Bafta awards show the talent behind Scottish screen sector - Angus Robertson
The film Aftersun was the big winner of the evening, with Paul Mescal picking up the Best Actor in Film award and Charlotte Wells taking home both Director and Writer awards. The Best Film Actress award went to Lucy Halliday of Blue Jean, a young and talented actress who picked up the award for her debut film.
World-class sound engineer Stuart Wilson, received one of BAFTA Scotland’s highest accolades, the Outstanding Contribution to Craft with, among others, Star Wars director JJ Abrams appearing on screen to acknowledge the Scot as the best sound engineer in the world.
The Lifetime Achievement award winner was Shirley Henderson—of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Trainspotting, Happy Valley, Frozen, Marie Antoinette, Hamish Macbeth, and much more—who dedicated her prize to her late father, who she said encouraged her to “have a dream”.
More than ever, I am convinced that the screen sector in Scotland is a place where young people will be able to have a dream and to realise it. Two recent developments give real hope for the future.
First, pupils at secondary schools across Scotland are learning all about filmmaking as part of a curriculum development programme being run by Screen Scotland.
Experienced film and screen educators are working with teachers in schools in Argyll and Bute, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness and Shetland to teach young people about practical film making and the wide range of work that goes into making film and screen content.
The work is another step toward Screen Scotland’s ambition to introduce film and screen as an expressive arts subject in Scottish schools which builds on work testing the innovative new curriculum that took place in nursery and primary schools earlier in the year.
In the second recent development the Sean Connery Foundation has revealed plans to create a permanent film and TV school at a vast new studio complex in Leith.
The year-long course at the Sean Connery Talent Lab will see six g roups receive £25,000 to create their own short film.
These two developments will help boost the screen sector’s success going forward. But there is, as always, more to do and further potential that can be realised.
It remains the case that the screen sector is heavily tilted towards London, with content commissioning and programme planning based predominantly in the UK capital.
It has been exceptionally difficult to engage with the UK Government on the issue of broadcasting policy, too. Since 2017, seven different secretaries of state have been in control of the Department of Culture Media and Sport, which has fundamental control over the broadcasting policy that could be pivotal in changing the balance of where and with what resources the film and TV sector should be supported across the UK.
Given the obvious strengths and potential of the industry in Scotland—and indeed in other parts of the UK such as Leeds, Bristol and Salford—we must do more to counterbalance the recognised London hegemony.
Many thanks to all who made the 2023 BAFTA Scotland Awards happen, and congratulations again to the BAFTA nominees and winners. The full list can be viewed on the BAFTA Scotland website.