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Eight selected participants announced for Puttnam Scholars 2021
23 Jun 2021 : News Desk
David Puttnam
Eight emerging filmmakers from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been selected for masterclasses with multi-award-winning producer David Puttnam.

Screen Skills Ireland has partner with Northern Ireland Screen, Future Screens NI, and Atticus Education, for the second year of the Puttnam Scholars programme.This cross-border initiative offers eight emerging filmmakers (four Northern Ireland residents and four Republic of Ireland residents) access to live online masterclasses with Oscar-winning producer David Puttnam (Midnight Express, Chariots of Fire, The KillingFields).  

In addition to this tuition, participants also receive a scholarship from Atticus Education to the value €1,500 each, for use in furthering their career development. The scholarship bursaries are supported by Accenture in Ireland.  

The four Northern Ireland participants were selected through Future Screens NI and the four Republic of Ireland participants were nominated by four Irish higher education institutions. The participants are all up-and-coming writers, directors, or producers who have either made, or are in the process of developing, their first feature or television drama. 

The eight participants are: 

  •  Isabella Djali Devine – Director / Producer selected by Future Screens NI 
  • Aidan Largey – Writer/Director selected by Future Screens NI 
  • Laura Robinson – Writer/Director/Producer selected by Future Screens NI 
  • Helen Rollins –Writer/Director selected by Future Screens NI 
  • Luke Morgan – Writer/Director nominated by GMIT 
  • Ali Doyle – Producer nominated by TU Dublin 
  • Niamh O’Connor –Writer nominated by IADT 
  • James Skerritt – Director/Director of Photography nominated by LIT 

“I’m absolutely delighted that this energising initiative between Atticus Education, Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen, and Future Screens NI is to be renewed this summer,” said David Puttnam  when speaking about the initiative. “I found last year’s opportunity to become acquainted with a group of emerging filmmakers from all over the island of Ireland, incredibly rewarding.”

“This year, with a new crop of hugely talented people, it feels equally promising. The film industry has been in a constant state of flux for the past eighteen months; with that in mind I’ll hope to persuade the participants that moments of great disruption normally offer serious opportunities to those with the courage to grasp them,”Puttnam added. “As we sit on the cusp of enormous change – be it economic, political, social or environmental – the Atticus Education seminars aim to help these filmmakers to find their voice and define their role as the chroniclers, creators and narrators of the world unfolding around them.” 

The Atticus Education Puttnam Scholars masterclasses will be online and fully interactive. They are designed to enhance participants’ understanding of the creative process, and the cultural context within which the screen industries operate. Across the six masterclasses, David Puttnam will explore the following themes: 

  1. The Power of Identity 
  2. The Evolution of Creativity 
  3. Fact or Fiction 
  4. Builders and Brokers 
  5. Music and Meaning 
  6. Interpreting the Future 

This is the second year of Puttnam Scholars, which began in 2020 to give emerging creative talent the opportunity to learn from David Puttnam.

The 2020 seminars included conversations with several special guests, each of whom provided insights into their own careers and thoughts on the industry. 2020 guests included Lenny Abrahamson and Mark Cousins. 

Speaking about her experience on the 2020 programme, actor, writer, and director Laura O’Shea said: “Lord Puttnam and his team at Atticus Education are pioneers of remote learning, I feel very lucky to have been a part of that. I can’t say enough positive things about my experience with the Puttnam Scholarship; the course content mixed with David’s vast knowledge of the film industry is invaluable to a filmmaker who is trying to find their voice. I finished the course with a new and practical way of looking at filmmaking.” 

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said: “We are delighted to be working with Screen Ireland and Future Screens NI on the Puttnam Scholars initiative again this year. For eight emerging filmmakers to get the opportunity to learn from an industry heavyweight like David Puttnam is truly invaluable at this early stage of their careers. We wish all the participants every success.”

Désirée Finnegan, Chief Executive of Screen Ireland, said: “We are proud to once again support the Atticus Education Puttnam Scholars initiative, in collaboration with Northern Ireland Screen and Future Screens NI. It is hugely exciting to see another group of upcoming filmmakers learn from acclaimed visionary producer David Puttnam. Initiatives such as this are more important than ever in these times, to ensure emerging creative talent continue to have access to interactive and inspiring development opportunities. We wish the participants every success.”

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