National Theatre of Scotland is delighted to announce a new short film commission opportunity for South Asian artists including those with mixed heritage, specifically those based in Scotland.

The short film will be executive produced by Uzma Mir, a leading Scottish Asian screen producer.  The panel includes two celebrated members of the South Asian creative community in Scotland, screenwriter and director Raisah Ahmed and actor, writer and presenter Sanjeev Kohli.

Uzma Mir said

“I’m really excited to be part of the National Theatre for Scotland’s fantastic initiative to hear from creatives of South Asian heritage in Scotland. I know there are hundreds of stories from the community that need to be told, and this is a unique opportunity for them to be realised and amplified in a nurturing and supportive environment, and showcased to a wider audience”

With 30 years of experience working across radio and television as a director, producer and executive producer Uzma worked for BBC Scotland for the first 16 years of her career across a variety of genres from Features and Documentary to Education and Children’s.

Credits include: Balamory, Raven, Rule the School and Jeopardy. She set up Turmeric Media in 2008 and produced and directed After Sheku. Most recently for the BBC, she executive produced 60 episodes of Molly and Mack for CBeebies. In 2022 she was also Series Producer on Olga Da Polga, based on the books by Michael Bond (Maramedia).

Raisah Ahmed said

“The South Asian community has been a part of the fabric of Scotland for decades, but the representation on our stage and screen would have you believe that they don’t exist. Any work that can be done to address the lack of opportunity for South Asian talent and experience within our arts is urgent and vital. I’m pleased to be working with National Theatre of Scotland  on this specific call out to support new talent that need those first steps in, and by commissioning work.”

Screenwriter and director Raisah Ahmed is currently working on a feature project, Half-Moon Camp looking at the journey of Indian Muslim Soldiers in WW1 and developing Safar a new film about a cross-generational female road trip.

Credits include directing on Sparks, Princess Mirror-Belle and Molly & Mack (CBBC), The Break (BBC3); writing for Control, (BBC Social) Molly & Mack (CBBC) Toad and Friends) (WB Discovery), and being part of the writers room for We Are Lady Parts (Channel 4). TV projects in development include the adaptation of Martin Sixsmith’s Ayesha’s Gift (Freedom Scripted) and Nur a six-part original romcom (Channel X Hopscotch).

Sanjeev Kohi said

“New stories are important. If we want new stories, we need new perspectives. Voices that haven’t been heard before. There’s a whole generation of unheard voices with their own compelling & unique flavours. I want to hear them”

Sanjeev Kohli is a writer/presenter/actor. He is the co-writer/co-star of award-winning Radio 4 comedy (and 2019 Edinburgh Fringe show) Fags Mags and Bags, and has written for sketch shows Chewin’ The Fat and Goodness Gracious Me. He presented Sanjeev Kohli’s Big Talk on BBC Scotland, & compered Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in 2017. He also plays AJ in River City, & has appeared in Cold Feet, Avenue 5, Fresh Meat, Look Around You, Porters, Magpie Murders, The Rig and Stan & Ollie. He is best known though for playing shopkeeper Navid in Still Game, which ran for nine series on the BBC & sold out three runs at the Glasgow Hydro.

This open call opportunity is part of the National Theatre of Scotland’s ongoing commitment to developing artists, creatives and technicians in Scotland and to diversifying the creative talent pool of Scottish theatre-makers.

Earlier this year, following a call-out process, the National Theatre of Scotland and Africa in Motion Film Festival announced that Gillian Katungi has been awarded the National Theatre of Scotland and Africa in Motion short film commission for black artists based in Scotland. Gillian created a short film inspired by her debut album Metamorphosis: Feeling My Way (to Freedom) – a project exploring healing, decoloniality and collective liberation.  Her film is in development.

This call-out is also part of an ongoing initiative to cross-fertilise talent between the screen and stage sectors to support more sustainable careers in the creative industries.

Subsequent short film commissions will follow over the next two years.

Commitment to South Asian artists

In 2023 the Company issued a call out to South Asian theatre-makers to encourage them to apply for the opportunity to develop ideas for large-scale work for Scottish audiences. This followed on from the setting up of a South Asian advisory group; research into specific South Asian communities in Scotland and the publishing of the Company’s action plan in this area of development. The Company is currently progressing works from this call-out.

Digital expansion

The Company has a successful track record in producing short films and longer films for digital and broadcast platforms. Short films include Car a’ Mhuiltein | Somersaults, Ferry Tales and the Scenes for Survival series during lockdown, Longer films include, Hope Dickson Leach’s’ The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which is currently being shown on Sky Arts and Adam, produced with BBC Scotland

The Company has gratefully received three years funding from the John Ellerman Foundation which will support the role of Digital producer within the Company as well as the commissioning and producing of three short films to encourage cross-sector collaboration between the stage and screen industries.

About the short film commission

Applications are welcome from individual lead artists, duos, collectives, or artist-led organisations and early career artists who have had at least one piece of work produced such as a live performance, music video, or a self-funded short film.

This commission encourages artists to look for stories in their communities, explore personal experiences, shared moments, or imagined worlds and do it in the genre that inspires them.

A diverse range of narrative driven- short film ideas are welcomed, including scripted, non-verbal, movement, creative documentary, animation, immersive, experimental or abstract,

National Theatre of Scotland will collaborate with the team to develop a festival and distribution strategy for the film and will lead on contracting, scheduling, and managing the budget.


Key open call information

Application deadline: 09:00 on Monday 29 April 2024

Total film commission: £12,000 include fees for all artists, cast, and crew.

Film delivery: September 2024

Length of film: 3 to 10 minutes


Full details on the commission and how to apply can be found here.

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