15 years of Bridging the Gap at EIFF

This year sees a big milestone for the Scottish Documentary Institute and their relationship with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the world’s longest continually-running film festival. A year after the inception of the initiative and for the 15 years since, the Bridging the Gap short films have received their World Premieres at the festival.

This year was no different—with another five short films being released into the world, created within this year’s theme of ‘RED.’

Bridging the Gap is one of the leading documentary new talent initiatives in the UK, offering intensive training and commission opportunities to emerging filmmakers. The programme helps the filmmakers develop their 10-minute documentary projects and allows them the chance to work closely with industry professionals and SDI over a period of nine months.

Bridging the Gap Alumni

We caught up with some of the Bridging the Gap alumni to hear about their experiences of taking part in the initiative and how it impacted their careers.

Duncan Cowles

“My Bridging the Gap commission Directed by Tweedie (2013-2014) was my first proper funded film after leaving Edinburgh College of Art. The success of the film allowed me to travel to festivals internationally and locally, winning awards such as the Glasgow Short Film Festival Jury Award, raising my profile as a director and leading to more opportunities and commissions.

“Since the film, I’ve completed film commissions for Channel 4, STV, BBC Scotland, BBC Radio 4, TED, Adobe and obtained development funding for my first feature documentary through Creative Scotland and Whickers World Foundation.

“Bridging the Gap was the perfect stepping stone further into the industry, and gave me the experience to progress further in my career and into these new commissions. Despite being made five years ago, my Bridging the Gap film still screens to this day, and will be forever a valuable part of my body of work.

“The film also got me nominated for the London Critics Award for Best Short Film where I met Kate Winslet. Kate hasn’t decided to fund any of my new work at this point… but I did get a photo with her for my Mum.”

See more on Duncan’s film at https://www.scottishdocinstitute.com/films/directed-by-tweedie/ and find out more about Duncan’s work on his website: http://www.duncancowles.com/about/.

An elderly man points at the camera in Directed by Tweedie

Saleyha Ahsan

“Being part of the BTG scheme and making my first cinematic short, My Mother’s Daughter, was an opportunity to be supported, mentored, critiqued and guided through an entire filmmaking process - the like of which I have not experienced anywhere else, on my filmmaking journey. I believe that is due to the personnel who spearhead the initiative.

“The team behind BTG have filmmaking and the development of future filmmakers at the core of everything they do. It remains one of the highlights of my filmmaking career to date, to have been part of the BTG. I cannot recommend it enough.”

Find out more about Saleyha’s short film here: https://www.scottishdocinstitute.com/films/my-mothers-daughter/

Hazel Bailie

“Bridging the Gap was a great experience and a steep learning curve for me at the very start of my career. I got to collaborate with incredibly talented and inspiring people on both Fine and The Truth About Tooth. The latter in particular, although still documentary, was very post-production heavy in terms of animation, sound, music and creative storytelling through the edit.

“It was this process which confirmed my love for post-production, and I went on to study a masters in Film and Television Editing at NFTS. Following that, my career continued to move forward rapidly, from editing Brian Welsh's debut feature film In Our Name to Black Mirror: White Bear and more recently Hanna for Amazon Prime and Billie Piper’s debut feature film Rare Beasts which will be premiered later this year.

“The lessons I learned during the masterclasses and mentorship in Bridging the Gap have stuck with me throughout my career and I feel lucky and privileged to have been given that great kick-start all those years ago.”

See full details about Hazel’s short films, Fine https://www.scottishdocinstitute.com/films/fine/ and The Truth About Tooth https://www.scottishdocinstitute.com/films/the-truth-about-tooth/.

"An opportunity to be supported, mentored, critiqued and guided"

“Being part of the BTG scheme and making my first cinematic short, My Mother’s Daughter, was an opportunity to be supported, mentored, critiqued and guided through an entire filmmaking process - the like of which I have not experienced anywhere else, on my filmmaking journey."

Saleyha Ahsan
Filmmaker, Bridging the Gap Alumni

Bridging the Gap 2019/20

The theme for the 17th edition of Bridging the Gap will be announced soon, with applications opening in August. You can keep an eye on all updates on the SDI website.

More about the Scottish Documentary Institute

Based at the Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, SDI has produced over a hundred films, screening in sixty countries worldwide, garnering international recognition as being at the cutting edge of the documentary sector. Bridging art and industry, SDI is committed to supporting authored films driven by content and emotional experience.

Scottish Documentary Institute is a non-profit organisation, with charitable status since April 2019, delivering a ladder of development opportunities to benefit all Scottish filmmakers and producers, in addition to running Scottish delegations, in collaboration with Screen Scotland. Learn more about the Scottish Documentary Institute at https://www.scottishdocinstitute.com/.