The Scottish Documentary Institute (SDI) provides an alternative model for creative documentary production. We nurture new talent and new forms, new screening contexts and new audiences for documentaries.

Since 2004, we have explored the different ways in which originality and diversity can be achieved through restructuring - or ‘decentering’ - production and distribution processes. We are the only academic body feeding documentary research into production in the UK and have won over 100 awards for our work, including an Academy Award nomination.

Five levels of activity

The Institute is structured around the concept of stepping stones on the ladder of talent development.

There are five levels of activity, ranging from Bridging the Gap (Level 1), an annual scheme to develop 10-minute documentaries for international cinema and festival distribution, to the Edinburgh Pitch (Level 5), a networking event for filmmakers and international broadcasters.

There are schemes for Scottish-based filmmakers and one to help international producers develop feature length films for overseas markets.

Across all schemes, we have produced over 150 films screened in 60 countries worldwide.

"We are the only academic body feeding documentary research into production in the UK and have won over 20 international awards for our work, including an Academy Award nomination."

Working across academia and industry

Building on international exemplars, such as the EU-funded MEDIA initiative, we work across academia and industry.

We forge creative and contractual partnerships across disciplines and our collaborators include Creative Scotland, BBC Scotland, the British Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Swedish Film Institute and the MND (Motor Neuron Disease) Association UK.

We have driven forward a positive cultural change within the mainstream industry, furthered the role of women in documentary (both behind and in front of the camera), and raised awareness of issues such as MND (I am Breathing), Depression (Peter in Radioland), Alzheimer’s (Irene) and penal reform (Cutting Loose).

We host a vibrant programme of workshops, masterclasses, symposia and conferences, bringing together everyone from auteurs to festival programmers.

Recent guests include Jessica Oreck, Amir Amirani, Emma Davie, Jeremy Weller, Tracie Holder and Alan Berliner.

Would you like to undertake research-led study at ECA?

We also offer a range of research-led postgraduate programmes. Find out more.

Related people