Early Development Fund 2023 – 24: Meet The Teams

The BFI NETWORK Early Development Fund supports the early stages of development for debut long-form projects.

Shapeshifter

As we contemplate our disconnection from nature, how to survive the at times overwhelming pace of modern life and all it’s technological advances along with our understanding of ourselves within social “norms”, the natural world sends an ambassador into the digital realm to remind us of the wonders of evolution and to challenge our ideas of what it means to be natural. 

Through the magic of virtual reality, let Pùca, the shapeshifting non-binary nature sprite, take you deep into nature itself, where you will interact the natural world and explore it in all it’s queer glory on a microscopic scale.

Maggie Bain (they/them)

Co-writer

Ruth Mariner (she/her)

Co-writer

Maggie Bain is a non-binary actor, movement practitioner, collaborative theatre maker, voice actor and creative technology and performance consultant with over 18 years’ experience. In 2021 they performed the role of Cobweb ‘DREAM’ (RSC, Philharmona & Marshmallow Laser Feast), an online immersive theatre show. Since then their creative focus has broadened to include XR technologies and Virtual Production. They have been invited to speak at prestigious conferences such as SXSW & BEYOND, and at the Houses of Parliament in their role as Creative Consultant to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Digital Department. They are co-directing and performing in Shapeshifter, a location-based experience leveraging live motion-capture and VR headsets to immerse audiences in new ways of seeing the natural world and the diversity within it. 

Ruth Mariner is a creative director and narrative designer who creates story-driven experiences within immersive technology (extended, virtual and augmented reality) and video games. Her background is as an award-winning writer and director in opera and immersive theatre. Career highlights include Creative Director of the BBC Dream Prom, as well as writing and directing roles for Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Opera House and English National Opera. She has created experiences for museums and communities including The Museum of London and The Eden Project, and been featured on BBC Radio 3, ITV and Channel 4 news. As a creative director, Ruth uses her love of bold concepts and her understanding of environmental storytelling to create impact and immersion. Recent clients include XR Stories, indie game studio Idoz & Phops, and Aardman Animations.

Producer: Toki Allison.

Paradise Bleeding

On the fringes of a Peak District town, a gang of amateur rock climbers escape from themselves by pushing each other to the limits both on and off the rocks. But when an enigmatic stranger infiltrates the group, the lines between desire and obsession blur as the young climbers fixate on conquering a mythical, hostile route. 

Tommy Gillard (he/him)
Writer

Tommy is a writer-director based in deepest, darkest Devon. His short film Rhapsody in Blood was edited in-camera on a single roll of super-8 film and was described by Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins as a ‘technical marvel’. His first funded short film Shuttlecock won the Best Short Film Award at the 2020 BFI London Film Festival and was later broadcast on BBC2 and BBC iPlayer. His second funded short, Slow Burn, was supported by BFI NETWORK and Intermission Film and is currently on the festival circuit. In 2022, Tommy was selected for NETWORK@LFF, the BFI London Film Festival talent lab, and is now developing a TV series and multiple feature films. 

Producer: Tom Wood.

My Name Is Mud

Armed with a revolver, a Western-obsessed autistic ten-year-old refuses school and attempts to right the injustices he witnesses on his Cornish estate.

Joseph Inman (he/him)
Writer

Joseph Inman is a disabled writer and film director based in Cornwall. He is one-third of the production collective, Bear Behind You, writing/directing all their films. Joseph’s latest film is the BFI NETWORK-funded Spines. It was the first BFI NETWORK-funded short to have an autistic writer-director and lead actor. Check out the case study on the production here. The film premiered at Encounters 2023 and has already won awards in Australia. Joseph’s previous film City Fishing won best short film at Cornwall Film Festival and his documentary A Village with a View was the only British short selected for last year’s RAI film festival. His films have also won two Gorsedh Kernow awards for outstanding contributions to Cornish culture.

Producer: Lily Woodcock

Entangled

Within the walls of a country estate a kitchen boy’s existence is forever altered by the arrival of a mysterious gardener. Upon discovering he suffers from the same affliction (causing slime mould to grow along their skin) a tempestuous romance ignites. Entangled is a poem shared by two lovers, a dance between the erotic and spiritual – a painfully intimate, poignant, and cosmic exploration of queer love in the context of human history and throughout the existence of the universe.

Frankie Fox (he/him)
Writer

Frankie is a transgender writer-director. His debut short Goodbye Python was awarded BFI funding in 2022 and is one of the first UK sci-fi films by a trans director featuring a trans cast. The film was nominated for the Iris Prize, screened at worldwide festivals including BFI Flare and is now available on BFI Player and 4OD. Frankie has since directed work for brands such as Jägermeister, Instax and OpenTable.

Producers: Milo Beyts & Lindsay Fraser

Further information

  • BFI NETWORK: Early Development Fund Read more
  • Early Development Fund 2023 – 24: Meet The Teams Read more

More from Film Hub South West

Coffee Morning with BFI NETWORK South West

A drop-in (online) coffee break and online chat for filmmakers based in the South West of England.

Events

Read more

Coffee Morning with BFI NETWORK South West

A drop-in (online) coffee break and online chat for filmmakers based in the South West of England.

Events

Read more

Coffee Morning with BFI NETWORK South West

A drop-in (online) coffee break and online chat for filmmakers based in the South West of England.

Events

Read more

Director Lab 2024: Meet the Participants

BFI NETWORK south west, in partnership with Bournemouth Film School (BFS), is pleased to announce our Director Lab cohort.

Read more