Two people facing away from the camera looking towards rows of terrace housing. They are both wearing coats and hijabs.
Film still from "Ruth and Safiya". Credit: Northern Fortress Films 

About this opportunity

Bradford 2025, in partnership with Screen Yorkshire and The Unit (an open-access production space in Keighley co-funded by Bradford Council and Channel 4), are seeking applications from Writers and Directors (or Writer/Directors) to take part in a short film development lab. This lab supports filmmakers working in narrative storytelling, across fiction and documentary film. You must be from Bradford or have significant connections to the city and District (living here, history of making and sharing work here, etc) to apply. 

Eight projects will be selected to take part in the development lab from an open call out. Selected projects and teams have the opportunity to attend an 8-week development lab to incubate their projects through a series of story labs, masterclasses, mentoring and workshops led by TV & film industry professionals. The lab concludes with a pitch to a funding panel, resulting in three selected projects moving into financed production and premiering in 2025 as part of Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture. 

Collectively, the ideas and projects we support will celebrate, and be representative of, the diversity of Bradford and the people who live and work here – this includes the team making the project, the stories/ themes/ ideas being explored and the people it is being made for. 

Who can apply?

We want to hear from Writers and Directors living or working in Bradford, with a demonstrable connection to the District.  

We encourage Writers and Directors at early points in their career to apply. However, we need to feel confident that your project can be delivered successfully and on time, so please make sure you tell us how your creative track record supports this.

We accept applications from both individuals and creative teams. If you are applying as a team, please outline the make up of the project team in your application form. Please inform us if a Producer is already attached to your project.  

Please note we are not able to assist with team match making for individual applicants; if you are successful in your application as an individual it will be your responsibility to build your creative team, and we will require all projects to have a Director/creative team attached by pitch stage. We will offer mixer sessions for the cohort during the lab to encourage you to find your creative team. Bradford 2025 and Screen Yorkshire have final right of approval over additional team members brought into filmmaking teams.

If you have already received support/ commission from Bradford 2025: 

  • This call out is open to companies or artists who already have a live project in development with Bradford 2025 but must be able to demonstrate ability to attend the lab and deliver a film within the timeline and outline a demonstrable interest in filmmaking.
  • Artists who have received an Unlimited Micro Commission are eligible to apply to this with the same idea or a different one
  • Previous Seed Commissions – if you applied for a seed commission in 2023 you can apply to this call out with the same idea or a new project.  If you are thinking of applying with the same idea we would encourage you to make sure you have properly considered the ‘Eligibility criteria’ and ‘Things we will consider when making a decision’ below

If you are not sure if you are eligible, please email [email protected] to check with us before you make an application – please note, we will not be able to advise you on the suitability of your project or idea. 

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

Completed applications should be emailed to [email protected].

Please download the ‘How to apply’ document below which has all the information about how to tell us about your project. 

Please make sure you also complete our ‘About you’ form as part of your application. This is to help us understand the range of people our programmes are reaching and will not affect the selection process.

Eligibility criteria

We’re looking for Writers/Directors who are:

  • Aged 18+  
  • Available for in person labs on 1st-2nd June and 29th-30th June
  • Available for virtual labs on weeks commencing: 3 June, 10 June and 17 June 
  • Able to demonstrate a genuine connection to the District (for example, living here, company based here, history of making and sharing work here) 
  • If you have previous writing or directing credits you are still eligible, but must demonstrate how this opportunity will support your creative and career development 


But we cannot support applicants who have:

  • Writer/director/producer credits on a feature film with theatrical distribution across the UK 


And projects will not be eligible if:

  • It has commenced shooting, finished shooting or is in post-production 
  • Is longer than 20 minutes 
  • Explores existing IPR that has not been cleared (this means intellectual property such as an existing work of fiction that is still in copyright) 
  • Has a production budget above £20,000 – unless you can demonstrate that additional budget has already been secured to commence production in August 2024.  

Application timeline

  • Online Q&A: Tuesday 9 April 2024
  • Application deadline:  5pm Tuesday 30 April 2024
  • Date we’ll let you know if you’ve been successful by: Monday 20 May 2024
  • Project start date: Saturday 1 June 2024

Support with your application

If you need this information in another format or if you have access needs related to making an application, please get it touch with us straight away to discuss how we can support youPlease email [email protected]  

Find out more

On Tuesday 9 April at 2.30pm we will be hosting an online question and answer session (Q&A) through Zoom – where you can find out a bit more, and ask any questions you might have.

Things we will consider when making our decisions

There are a number of factors we will think about when assessing applications and when looking overall at the range of applications we will support. This includes: 

  • Quality: Does the application give confidence that the project will be high quality and ambitious?
  • Inclusivity, access and representation: That the work actively considers and celebrates the rich diversity of our district and the communities, backgrounds and lived experiences here.  And that you have thought about accessibility for yourself, your team, participants and audiences with a range of needs as central to the work and not an ‘add on’.
  • Environmental sustainability: That you’re thinking about environmental and sustainability standards and are making decisions accordingly. (We understand that this will be realistic and relative to the scale of the project, and that environmentally conscious decisions can be more expensive and therefore this will be reflected in your budget).
  • Audience focused: That there is clear thought and understanding around who the work is for, how these people will experience the project and where there may be opportunities to deepen or extend this engagement.
  • Relevance: An understanding of communities (of place and/or shared experience) in the district or Bradford 2025 themes

Selection process

Applications to the Development Lab by Writers/Directors will be considered by a panel of members of the Bradford 2025 and Screen Yorkshire teams.


We want to see that you have thought carefully about how you will make your project accessible and welcoming to people with a range of needs and from various backgrounds.

If your project is selected we can support you with advice and guidance from an access specialist to think about what is relevant and proportionate to your project and where Bradford 2025 might be able to help – but we need to know that you are thinking about this too and appropriate costs are included in your budget. 

Key project dates

In order to be eligible for the Short Film Development Lab, you must be available on the following dates.

  • Weekend 1 in-person lab: Saturday 1 – Sunday 2 June 2024 
  • Virtual lab 1: w/c 3 June 2024 
  • Virtual lab 2: w/c 10 June 2024 
  • Virtual lab 3: w/c 17 June 2024 
  • Weekend 2 in-person lab: Saturday 29 – Sunday 30 June 2024