Science Charity Teams With BFI, Film4 For Screenwriting Prize

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975): "Martini"
Everett Collection

Director: Milos Forman

The winner will pick up $31,000 and have the script developed with help from the British organizations.

LONDON – Charitable organization the Wellcome Trust is teaming with the British Film Institute's Film Fund to mount a search for scripts inspired by biology and medicine, from genetics and infectious diseases to consciousness and mental health.

Launching what it hopes will become an annual screenwriting prize, the Wellcome Trust, in association with the BFI Film Fund, has also corralled the help of Film4, the standalone filmmaking arm of U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 to help pick a winner.

Judges of the prize, which carries a £20,000 ($31,000) will include reps from both the BFI and Film4 with the duo pledging to help develop the winning idea by giving access to development executives.

The winning scribe will receive support from the Wellcome Trust to connect them with world-leading scientists and to help identify commercial partners and producers.

Wellcome Trust director of medical humanities and engagement Clare Matterson cited examples of movies inspired by science and medicine including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Inception to Blade Runner and Memento.

"These are films that question what it is to be human or even just to be 'normal', that express the hopes and fears of society towards scientific progress," Matterson said.

"At the Wellcome Trust, we work with the brightest minds with the best ideas in medicine. The Wellcome Trust screenwriting prize is aimed at identifying and supporting their counterparts in the film world and creating some truly original British films."

Lizzie Francke, senior development and production executive, BFI Film Fund, added: "Science in film is by no means restricted to science fiction or science-inspired biopics. We want to hear from screenwriters with bold, innovative projects that draw inspiration from science and medicine to tell stories which challenge and entertain audiences."

The Wellcome Trust screenwriting prize aims to develop feature length dramatic films, with both live action and animation projects eligible to apply.

Judges including experts from the Wellcome Trust, the BFI and Film4 will shortlist between five and ten entrants. Shortlisted writers will then meet the judges and discuss their ideas before a winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Wellcome Collection in the fall this year.

Film4 development editor Eva Yates said: "We'll be looking for ambitious cinematic ideas which explore the realms of science and medicine in original and exciting ways."