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Celebrated Scottish actor David Hayman visited University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr Campus recently to take part in the UWS collaborative creative industries project, StudioLab.

StudioLab is an ongoing project where students from all the University’s programmes related to the Creative Industries collaborate together to create recorded work and closely replicates the work of the professional Creative Industries, where teams of different disciplines get together to create a final product.

Hayman was at the University’s state-of-the-art recording studios at its Ayr Campus on 11 March to record a live Q&A session with third year Contemporary Screen Acting and Performance students .

David Hayman, the founder of SpiritAid  urged acting students to “follow their dreams” when he visited the Campus. He enthralled the audience for over an hour telling them of his humble beginnings in the business, right up to recent work with Oscar Winners Michael Fassbender and Marilyn Cotillard.

David Hayman commented: “I was completely knocked over by the talent and enthusiasm of the students and the outstanding preforming and recording facilities at UWS in Ayr. I am already planning my next visit to follow up the wonderful work being done at UWS Ayr.”

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The Photo above was taken by UWS Student Oliver Karaschewski .

It was an inspirational experience for students and staff which we recorded and will publish on our School Vimeo site.

Visits like these are an invaluable part of the process of the students gaining the skills, confidence and insights to enter the professional arena and we are planning more of these for the future. Watch this space for details.


StudioLab is a unique crossover project which allows University Of The West Of Scotland  students from across  all programmes in the School Of Creative & Cultural Industries  to collaborate together to create a live recorded TV Programme.

Over the past  7 weeks, as part of their CSA Research Project, 4th Year Contemporary Screen Acting Students have been tasked with creating a 30-45 minute piece of TV Drama. They are devising , workshopping ,  and will finally  record this programme  live on Weds 11th December.

To do this requires the support and help of students from other programmes to chronicle and record the work. We will be continuing with StudioLab next Trimester at UWS so  if you are a student in the UWS School Of Creative & Cultural Industries and are Image interested in taking part as a Designer, Producer, Director, Runner, Camera Operator, Musician, Digital Artist, Screenwriter or whatever your chosen specialism may be, please come along to our first meeting.

Every Weds, 1.30 PM TV Studio 1, UWS Ayr.

Please email me at StudioLab@uws.ac.uk to book a place.


I have wrtitten previously about the setting up of our UWS collaboration project “Studio Lab”  at our new Television Studios at University Of The West Of Scotland in Ayr . We have now reached Week 3 of the project and it is developing at a breathtaking pace.

Ten  4th year (level 10 )  Contemporary Screen Acting Students have worked on creating  the scenario, characters and script of a live recorded studio production of approximately 30-60 mins in length. Readers will, I hope,  appreciate that this is a substantial piece of work.It   will be recorded  “as live” at UWS Ayr  Studios on December 5th. It will be directed by professional TV Director Michael Hines , who as well as being one of Scotland’s leading directors, also lectures on our Camera Acting Techniques and Screen Drama modules. All the improvisational materials and exercises are being  been recorded , edited and disseminated online to the performance  team by volunteer Film Making & Screenwriting students as part of this crossover collaboration. The volunteer  recording team have put in literally hours of work to ensure that the acting team have the material in an edited form in order to reflect, and then deepen the characterisations which will be eventually reflected in an improvised  shooting script to prepare for the live recording.

Rebecca Skinner, Emmi Häkkä, Marius Pocevičius and Lizzie Kane in UWS Ayr Studios

As the project progresses closer towards  shooting, Broadcast Production students will become more involved, so that by the time we record, I expect a team of about 20 strong production team to be part of the behind the scenes efforts to capture the live recording of this experimental drama. Thus around 30 UWS Creative Industries students will have had the chance to take part in an authentic  hands on experience which we hope will arm them for the challenges of the Professional Creative Industries.

We have now reached week 3 of the project. So far students have worked on Object, Situation and Interactive  improvisations. This has produced approximately 3 hours of edited material. The first part of each session is taken up by watching, discussing and reflecting upon last weeks material. All the edited material has been previously posted on a closed Facebook Group where all the participating students, both voluntary and assessed, take part in creative online discussions through the week.Screen Acting  students are tasked with creating three dimensional authentic characters with a backstory, personna, and  psychological underpinning which will propel them into the creation of a fully integrated live drama.

