Bridging the Gap is back for its 19th year of developing new talent, finding new stories to tell and highlighting new voices in Documentary Filmmaking. 

This year our format stays the same and we are still one of the leading new talent documentary initiatives in the UK. 

As part of Bridging the Gap, we still offer:

  • documentary development training
  • a cash budget
  • production support
  • and up to one year of international festival distribution

In line with our updated 2020 mission statement, we are dedicated to discovering and  representing even more filmmakers and communities. If you feel that perhaps you wouldn’t have applied to BTG before – this is your year!

For our 19th edition of Bridging the Gap we are asking filmmakers to respond to the theme of TOMORROW.

This year’s theme is a challenge for applicants to define and redefine the concept of ‘tomorrow’ through ideas, characters and stories. We want you to surprise and challenge us with submissions that embrace the scope of the theme and subvert expectations in terms of form and content.

Flore Cosquer, SDI’s Head of Talent Development, outlines some of the key application requirements below:

On the theme of TOMORROW, SDI Director Noé Mendelle says:

“I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity,
is daring to dare.” — Maya Angelou 

Daring to dare is what I did when I decided to set up SDI.

I may not remember the exact date, but I remember that I was driving with film director Amy Hardie.  She was so enthused about the arrival of 4K digital projectors and how it was going to revolutionise the theatrical distribution of documentaries…in Europe!

We looked at each other and thought: What about the UK?  What about Scotland? Where are the UK feature docs to screen in cinemas? Something had to be done! 

Amy created Docspace to open up distribution and I created the Scottish Documentary Institute. A space to create opportunities for filmmakers to join the creative documentary family. 

When we first shared our ideas, we received many sarcastic and derogatory comments about our misplaced ambition for Scotland. But we could see how creative documentaries were spreading across Europe. We were brave enough to imagine that we could be part of it. 

We had to take baby steps so ‘Bridging the Gap’ was born – over 19 years ago.  It took years, many risks and collaborators to make the talent flow from shorts to features.  

The last twenty years have been a roller coaster for documentary filmmakers and by no means we have reached the end point but we know we can do it…together!

I once visited the Zimbabwean Stone Carving exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture park. 

One artist had made this beautiful sculpture of a hunted antelope about to jump off a cliff. She had nowhere to go and believed that if she jumped, she would transform into a butterfly. I think we are all familiar with such moments and know exactly how this antelope felt. 

Although many of us would not dare take that leap of faith.  Looking at her, half antelope, half butterfly, I could experience her transformation. We are surrounded by Mama Antelopes and we need to tell their stories while it is happening, so they don’t feel so alone.

All of us have been pushed to our limits in the last 18 months. We are still in a pandemic world. While we stay put as much as possible, earth is spinning faster than ever on its axis. Our lives have become a kaleidoscope of contradictions. We are all gamblers – taking chances in the hope that internal or external changes will happen. Reflecting and dreaming defines our actions and many of us took a leap of faith to change our ways of living, working, loving into TOMORROW.

Lastly, there is an ancient Zen saying – “Leap and the net will appear”

Bring these stories to our 19th Bridging the Gap call

Up to 12 ideas will be short-listed and taken through 3 development workshops and up to five projects will be commissioned with an £8,000 cash budget each. These 5 films will receive further hands-on support, right the way through to the editing period, and then distributed in festivals and cinemas for a year.

The films produced to date have enabled filmmakers to take successful first steps in the industry, picking up awards, BAFTAs, special mentions and festival screenings in 60 countries world-wide.

Information & Guidelines on how to apply

Application and participation in Bridging the Gap are free.

See what our filmmakers have made:  Watch the specific film trailers for previous Bridging the Gap or watch this compilation trailer on Vimeo.

And if you have any questions, contact us at

Scottish Documentary Institute is committed to offering clear and accessible application processes open to everyone. On request this information is available in alternative formats. We offer access support to disabled applicants, tailored to individual requests and our team can offer advice to new applicants and support them to make an application.

Bridging the Gap is supported by Screen Scotland, the University of Edinburgh, and Northern Ireland Screen.


Applications Now OPEN

Deadline for submission: 26th September 2021


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