As part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), two Heriot-Watt academics were selected to participate in the Wellcome Trust Ideas Lab. The workshop was “a rare and exciting new opportunity for talented screenwriters and writer/directors to develop story ideas by immersing themselves in the world of biomedical research”.
The Ideas Lab, a partnership with Edinburgh Beltane, brought together 20 screenwriters, filmmakers and researchers. It got off to a glamorous start with the participants walking the red carpet with Robert Carlyle and other stars at the EIFF Opening Night Gala, held at the Festival Theatre, followed by a reception at the National Museum of Scotland.
The two-day workshop that followed included a full day of roundtable discussions at Edinburgh College of Art, a tour of the microscopy and 3D printing labs at Heriot-Watt University, and the chance to attend the Wellcome Trust’s “Ideas don’t just grow on trees” event at the Traverse Theatre.
Dr Thusha Rajendran and Dr Alan Gow, both Associate Professors in Psychology in the School of Life Sciences, were selected from researchers across Scotland to participate in the workshop.
Intensive but interesting
In describing his experience, Dr Gow said, “Don’t be fooled by the glitz of the red carpet experience which opened the lab. What followed was an intensive, but incredibly interesting, programme. It was really beneficial to not only meet researchers from other biomedical and health-related fields, but to have the chance to discuss with filmmakers the fascinating process of translating initial ideas and concepts into the dramas we see on the big and small screen”.
Dr Rajendran added, “Hearing that the truism of screenwriting that ‘there is nothing, then there is something’ sounded very much like the alchemy of research: of producing something from very little. The creativity, vision and sheer determination to make it as screenwriter also sounded very much like the desire to succeed in academia. Strip back the glamour of film and at the start of the process you have some of the most creative minds. It would be remiss of academics not work with them given the chance.”