Having now gathered a wealth of material, students are  engaged in the process of “locating” the precinct within which the final production will be based. Will it be an airport? An institution? A city street? A Spaceship? Inside John Malkovich’s head? The decision of what, where and how the precinct will be will evolve over  the next two weeks, so that by week 6, students have a firm grasp of the creative parameters of the project. By weeks 7 and 8, the  now located script will be further improvised, developed and honed. At this point, UWS Screenwriting students will distill all the material into a developing script, so that by the time we get to the Technical Rehearsal in Week 10 on Nov 28th, we will have an agreed shooting script  which fully reflects the creative input of all participants. We are then planning a final screening in our Campus HD 7:1 Movie Theatre in Week 12.

Next trimester, all the Contemporary Screen Acting students are tasked with writing a 4-6,000 word Ethnographic survey of the lived experience of the entire process.  This part of the process is has been devised and delivered by my colleague Dr John Quinn at UWS.

The combination  of the two processes, Recorded Artefact and Ethnographic Survey will combine in a 40 Credit Module to complete the Contemporary Screen Acting Research Project. We plan to have all student work submitted in a digital form and be deliverable online in the first ever truly paperless  I will update progress with the StudioLab project as it develops.

Katie Power,Catherine Lockhart,Stuart McGowan,Anna Kennedy & Claudie Baker Park improvise. Photos by William Aldridge


This week Contemporary Screen Acting students at the University of The West of Scotland took part in the launch of a unique new creative Screenwriting project. “Studio Lab” is based in the UWS new 80 million pound Ayr campus where students have access to two  full HD state of the art TV Studios.

As part of their final year Research Project, Ba (Hons) Contemporary Screen Acting  students are creating an hour long drama which will be recorded live in  December  at UWS studio 1 .However, what makes this cross-over project unique is that students from other UWS Programmes are being integrated from the beginning into what will be a 12 week process.

Every Wednesday afternoon, Film Making & Screenwriting  students will help to develop the narrative, Broadcast Production students will be in charge of the recording and vision mixing it, Commercial Music students will supply the soundtrack and so on. The whole enterprise will come to a climax on Dec 5th when the entire team , directed by “Chewing The Fat and “Still Game” director Michael Hines, will record the drama “live” in the TV Studio.

As leader of the Programme, I am supposedly  in creative charge of the whole process but if truth be told it is the students who are leading the way. The first step was taken in our main Studio 1  yesterday when the actors took started  their initial improvisation .They are charged with the task   of creating three dimensional characters who will eventually go on to improvise a script which will then be rehearsed and acted out  in the drama.

While the Screen Acting students took part in a tense “hot seat” improv, Film Makers recorded their every move on two HD cameras. By next week we will have a digitised and  edited Quicktime of the process created by the Film Makers , and it will be viewed by all participants . They will then discuss the characterisation  , decide what to use and what to drop, and then move on to recording  the next stage of the improvisation,  and so on. A script will evolve over the first 6 weeks of this process, and by week 11, a fully fledged unique studio drama will have emerged to be recorded in  the final week.

Students at the first session described the process as being “an intense experience”……”as soon as I was under the lights, all the stuff I had planned on using disappeared, and I found I was really being the character”.

The whole idea of the “Studio Lab” process is to create an exciting collaborative environment where we mimic the professional Creative Industries where teams of different disciplines get together to create the final product. If the first week is anything to go by, it will reap creative rewards. We don’t know if the final  programme  will be a comedy, a drama, or a mixture of the two genres, but it will certainly be a unique  experience for all concerned.


