ENGAGE is a training and project development programme for emerging writers, directors and producers. Held across Dublin, Edinburgh, Tallinn and Helsinki, it is designed to foster international collaborations.

Mia Ylönen graduated with an MA in Screenwriting from Screen Academy Scotland in 2011 and went on to become an ENGAGE prize winner for her thriller ’Frost Island’.  Winners of ENGAGE receive  up to €3000, as well as make invaluable contacts and training from industry personnel.  

“Berlinale 2014 brought together yet another fine batch of Engage alumni – and surprising news about the future of the program. Did you know we’re living the last months of Engage as we know it? Neither did I. Hearing the news at the Engage alumni seminar (Monday, Feb 12th) made me a bit pre-nostalgic.

But let’s hear the details first, as programme leader Robin MacPherson briefed us over the seminar: The MEDIA funding for initial training is coming to a close in its present state, and moving under the newly introduced Erasmus+ programme. In practise this means that Engage will draw to a close after the 2014 run.

But don’t pull out your handkerchiefs just yet – there are still different options left for the future of Engage, as Robin told us. The programme could continue under a different title; or under the same name but in a different format. Some new partner institutions might be introduced to the mix. Or, workshops are held separately for directors, writers, and producers, perhaps with a more practical approach to project development (actor run-throughs etc.).

Interesting. Hearing the news made think about my experience in the programme in 2011. All the friends I made, the projects we developed, the parties we had, the funny, weird, and even scary moments I had over the course of the year. Indeed, I’ll never forget that dreadful moment of pitching your project to a panel of industry professionals. My knees were literally shaking. (Of course, seeing some of the panellists hoarding drinks at the following wrap party was a sobering sight, so to speak.)

Personally and professionally, Engage has been a joyride for me. I’ve made lifelong friends (bad jokes tend to bring like-minded people together), and gotten an Irish production company attached to my script through a fellow Engage alumni, the lovely and talented Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair. I’ve been lucky enough to attend two of the alumni seminars organised during the Berlinale Film Festival. This year, the speakers included producer Helge Albers from Flying Moon Production  (“train your pitch, and be memorable”), and video-on-demand consultant Philipp Hoffmann (“awareness is the currency in VoD markets, success is brought with marketing”).

Seminar speakers: Helge Albers of Flying Moon, Prof. Robin MacPherson, Director, Institute for Creative Industries & Screen Academy Scotland and Philipp Hoffmann of VOD Consulting.

Borrowing Hoffman’s words, I believe the contacts you make are the currency of Engage. So I hope that this indeed is not the end of Engage!

And if it is – I’m looking forward to the wrap party.”



Mia Ylönen
Screenwriter, Engage Alumni 2011
Mia Ylönen graduated with a Screenwriting MA from Screen Academy Scotland, and now works in Finland.