Starlight Residency
Seeking new filmmakers with dark thoughts for a fairytale writer’s residency

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges, 2018

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges, 2018

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency


The 2019 edition of the Starlight Residency will take place in Late Summer/Early Autumn of 2019 in Montreal, Quebec! Applications will open in


January, 2019

As filmmaking nomads, our studio is moving to Montreal this year! Once we’re all set up in the new space, we’ll set the dates of the call for entry.


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 shooting her new web series Netfl!x & Kill season 2. You can watch season 1 on YouTube now.



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


Sponsored by:

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges

The Starlight Filmmaker Residency in Bruges



Meet our 2018 panel helping feedback and guide the resident filmmaker's script.



Anne Billson is a writer, photographer and film critic who lives in Belgium. Her books include monographs on John Carpenter's The Thing and Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In, and four horror novels: Suckers, Stiff Lips, The Ex and The Coming Thing. She is currently working on a screenplay with Harry Kümel, director of the 1971 cult vampire film Daughters of Darkness.



Janice Ferri Esser is an American writer known for her work on the daytime television serials The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. A staff writer on these CBS soaps since 1989, Esser has seven Emmy awards and five Writers Guild of America awards. During her tenure, she has written the dialogue equivalent of well over 1,000 feature films



João Fleck is the founder, director and producer of Fantaspoa Film Festival, which is the biggest genre film festival in Latin America. In the last five years he participated as a producer (associated and co-producer) in ten feature films.



Rosie Fletcher Film person. Horror person. Book person. UK Editor @denofgeek, and served as film editor at Digital Spy.



A fervent fan of all things cinema, Tom Kiesecoms started writing for ScreenAnarchy in 2016. He has an MA in Arts and Literature and, following a two-year stint with the Razor Reel Flanders Film Festival, joined the programming team of the Lund International Fantastic Film Festival in 2018.



Briony Kidd is a graduate of the VCA Film School in Melbourne and currently lives in and works in Tasmania, Australia. She's the co-founder and director of the Stranger With My Face International Film Festival, which focuses on women's perspectives in dark genre. It was recently named in Movie Maker Magazine’s list of The World’s 15 Bloody Best Genre Fests. Briony wrote/directed the gothic melodrama The Room at the Top of the Stairs, which can be see on the Shudder platform. Her most recent appointment is to the board of the newly formed national organisation, Women in Film and Television (WIFT) Australia.



Jeremy Sheldon is a writer and development executive with 20 years' experience in film, publishing and higher education working across a broad range of commercial genres. Previous and current collaborators include award-winning directors and producers as well as governments, charities and global corporations. He also lectures on screenwriting, development and filmmaking at the University of Sussex.



Melancholy Star is a boutique production company and VFX studio creating unique features and art for film, based in Montreal and London, UK.  2019 sees the release of Melancholy Star’s third in-house feature film ‘The Fear of Looking Up’ 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.’


Applications Open:


Applications Close:


Selection Announced:










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.

For 2019, the residency will take place in uber-cool Montreal.

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 their daily life, inspired by the vibrant city of Montreal.


The Residency spans a two week period in Montreal, Quebec. 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, and accomodation details will be available when applications open.

  • The programme provides room and board during the two-week residency.

  • 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 Montreal. 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.



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

Submissions will open for the 2019 residency will open in Spring 2019.

  • 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.



Name *


- 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 Montreal?

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!) 

- 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 city 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.

- 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?

We will have accomodation and accessibility details closer to the residency application opening date. 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.