Best Writer – Daryl Cockburn for ‘Fate’
Best Director – Colin Ross Smith for ‘The Lost Purse’
Best Editor – Ray Paterson for ‘Run with the Wolves’
Best Sound – Scott McKay for ‘Your Number’s Up’, ‘Cloud Nine’ & ‘The Waster’
Best Script edit & development – Cheryl Belcourt for ‘Your Number’s Up’, ‘Cloud Nine’ & ‘The Waster’
Best Original Music/Composer – Frank McDonald for ‘The Lost Purse’ (collected by Producer Colin Ross Smith)
Best narrative in a music video – Ray Paterson for ‘Run with the Wolves’
Best Cinematography/DOP – Basharat Khan of Bash Art Creative/’See you in my dreams’
Best Production Design – Basharat Khan of Bash Art Creative/’See you in my dreams’
Best After effects – Colin Chaloner for ‘Cloud Nine’ (collected by Producer Andy Cassels Moniton Pictures)
Best Male Actor – Declan Michael Laird for ‘The Lost Purse’
Best Female Actor – Shona Denovan for ‘The Consultant’
BEST FILM & Cash Prize – ‘The Lost Purse’ by Colin Ross Smith (cash prize being used for festival entries!)
Audience Award Best Film – ‘The Lost Purse’ Always great when the Judges AND the audience agree!!!Special Achievements: Jason Weidner for innovation with ‘The things we do’, Mark Loftus for assist after effects ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘The Waster’ and, Sarah Michael for Costume for ‘Cloud Nine’ and ‘The Waster.’
Below you can see a photo of Stuart Hepburn with Screenplay  winner Darryl Cockburn and the Cast & Crew of “Fate”
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Special mention was made by many afterwards on Andrew McIntosh performance in ‘Your Number’s Up’,  (so versatile some folks didn’t realise he also played Mad Mitch!) John McQuiston in ‘The things we do’ and Lucy Goldie in ‘See you in my dreams’; but as I say I could go on on on and it took ALL involved to get all the films to screen!  There are also a heck of a lot of winners behind the scenes and I’d like to thank just a few of them here in particular, but a huge thanks to all of you who make WCA! constructive, motivational and fun throughout the year – Support Home Grown!So, a HUGE THANK YOU to the fantastic work and dedication behind the scenes to pull the event together from (in particular, and in no particular order!!!)  Cheryl Belcourt and Mark Loftus for fantastic support & skills work throughout the year culminating in the nights event – our host venues CCA who support us all year long with fantastic work spaces and liason with Events ManagementArlene Stevens, and last nights amazing platform to showcase our Screening & Awards night at Cineworld! liasing with Lisa Henderson Manager and the Duty Manager Helen and staff on the night kept up the excellent support.  Event specific Teams of Charlie Francis and Colin Ross Smith who managed the dvd compilations of screenings and ‘what WCA does’ – Interviewers from FLICKER magazine Sean Wilkie and Melanie, our Event Photographer Chini Obiechina – Event Assistants Kyle Spence, Katie White and Anna who put up with my hissy fits in the run up –Isla McTeerwho done all our lovely posters, flyers and tickets and Katie White for the amazing Awards that are now adorning your walls and putting a smile on yer face when you see it and think ‘I won that’ and deservedly so!  Lastly, a huge thanks to all the folks who came along to support Home Grown Talent, and to the Industry Judges who took time out from their busy schedules to watch the films and vote;Lizzie Gray, Bernard McLaverty, Eleanor Yule, Martin McCardie, Alan de Pellette, Nick Farr & Derek Morrison, and those who voted but were also able to attend the event to support and network in person; Zam Salin, Stuart Hepburn, Karen OHare & Dale Corlett. Big thanks! 

Glasgow city centre panorama from Lighthouse t...

Creative View From Glasgow.

The University Of The West Of Scotland’s School of Creative and Cultural Industries Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is aimed at producing an innovative training video on discrimination at work. The project is designed as bespoke piece of training  for our partners, leading Glasgow law firm, Law at Work, and  is now entering a crucial phase in Week 7.

UWS graduate and KTP Associate Chris Young has delivered a 20 page research dossier on Innovative Training Videos which was discussed at our last  programme meeting at our partner  Law At Work’s  HQ in Glasgow.  This impressive  body of research will provide the creative team  with the theoretical underpinning for the next stage of the process. It is this critical research  based approach which  makes the KTP unique in terms of it’s  impact on our creative educational practice and the service  that we can provide for industrial partners such as Law At Work.

In the light of our discussions, Chris is  now  finalising the shooting script of the web-based  training video.  With a planned screentime of  20 minutes, and a cast of 12, this is a major undertaking for Chris as a first time professional director.  Camera, lighting, sound ,  makeup, and catering have all been finalised for the weekend shoot, and if the script outlines are anything to go by, we are looking forward to a fantastic piece of work from Chris and his production team.

The final draft of the script will be ready by Friday 29th of October,  casting will have been finalised  by Wednesday 3rd November, ready for the shoot on Sat and Sun 6th and 7th of November. The KTP team are taking over the entire floor of Law At Works offices for two days in order to shoot the video.

