Starlight Residency
 The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges

We are seeking new filmmakers with dark thoughts for a fairytale writer’s residency


Applications Open:

15 Feb 2018

Applications Close:

31 Mar 2018

Selection Announced:

15 May 2018


June/July 2018



The Starlight Filmmaker Residency


Submissions are now closed for the first edition of the residency. Please stay tuned for announcements of future residencies here. 


Congratulations to all the inspiring 2018 applicants! 

We are pleased to announce the project selected for the first Starlight Filmmaker Residency will be Kate Shenton from the UK, with her project DEAD IN LOVE.

Kate Shenton is a London-based Writer and Director in the horror genre. Her no-budget feature film EGOMANIAC had its World Premiere Fright Fest and went on to screen at festivals all around the world. Her short films (Gimp, Bon Appetite and Send in the Clowns) have screened at over 60 International film festivals including Fright Fest, Raindance, Slamdance, BiFan and Encounters. She is currently in development for her next feature films Bloody Burrito and Let’s Play, in addition to shooting her first web series.



by Kate Shenton

Synopsis: Quirky but socially awkward Nicky has been preparing for a zombie apocalypse her whole life. When it happens, she survives. What she wasn't prepared for was her pre-apocalypse office crush stumbling back into her life… as a zombie.
Dead in Love is a TV series in development. Kate will be developing the pilot episode and series arc at the residency.

Starlight Filmmaker Development Prizes:

We had a lot of incredible entries this year, and we are offering an art-development prize to our runners-up. 

Choosen applicants will meet in person or via Skype with the programme director Elizabeth to help develop the project with either storyboards or a graphic/cover for the project. 

Graphics and art can be a great tool for pitching projects to producers or for funding. Storyboard prize winners will get 10 finished frames from a scene in their script. Cover art winners will get a graphic image that can be used for the cover of their script/pitch document. 

Shelagh Rowan-Legg, NOTHING IS WRITTEN

Joana Gil, RAVAGE
Lydia Mulvey, SALTWATER




Calling screenwriters and writer-directors!  Seeking gothic inspiration for developing your next dark masterpiece?

Indie film & VFX studio MELANCHOLY STAR announces the inaugural edition of a new filmmaker-in-residence programme aimed at discovering new voices in genre writing for film.

The best part? It’s based in the dreamy medieval town of Bruges, Belgium - famous for canals, chocolate and romantic charm.

Melancholy Star is committed to making beautiful unusual things, and inspiring creativity. Support for diverse voices and stories is now more important than ever and with that in mind we have created the Starlight Filmmaker Residency with a focus on finding talented genre filmmakers acting without the benefit of public funding or previous awards, and at any age and stage in their career.

 A residency is a retreat experience designed to help writers pursue their creative growth. At the Starlight Filmmaker Residency, selected filmmakers will have a safe environment to focus on their writing without the distraction of daily life, tucked away in a beautiful medieval setting that's sure to fire the imagination.


The Residency spans a two week period in Bruges, Belgium. The selected filmmaker will be able to work on their script during that time and receive feedback on their work from an industry panel formed from a spectrum of professionals to assist in techniques to push the project forward.

  • Filmmakers (Writers or writer-directors) from anywhere in the world may apply.

  • There is no application fee.

  • The goal of this programme is to empower less heard voices in filmmaking, so priority consideration will be given to filmmakers from less represented backgrounds: i.e. female, LGBTQ+, from a minority background, or persons living with a disability.

  • The residency is two weeks long, during which the resident will live at the Melancholy Star Studio, a charming renaissance-era house with a working studio, and garden.  

  • The programme provides room and board during the two-week residency. Accommodation includes: a private room with shower ensuite, wifi, and writing space. Meals will be provided. (See FAQs for more specifics.)

  • With food and housing taken care of - the selected filmmaker will be able to focus on developing their script during those two weeks and receive feedback on their work from a industry panel, giving them good advice for taking the project forward.  

  • Selection will be announced on this website, on twitter, and via email to the applicants.

  • The applicant will need to cover their own travel expenses to get to Bruges. We are are happy to provide the winner with a letter of invitation and testimonials about the residency that may be used to help seek travel funding or visas for travel.  

  • Up to two projects will be selected for the residency. 

  • We hope filmmakers will come away from the residency inspired and refreshed creatively, with a huge leap forward on their projects and some great feedback to help get their project to the next level professionally.  Also the network of supportive professionals involved can be a great resource for their career and attracting interest in their work.

  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over.


  • Scripts must feature a less represented lead character: ie. female, LGBTQ+, from a minority background, or persons living with a disability.

  • Scripts must fit broadly within the category of genre/fantasy/horror.

  • Writers (or writer-directors) will not have had previously funded work.

  • Scripts must be long-form (feature film, or series).

  • Applicants must provide 10 sample script pages from the project.

  • Please prepare a short synopsis, a short bio about yourself, and a description of your main character (up to 100 words each.)

  • Scripts submissions must be in English.



