Meet The BFI NETWORK Script Readers

The team have been reading the latest round of funding submissions

4 May 2021

BFI NETWORK has taken steps to strengthen its funding assessment process by selecting a brand new pool of script readers. Each project submitted will now be assessed by not only your local Talent Exec., but a randomly-assigned reader who specifically serves to focus on the script and the strength of the project’s idea. 

Meet our new pool of readers and what they have to say about submitting your script:

Varun Thapliyal

Varun is a programmer, screenwriter and filmmaker. He's on the programming teams for Encounter's UK Student Competition and PÖFF Shorts' New Talents Live Action Competition. He has screened for SXSW, Fantastic Fest and more. He also worked as Festival Coordinator for Grimmfest. Outside of festival work, Varun is a screenwriter and filmmaker. His most recent TV pilot script came Runner-Up in Roadmap Writer's 2020 JumpStart Writing Competition. In 2018, he won The Film Empire's Diversity Mentorship Contest, and he co-wrote and co-directed a short, TRANSMISSION, which premiered at Fantasia, played at 90+ festivals and won 13 awards.

Figure out your personality as a writer and / or filmmaker.  What's the genre, aesthetic and tone of the project you're submitting?  Every story has been done before.  Think about what only you as a person can bring to that story and do to make it feel unique, fresh and exciting. “

Charlie Tidmas 

Charlie is a trans freelance screenwriter and script editor. He is a member of BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew ’21 and a past BFI NETWORK Weekender attendee. Charlie received the first MA Distinction grade in MET Film School history in his specialism of Screenwriting; his graduation feature film script has placed in international competitions including the Academy Nicholl Fellowship. He now lectures Screenwriting for BA students and works in a range of roles on independent film scripts, both shorts and features, for a wide variety of filmmakers with a focus on diverse and creative storytelling

“Be honest about why you are the right voice to make this film and why now is the right time to make it; inauthenticity is easy to spot in an application.”

Rachel Pronger 

Rachel Pronger is a programmer, writer and producer. She has nine years’ experience working in exhibition for organisations such as the BFI London Film Festival, BFI Flare, Picturehouse, Alchemy Film & Arts and Tyneside Cinema. She is also co-founder of feminist film collective Invisible Women. Alongside freelance arts writing, curation and script reading, she is currently developing short film projects as a producer.

“Unless you’re aiming for something consciously stylised, be careful that your dialogue is based on how people speak in real life, rather than how people speak in movies. Authentic, drawn-from-life dialogue is surprisingly unusual – when I come across it in a script, that really grabs my attention as a reader.”

Kiah Simpson

Kiah has worked across several creative sectors including film, TV, gaming, theatre, music, art, and live cultural events. As a producer, he has had work presented in a variety of forms including the BBC, Creative Review, Nowness & Sky. Most recently, he developed and launched a programme to up-skill emerging entrants to the film & broadcast industry. Currently, based at Manchester International Festival, the world’s first festival of original commissions and the operator of The Factory set for completion in 2022.

Sense of place - Include a specific place in your script. We live on a really small rock with dozens of accents, personalities and architectural styles which vary from Newcastle to Norwich. Research this place and the cast of characters that might be found there. It'll only make your story richer and more authentic.”

Joshua Boultwood-Neale

I am a freelance script consultant with over eight years’ experience working across scripted development. Offering bespoke script services to emergent writers/filmmakers and production companies, I find it both humbling and gratifying being able to support creative talent in realising their ambitions. I am also a script writer of shorts, features, and TV pilots, with longstanding thematic interest in class dynamics and hidden communities. Currently seeking well-matched representation. https://www.clippings.me/joshuaboultwoodneale

“There was significant discrepancy in the quality and detail of supporting materials provided with applications. Too many messy, scattered attachments can make an application feel rushed and disjointed, whereas a finely-tuned, visually-consistent pitchdeck- in which all the elements are integrated- sells your ambition in a much more streamlined, impactful way.”

Philippa Day

Pippa works as a development & production coordinator at independent production companies Delaval Film and Escape Films in Manchester. She tracks and develops new and emerging talent and works as a production manager on short films. Pippa is a freelance script reader for companies including BFI Network, The Royal Exchange’s Bruntwood Prize and BBC Writersroom. Prior to this Pippa worked at Creative England, supporting the delivery of programmes including the Emerging Talent Fund and iFeatures, Creative England’s low budget feature film development initiative, working with first-time feature filmmaking talent.

“If you're looking to make a short film similar to or based around an idea for a feature film that you plan to make in the future, ensure that your short film script stands alone. It should be understandable without the context of a feature length narrative.

 Double check that links to your previous work and any documents that you attach to the application are correct.”

Chandanpreet Shergill

Chandan is the Coordinator of the Young Audiences Content Fund at the BFI, which supports public service TV content for audiences up to the age of 18, as well as a trustee at Manchester City of Literature. She is also a Programme Producer for the Sky Writes project in Blackpool, a collaboration between Sky Studios and New Writing North looking to find new writers from underrepresented groups, and diversify television writing in the UK.

Chandan spent several years working in a talent agency in London, and more recently has worked in the charity and public sector, with roles at Refugee Action and Manchester City Council.

“Polish your script as much as you can before you submit – you want it to stand out, so make sure it its original and your voice is coming through!”

Jenny Clarke

Jenny is a freelance film curator, short film watcher and script reader, she has been watching the good, the bad and the wtf! short films since 2014. Jenny curates through an intersectional feminist lens and is committed to increasing the accessibility of short film programmes. She has a masters in film curating from birkbeck, where her dissertation was on the history & development of feminist film programming in the UK. She has programmed for London Short Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival, and she is also a member of, queer feminist film curating collective, Club des Femmes.

“My one tip and I think the most common piece of feedback I give to short fiction filmmakers is to lean into the short format, you’re not making a feature film. Keep your focus tight on a few characters, don’t be afraid of a brutal edit, think of your film as a snapshot not an epic.”

Martha Kunda

Martha Kunda is a Zambian born, London based artist and dancer. With a love of film stemming from childhood and a passion for the arts she also has a background in lighting design, production and writing. Her interests in film are wide but she is especially interested in making and furthering feminist subversive stories by and about working class black women and black LGBTQIA people. She is a member of the Indie Memphis film festival screening committee and a BFI NETWORK reader.

“When someone loves films that always shines through in their pitch, it shows a willingness to learn and adapt. So I would strongly encourage people to know their history and watch a lot of tv (soaps & music videos count too!) and film when possible (especially older films and those outside the Western canon).”

Kim Tance

Kim works in development and production, and has been a translator for Kinodvor, an arthouse cinema in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has also written for EKRAN film magazine, and is currently script editing a short film in development with BFI NETWORK.

“Every project has its own identity, but the submissions that really sing are the ones that accept and embrace the short form, paring back narrative and themes and maybe most importantly, pinning down their tone. Thoughtful pitch documents can be a helpful visual/tonal reference to inform your application or to let us know about the team/cast you have attached, but be careful not to rely on them too much to fill in details that could be explored in your script. Best of luck!”