Heather closes in on top film award

Mallaig filmmaker Heather Manson's comedy drama 'Esther' may just set her on the way to bright career in film.

Want to read more?

At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic. The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thank you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time.

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

Mallaig filmmaker Heather Manson has been making great strides in her career by achieving finalist status in The Pitch Film Fund.

Applying to the fund for the first time, Heather pitched her comedy story idea, Esther, and made it through several rounds of voting, elevating her to within the top 10 filmmakers this year with the hope of gaining The Production Award worth £35,000, when she pitches her story idea at the National Film and Television School in January.

Having attended Mallaig Primary and Mallaig High School, Heather then set off to Aberystwyth university to study film and TV.

She told us: ‘I developed an interest in film at school and had some great teachers who let me wander around with a video camera in order to make a short film and shoot stills in black and white. The school had its own dark room to develop film as one of the teacher was an enthusiast.

Known locally as ‘Raymond Manson’s daughter’, Heather also did extracurricular drama along with her peers and was able to take a play to the Edinburgh fringe one year.

Now 38, Heather has spent 15 years of her career on the other side of the camera as a freelance hair and makeup artist in the film industry; she has made a few short films but feels that now is the time to start pushing filmmaking further.

The attraction of The Pitch for Heather was the top prize of production support to produce her own short film idea.  Not one who enjoys producing herself, the idea of gaining that support was very appealing to her as one day she would like to move over to directing full time. Winning this award could just give her the platform she needs.

Esther is a comedy drama based on the biblical character, Queen Esther.  Heather was keen to demonstrate that the Bible contains humour and strong female characters, and she felt Esther fitted the bill beautifully.

Describing the story Heather said: ‘Esther is a good self-contained story.

‘It is a human story and very relatable.  A strong female, Esther is about the journey of a woman who has been given the responsibility of power.  I also wanted to include comedy and show that it is good to laugh when things get tough.’

Director of The Pitch, Luke Walton, explained why Heather’s entry caught the eye of the judges: ‘Heather Manson, the filmmaker behind Esther, clearly understood the motivations and conflicts present in the original story of Queen Esther, which made her modern interpretation feel timeless and timely,’ he said.

‘A razor-sharp pitch, which weaved wit and cutting social commentary, was clearly a product of a strong idea backed up with deftness of touch.’

The winning filmmaker will receive a unique opportunity to have their film made with The Production Fund cash budget of £35,000-worth of production support and a career development trip tailored to their needs.

Established in 2009, The Pitch film fund focuses on nurturing and developing emerging talent. The Pitch invites filmmakers to submit a two-minute video online, pitching their idea for a short film drawing on the Bible for inspiration.  This can be in any genre and emerge from any perspective but must demonstrate skills in adaption as it draws on any story, passage, character, or theme in the Bible.

Further awards are available for runners up. The Pitch Support Award of £2,000 production budget to develop their film idea is available to the two runners up and The Lucy Scher Award will be presented to the most outstanding female finalist.

The judging panel for 2020/21 includes Col Needham, (Founder and Creator of IMDb movie database website), Destiny Ekaragha, Jasmin Morrison, Justine Hart and Dr Jon Wardle (Director of National Film and Television School).

The finals will be held at The National Film and Television School on January 16 and 17, 2021.