As long-buried memories resurface, and the malevolent ’Soul Drinker’ returns, she must confront her past in order to break free.

We Are Not Animals

Writer: Stef Smith; Director: Khaled Spiewak; Producers: Misha McCullagh and Alan McLaughlin

Synopsis: 1986. Industrial devastation engulfs Britain. An era of greed and axed social services. In the attic of a Scottish prison, four prisoners hold an officer hostage for five days. A published welfare manifesto in the national paper will guarantee the officer’s safe release. Days pass and tensions grow between the men. They’ve risked it all to expose the truth of prison conditions and have the voices of prisoners heard, was it worth it? Based on real events.

We support projects from initial idea to fully polished draft and successful applicants can expect to receive financial support towards their project along with creative/editorial support from the Short Circuit Talent Executives and the Scripted team at Screen Scotland.

Interested in applying for First Features? We have extended the deadline for the second round of First Features 2023/24. The new deadline is 10am on Monday 8th January 2024. Click here to find out more and apply.

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