Genre Feature Lab

New Writing North and Film4 have joined forces to find three of the most excitingNorthernscreenwriters to take part in a unique Genre Feature Lab.  

Genre Feature Lab is a film development programme for writers from the North of England, including a two-day residential lab. Writers will be matched with a regional producer and benefit from ongoing development with an experienced script editor to help take their early-stage idea for a feature film into a compelling treatment and deck ready to present and pitch to Film4.

The lab will be led by experienced creative producers Ivana Mackinnon and Emily Leo from Wild Swim Films. Wild Swim Fims was founded in 2019, and has produced four films, including the award-winning How To Have Sex, which premiered at Cannes in 2023. Prior to Wild Swim, Ivana produced Michael Peaces Beast, which won the BAFTA for Best Debut Film 2019, and Emily is the BAFTA-winning producer behind 2015’s Farsi-language Sundance hit Under the Shadow. The lab will not only focus on the craft of screenwriting, but push writers to take creative risks ensuring their ideas reach full potential.   

From rom-com to horror and everything in between we are looking for boundary pushing writers with a distinctive voice and point of view. As a writer or writer-director you should have a real appreciation and understanding of the genre you are writing for and know how to make work that subvert tropes, is smart, surprising and has the potential to reach a wide audience.  

Funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority, now administered by North East Combined Authority. 

How will it work?

Genre Feature Lab is looking for writers based in the North of England. We want to know about you, your feature film idea and what themes and genre you are interested in exploring and why.Writers will be shortlisted by New Writing North, Film4 and industry readers.

The short-listed ideas will be shared with a selected pool of North East production companies who will have the opportunity to meet with the writers. We will help to facilitate a series of initial meetings and when both parties are agreeable will match selected writers with a production company. Selected production companies will lead on development with oversight of script mentors and New Writing North. 

Producer and writer match up meetings will take place on Zoom in the first week of September 2024.

Three writers will receive:

  • £3000, to develop the story, create the treatment and take part in the two-day residential lab
  • Travel and accommodation to the residential lab
  • Travel to industry meetings where applicable

This funding also includes the rights for the production company to pitch the project for one year from delivery of the developed materials.

Partner production companies will receive:

  • £1000 to oversee the development of a pitch deck and materials and take part in the two-day residential lab
  • Travel and accommodation to the residential lab
  • Travel to industry meetings where applicable
  • Costs of pitch deck creation and script mentors

Programme structure

Residential lab
28-29 September 2024

We will host a residential in Newcastle for the three selected writer and production company teams. They will meet producers, workshop their ideas with Wild Swim Films, and hear from a guest screenwriter, who has recently released debut genre feature.

Development period
October 2024 – January 2025

The teams will use this time to write, touching base with their assigned script mentor and producer. These meetings will be facilitated via Zoom and Notes, with support from New Writing North. During this time, the teams will work on three revisions of their treatment. 

Pitching to Film4
February – March 2025

Treatments will be finalised and teams will work with a design partner to create a pitch document. Once the materials are signed off, teams will meet with Film4 to discuss the projects and further opportunities.  

How to apply?

  Apply as a writer


The programme is open to writers or writerdirectors, who are based full time in the North of England. Writers can be from any creative discipline and experience level but must be able to provide a 15 page screenwriting sample. Writers must also be available to attend the residential element of the lab taking place on the 28-29 September 2024.

You can apply with a completely original idea for a feature film, or an idea of your own that already exists in another form, but you must be the originator of the idea and be the sole owner of the underlying rights to the material.

The deadline for writer applications is 1 July 2024, 11.59pm

Apply as a producer


If you are a producer or production company interested in taking part, please see here for more information before applying.

Selected production companies will have access to the shortlisted writer applications and a series of initial meetings will be facilitated by New Writing North. We will work with production companies to ensure that the match with a writer is agreeable to both parties. 

This programme is funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority, now administered by North East Combined Authority. Production companies must be based in the North of Tyne (Newcastle, Northumberland or North Tyneside). 

The deadline for producer applications is 6 June 2024, 11.59pm

Further information

If you have any questions about the application process, or the Genre Feature Lab in general, please sign up for one of our drop-in Zoom information sessions. The information sessions will be run by New Writing North’s Screen Development Producer, Roxy Mckenna. For any other questions about the application process, please email [email protected]

Zoom Drop-in Info Session                 
Wednesday 12 June,
12pm – 1pm

Book here

Zoom Drop-in Info Session
Monday 3 June, 1.30pm – 2.30pm

Book here

About the producers

Ivana MacKinnon 

Ivana’s new company Wild Swim Films, a collaboration with Emily Leo, was founded in 2019, and has produced four films. Nocebo, a contemporary thriller directed by Lorcan Finnegan and starring Eva Green, was released in theatres internationally in 2023. Tuesday, a mother-daughter fairytale starring Julia Louis Dreyfus and Arinze Kene, will be released internationally in summer 2024. Molly Manning Walker’s How to Have Sex premiered at Cannes 2023, winning the prize of Un Certain Regard; it was released internationally in late 2023. Bring Them Down, an Irish revenge thriller starring Barry Keoghan and Christopher Abbott, will premiere in 2024.

Prior to Wild Swim, Ivana produced Michael Peace’s Beast, which won the BAFTA for Best Debut Film 2019, was nominated for the BAFTA for Best British Film, and received 11 BIFA nominations. Beast was released internationally in 2018, after premiering at Toronto in the acclaimed Platform strand.

In 2013 Ivana Exec Produced War Book, a Jack Thorne-penned and Tom Harper helmed political thriller starring Sophie Okenedo and Antony Sher, having worked with both writer and director previously on their debut The Scouting Book For Boys.

Ivana was Head of Creative Affairs for Cloud Eight Pictures and Celador Films from 2002-2012, working across films as diverse as Slumdog Millionaire and The Descent.

Emily Leo

Emily Leo is a BAFTA and BIFA-winning producer with a track record for discovering new voices and taking risks on distinctive material. Starting Wigwam Films in 2012, Emily sought out and backed the emerging voices on which the company was built. Babak Anvari’s debut feature Under the Shadow, produced by Emily, won a BAFTA for Best Debut, won prizes at festivals around the world, and was the UK’s submission to the Oscars as a Foreign Language film. Her commission of an idea from emerging theatre writers Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones resulted in the TV Series Run, which Emily Exec Produced for HBO and One, and which will air in 2020. While at Wigwam Emily also produced An Evening With Beverley Luff Lin, which premiered at Sundance 2018, and Netflix’s first UK Original, iBoy. In 2015 she was a Screen International Future Leader.

In 2018 Emily and Ivana McKinnon combined development slates to form WILD SWIM FILMS. The company aims to tell creatively ambitious stories that seek truth through fable and genre. The company has recently produced Tuesday, directed by Daina O Pusic and starring Julia Louise Dreyfus, and Nocebo, directed by Lorcan Finnegan and starring Eva Green and Mark Strong. Molly Manning Walker’s debut film How to Have Sex, premiered in and won Un Certain Regard in Cannes 2023, and Christopher Andrews’ debut Bring Them Down is in post-production. Upcoming projects include Cavendish, a female driven chase movie set in the witch hunting forests of 17th century England, and teen comedy Sumo.


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