Post production is slotted in at UWS Ayr for the two weeks after this, with a planned delivery of the final product to our clients Law at Work on 22nd of November. As luck would have it, the filming of the new video takes place at the same time as Law At Work are undertaking a complete re-branding of their website and corporate identity. It  is planned to coordinate the launch of the video with the new website in the new year. The timing for all of this could  not be better.

It has been a challenging process for all involved, particularly since this is the first ever KTP embarked upon by the School Of Creative And Cultural Industries.

These are exciting times for all those involved in this unique project. There’s no doubt that this will  lay down a marker for the sort of creative engagement  with industry  which the UWS Skillset Media Academy plans to roll out in the future.


Due to the three year success of workshops at Write Camera Action, with such fantastic writing, talented cast and enthusiasm from all directors/producers and participants involved, it has sparked some amazing collaborative no/low-budget projects being made.  WCA would like to encourage and support more independent productions with two new initiatives:

1. Open Script Competition

All scripts entered will be given feedback.  A winning script will be voted by the panel to be produced sourcing cast and crew from WCA and affiliated groups, with equipment provided by Moniton Pictures.  The finished film will be ready for festival entry and be a calling card for all parties involved, with the writer retaining copyright of all material included.

Submissions open from 18th Oct. 2010.  Deadline closes 14th Jan. 2011.  The entry fee of £15 per script will generate the funding to produce the winning script.  More than one entry is not only allowed – it’s applauded!  The winning script will be announced at WCA networking night at CCA on 29th Jan. 2011.  Entry criteria and more details on request from writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk

2. WCA presents a night of Film screenings & Networking

A lot of you have embraced the ethos of WCA and have formed collaborations to get those ideas work shopped at WCA actually produced, with some currently in production, WELL DONE!  Some of you are still thinking about it, WELL DON’T!  Now is the time to get them made, get them finished and let’s show them!  WCA announces an evening of film screenings from WCA collaborations to be held on Friday 22nd April 2011 at the CCA with networking at the CCA bar afterwards.

The evening will be open to the public with specially invited industry guests.  It will be ticketed to generate two cash prizes, 1) for the winning film voted for on the night by the guest panel, and 2) the winning film of the public vote from the audience.  More details and reminders next year but this early announcement will allow people to get their films finished and/or into production in time to enter.

Submissions open from 30th Nov. 2010.  Deadline 31st March 2011.  Collaboration can mean utilizing mailing list, casting, crew, work shopping etc.  Entry criteria and more details on request from writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk Tickets £10, limited and available from CCA Box Office.


Glasgow city centre panorama from Lighthouse t...

Glasgow, City Of Film!

I am indebted to Linda Campbell for important news of a new Initiative from Write Camera Action in Glasgow. For more information email Linda Campbell at writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk
A lot of Scottish Film makers have embraced the ethos of WriteCameraAction and gone on to form collaborations and get those ideas which were originally workshopped at WCA actually produced – Well Done! With the support of their host venue the CCA in Glasgow, Linda Campbell is now organising an event to showcase films that have been workshopped or have collaborated with WCA prior to their production. At this early stage what she is looking for is an indication of how many of these films are out there and a little of their history.

Please check requirements below and if relevant contact Linda at writecameraaction@hotmail.co.uk about your project with subject heading ‘WCA Indie Initiative’

The script of the work produced must have been workshopped either in whole or in part at WriteCameraAction in a monthly WCA or an advanced WCA workshop booked by Linda, AND/OR have some collaboration directly with WCA that contributed to the work being produced. It must be a no-low budget production e.g. not funded by a public body (no Student Graduation films) That’s it!!!

The rest is detail: You should say what the Title of work is, genre, duration, brief synopsis, and brief history of ‘idea to fruition’ e.g. Did you utilise the WCA mailshot, did you cast from participants cast during your workshop or seen at another performance at WCA etc. or not. Who were your crew and did you meet them through networking via WCA or not. Has it been shown anywhere else e.g. Film Festivals, GMAC, Youtube… That’s it. More than one entry is not only allowed, it’s applauded! No limit to the number of films you enter as long as they fulfill the criteria. If you have a work in progress send Linda the details if it’s likely to be completed in the next few months. Please note: Do NOT send any films at this stage. Linda expects to see varying standards of production values so don’t let that put you off – Write Camera Action is about supporting and developing Home-Grown Produce!!