Industry panelists will be available during or upon completion of the residency to offer feedback and assist the script in moving forward. The panel will include writers, critics and genre festival directors. This years panelists will be announced at the end of May.

Melancholy Star company directors Elizabeth E. Schuch and Konstantinos Koutsoliotas will be in residence at the house as well and actively available to advise on writing, VFX, storyboarding or design elements.

“Hearing the experiences of fellow filmmakers, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me how difficult it is for women, queer and minority filmmakers to get support for their projects. And often for programmes like this there are age barriers or career requirements that are difficult to meet. I want to see more dark and fantastic stories from a range of voices find their way into the world.  And it’s really difficult to keep at it, self-motivated, unfunded and isolated. By making this residency, it’s our small way of helping make those projects happen and giving them a little support network. We hope to provide a safe place for creativity to thrive. “
- Melancholy Star co-director and Starlight Residency organiser Elizabeth E. Schuch.

The Starlight Residency Programme is excited to grow and expand and is actively looking for sponsors and partners equally as invested in nurturing diverse new voices as we are.



 The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges




Thank you to all of the applicants for the first residency - submissions are currently being considered for the final selection. 

  • The deadline for entries for the current residency closed on 31 March 2018. 
  • Successful submissions will be announced 15 May 2018.  
  • If your script is not selected this year, you are welcome to reapply in future. 
  • We will not share your information with third parties and will only contact you directly about your submission.
  • Future residencies will be announced here on this page. 






Melancholy Star is a boutique production company and VFX studio creating unique features and art for film, based in Bruges, Belgium and London, UK.  2018 sees the completion of Melancholy Star’s third in-house feature film ‘Hypnos’ following the award-winning indie films  ‘The Book of Birdie’ and ‘The Winter’ (O Xeimonas).

Konstantinos Koutsoliotas is an award winning director, cinematographer and VFX artist. He recently won Brooklyn Horror Film Festival’s Best Cinematography award, and his directing debut ‘The Winter’ was named by Buzzfeed as one of the films of the month not to be missed. A versatile VFX artist, his credits include ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘300: Rise of an Empire’.

Elizabeth E. Schuch is an award-winning designer and director, specialising in visuals and storyboards for film and TV. Her first feature ‘The Book of Birdie’ won best film at Stranger With My Face festival, and she’s a member of the European Film Academy, and an alumni of the Berlinale Talent Campus.  As an artist, her credits include ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Britannia.’




- Who can apply?

 Applicants must be over 18 to enter, and your project must fit the application criteria. There is no upper age limit, and no specific work experience requirement. You must be the writer or writer-director for the project you are submitting. 

- What does 'not previously funded' mean?

Applicant must NOT have successfully earned government funding, public or private grants/awards in the past. We are looking for new overlooked and unsupported voices. If you've made several self funded features, great. It's a little subjective, but we hope you'll adhere to the spirit of this idea.  

- Can you cover my travel expenses to get to Bruges?

For this edition, we can provide assistance in terms of letters of support about the programme to assist with requests for funding or for visa applications.  In future editions, we would love to cover the full travel cost of successful applicants, so that money isn't a limitation to applying.  (Suggested sponsors welcome!) 

- Bruges looks nice. Where can I find out more about the city?

It is nice. Check out the official city sites at VISIT BRUGES and VISIT FLANDERS or watch the film IN BRUGES. 

- What if I don't finish my script in two weeks? 

If you need to take a little more time to fine tune the project before sharing it with the industry panel for feedback, that's fine. They will be reading remotely, so we can send it on when it's ready. 

- What materials do I need to bring?

Whatever you usually write on -  notepad, laptop. If you don't have access to a laptop and usually write on a computer, we can organise one for you to use while here. Sheets and towels provided. We have paper and post it notes, and pens if you need. Other than that, just your typical clothes and personal items, toiletries for a two week trip. If you have access to a camera or a camera phone, it's a beautiful place for taking photos.

- I'm worried about sharing my script ideas. 

It's always good to be aware of and take measures to protect your copyrights. Here's a handy article about that. We won't share your script publicly (if selected, we may share a short synopsis and logline you've approved) and you can decide and track what you share with us and what you send to our industry panelists.

- Who will I meet on the residency?

Company directors Konstantinos & Elizabeth will also be staying in the studio house during the residency, along with the studio cat.

- But, I'm allergic to cats. 

Sorry, the studio cat is non-negotiable.

- I have special dietary needs. How does that work?

If you have special dietary needs, we will do our best to accommodate that. Please let us know in the  'Anything else you think we should know' section of the form.

- What if I have a physical challenge with stairs?

As is typical of older Bruges homes, the residency room is up several flights of stairs, and the shower is also upstairs, which may be unsuitable for wheelchair users or people who have difficulty with stairs. We will do our best to accommodate any other challenges.  Please let us know in the  'Anything else you think we should know' section of the form so we can work through any logistics with you.

- My script isn't in English.

In order for us to review the submissions, to participate in the residency, and for the panel to read and give useful feedback, it is necessary to have the script translated into English. If your project will ultimately be translated to and produced in another language, that's fine. 





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