Guiding Lights 8 Mentees
Guiding Lights 8 Mentees


27 June 2017

It’s been a busy and successful year for the 17 film directors, producers, writers and exhibitors who took part in the eighth edition of Guiding Lights during 2016-2017. We look back at their recent achievements and exciting new projects, and hear about their highlights from the scheme.

Mentee Lindsey Dryden, who is being mentored by Andrew Haigh
Mentee Lindsey Dryden, who is being mentored by Andrew Haigh

Since taking part in Guiding Lights 8, Aleem Khan has been selected as a fellow on the 2017 Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs with his debut feature, After Love, and is the recipient of a John Brabourne Award. Julia Stovell has secured sales agent Content Media and UK distribution for her feature documentary Zero Hour, produced by Alex Gibney. Baff Akoto is currently developing Orgreave in the Summer, a political family drama set in the summer of 1984 in the midst of clashes between Thatcher’s government and striking miners. Kate Dolan’s horror short Catcalls – supported by the Irish Film Board – is in production, and her horror feature, Taming the Wolf, is currently in development with partners Fastnet Films. Speaking about script editor Kate Leys’ storytelling and pitching workshop, Kate Dolan says “I absolutely loved this day. It was a really clear and concise way of looking at scripts and pitching that was incredibly useful and I think I will be utilising Kate’s advice for years to come”. Lindsey Dryden is developing her second feature, Billy, which combines fiction and documentary to tell the story of an extraordinary jazz musician and gender outlaw. Her latest short film about writer Jackie Kay is currently on display in the Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain and Unrest, a documentary about a woman who fights back against a life-changing illness, which Linsey produced, premiered this year at Sundance Film Festival.

“It’s been extraordinary for me as a director to have the chance to talk deeply about storytelling, craft and survival strategies with Andrew [Haigh, her Guiding Lights mentor]… It’s been one of the very best experiences of my career”.Lindsey Dryden

Screen ‘Star of Tomorrow’ Sarah Brocklehurst’s feature adaptation of Emma Jane Unsworth’s novel Animals, is due to start production in Autumn 2017, and Ohna Falby’s French-UK co-production The Girl from the Estuary, goes into production at the end of the year. Jude Goldrei received a BFI Vision Award in 2016, and her company Lunar Lander Films was named as one of Creative England’s 2017 CE50 cohort, which celebrates 50 of the best up-and-coming and innovative individuals and companies across film, games and digital tech. Lizzie Brown has secured development funding from Creative England for the debut feature from director Dan Hodgson (Love is Blind), and has commissioned fellow Guiding Lights mentee Ailbhe Keogan to write the script for a feature film directed by Chris Foggin, due to shoot in winter 2017.

“As a direct result of being on the programme… I believe that my network of contacts is significantly stronger.”Lizzie Brown

As well as the script she is writing for fellow mentee Lizzie Brown’s project, Ailbhe Keogan was awarded €50,000 through the 2016 Irish FIlm Board Focus Shorts Scheme for her script Take Me Swimming, which is due to start filming at the end of May. Ailbhe’s second feature Joy & Mully, a co-production between Subotica (IRL) and Zentropa Films (DK), will be directed by multi-award winning film-maker Enda Hughes (Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll, Men of Arlington_). Ruth Paxton has several projects in development – feature horrors Young Bear and Bran Malcolm Slaughtered, and period drama A Hymn for Mars, which is supported by Creative Scotland and the Scottish Film Talent Network. She is also developing her first feature documentary – a film about death awareness – and is attached to direct feature God’s Day Off. Brian Martin’s feature The Enemy Within made the 2016 Brit List. Paven Virk’s script Feeling Punjabi is going into production later this year, and will be followed by her second feature Muslim Girls. Kara Smith is currently developing two projects; Yellow Belly, a drama about a CIA agent sent to Sweden to root out war deserters and Lone, where a rogue Priest reconsiders his devotion when he’s forced to take in his estranged teenage son.

“[Guiding Lights] has opened so many doors, facilitated many beginnings to beautiful friendships and empowered me to be better at what I do. Being mentored is such a humbling experience – walking that balance between learning from the masters while being supported and encouraged to make my own mark on the industry is an education that I could not have attained under any other circumstance.”Kara Smith, Writer

Becky Bruzas and Matthew Hellett are Director and Head Programmer (respectively) for the Oska Bright Film Festival, the leading international festival of films made by, or featuring, people with learning disabilities. Both are looking forward to applying what they’ve learned from Guiding Lights to their work on the festival. Sarah Duffy’s work has focused on organising and managing the delivery of special and immersive film events, most recently on a project for Britain on Film: Rural Life – screening archive films at the South East Agricultural Show.

“I’ve been passionate about film, and I’ve got a better understanding of curating through my mentoring and commissioning experience.”Matthew Hellett

It’s been a great pleasure working with all the Guiding Lights 8 participants, and we look forward to watching their careers continue to flourish, seeing their stories on the big screen, and continuing to report on their various projects and future successes.

Find out more about the Guiding Lights mentoring scheme.

Guiding Lights is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, which is funded by the BFI with National Lottery funds, through the Skills Investment Fund.



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