If in doubt of eligibility contact Linda for clarification. Enquiries on this event from relevant writer/filmmakers only. Once the Event is fully realised and dates and ticket prices fixed, she will send out an email to everyone. You know she will :)))


Michael Cera, canadian actor (MACBA, Barcelona).

Why Not Cast Him?

"It's about this kid who has a sledge called 'Rosebud' "

Over the past five  years I calculate that I have workshopped, tutored or just plain stuck my nose into a minimum of  300 short film projects. The figure is probably nearer 500 but who’s counting. The point is that again and again  I have sat with  creative clients of some sort, in a creative environment of some sort,  in order  to change a wonderful idea that a writer is passionate about in their head,  into a short film which they hope will make the world just as passionate about it too. I call this the “alchemy of film ideas.” That magical fantastical part of  the creative process which has to do with transforming  the original nugget of creativity into a new , expanded and shareable film experience for the viewer. Put simply, if you had an idea that made you cry with emotion, that’s what you want the film to do to the audience. The same goes for  laughing,  smirking, or most importantly thinking! That’s why we want to make films in the first place, in order to share our emotions and thoughts with the world.

The trouble with this  alchemic process is that between that nugget of creativity you originally  had  and  the tear jerking movie you want to make, lies a whole prosaic , practical, TECHCNICAL  process of change, in which there are a  thousand chances to make decisions which will distort, or even destroy the final product. That’s why making good films or TV is so difficult. That’s why as William Goldman says “nobody knows anything” about what makes  films successful.1.

Goldman was talking about commerciality, of course, but I think it’s true on an aesthetic and creative level also. Experience has shown me that it’s virtually impossible to predict what the correct decisions should be at any stage in the process. Given this, it seems to me that the best  thing you can do is to take a series of steps which will help to minimise the distortion, and maximise the chances of your original idea surviving the brutal process of taking it  to the screen. Original ideas are not robust, and need nurturing , so if you want to become a successful film or TV writer, hold on to that idea you have , because its going to be a bumpy ride taking it all the way to Production. So what I plan to do is create a series of short blogs with a modest aim. How to limit the possibilities of failure by   making  as few mistakes as possible in bringing in your five minute film to life. Lesson 1. has to do with the simple  idea that  “Size Matters.”

Regular readers will know that I spent the weekend at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye speaking to 30 new Screenwriters who are developing ideas through the FilmG Short films competition. As we trolled through the writers  ideas one by one, I realised that just like my previous 270 odd workshop clients, by far the greatest challenge which these tyro film makers  had in bringing their ideas to the screen was that the scale and size of their original idea was way out of line with the needs and demands of a five minute film.

People rarely have too few ideas for a short film. Time and time again, they have too MANY ideas for a short film. Of  the 29 short film ideas I was handed at the weekend, I wrote the letter “F” beside about half of them. “F” stands not for failure, but for Feature. Again and again, new writers have an idea that they think is about a short film, when in fact it is an idea for a feature. So my advice (caveat scriptor…what the heck do I know, you might be a genius ) is  forget about large casts of characters, complex backstories, groups of friends, convoluted  plots and love stories combined with gothic horrors.In my experience, a short film can just about take on board the problems, experiences inner thoughts  and development of one character. It can further just about cope with one mentor/friend/enemy/ character who can help the main protagonist to understand the need to change. And that is it. You want to show a guy who meets a girl, falls in love, loses her and then finally wins her back against  the exciting backdrop of the world tree felling championships? Great.Go get 3 million dollars and make the low budget  feature. You might even be able to cast  Michael Cera and Ellen Page, and raise 30 million on it,  but it  it certainly isn’t a short!

So, based on all those past workshops, and all those brilliant ideas,  the first piece of advise I have  in scriptwriting a short film is, SIZE MATTERS. Small is beautiful.Keep the idea simple, keep the protagonist’s journey short, keep the cast list down to two, and if you can’t express the totality of the film in three sentences, then it’s not a short film.

Next time I’ll talk about structure in screenplays. Do we need it, does it matter, and what the heck does Aristotle know about movies anyway?

"Hey, my mother loves my script!" FilmG Creatives on Skye

Here’s a fine example of a short film which knows it’s limitations, and explores it’s subject matter with emotion, and economy. Its called Historia De Un Letre . Is it any good? I don’t know, but it made me cry, and in five minutes, that’s not a bad outcome.   Enjoy.

1.Goldman, William (1996). Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood (2nd rev. ed.). Abacus. ISBN 034910705X.

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