After studying Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Stirling in the late 1970s I moved to Edinburgh in 1980 where I freelanced, taught photography in the evenings at Theatre Workshop, wrote about media for Radical Scotland and worked as an alternative bookseller. Making my very first video (on a theatre group in Wester Hailes) brought me into contact with the film and video workshop sector. I began researching it and the Scottish independent film sector for a research MLitt. at the University of Stirling. My professional film & TV career proper began in 1989 at Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust, one of the then Channel 4/ACTT (the film union which became BECTU) film and video workshops accredited under the innovative ‘Workshop Declaration‘ . Initially responsible for finance and administration I progressed production management to producing and then directing (See ‘Films’ page for details) a wide range of documentary, current affairs and drama for Channel 4, BBC Scotland and other broadcasters, first with EFWT and, since 1997, my production company Asylum Pictures. I received a UK BAFTA nomination in 1996 for ‘The Butterfly Man’, a half-hour film drama directed and shot by the brilliant cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, and in 2004 a Scottish BAFTA best TV documentary nomination for ‘Tree Fellers’, directed by Sana Bilgrami, now my colleague at Edinburgh Napier University.
From 1999 to 2002 I was in charge of script and project development for the then national screen agency Scottish Screen and Executive Producer of This Scotland, a documentary new talent scheme in partnership with STV. I joined Edinburgh Napier University in 2002 to establish its first postgraduate programme for producers, the MA Screen Project Development, the first screenwriting (MA Screenwriting) and Master of Fine Arts in film (MFA Advanced Film Practice) degrees in Scotland.
I was appointed Director of Screen Academy Scotland in 2005 following Edinburgh Napier and Edinburgh College of Art’s joint designation as a Skillset Screen Academy, one of what were then seven ‘Screen’ Academies but are now three Skillset Film Academies in the UK. The Academy was also designated as a Skillset Media Academy in September 2008 making it one of only two dual-status Academies in the UK. It was awarded full membership of CILECT, the international association of film schools, in November 2008.
I became Professor of Screen Media in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University in December 2008, giving my inaugural professorial lecture on film in Scotland (which you can read via the ‘lectures and talks’ page) on September 2009. Regardless of the job description or institutional context I see my role and my interests as helping to create opportunities for people to make engaging, significant and excellent work for the screen and to help develop the knowledge, infrastructure and policies that can make that easier.
Also in 2008, with colleagues from the Irish and Estonian national film schools (joined the following year by Finland) I established ENGAGE, a European programme to develop new screenwriting, producing and directing talent from film schools mainly, but not exclusively, in the smaller EU nations. ENGAGE was funded for a total of seven years between 2008 and 2015 by the EU Media programme and the film funds of the four partner countries.
In June 2010 I was appointed to the Board of Creative Scotland, the newly formed organisation that took over the responsibilities of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council and a great deal more. In 2013 I chaired its review of the film sector in Scotland. My term as a Board member ended in July 2015.
In August 2015 I took up the first Chair in Creative Industries with the University of the Highlands and Islands, based at UHI Shetland College in Lerwick.
Apart from my partner and daughter I love taking to mountains whenever I can and have come to appreciate that the older I get just how much more there is to know, understand, enjoy and do.
oh and I tweet @clunytunes