Long-time BFI executive Isabel Davis is to step down from her role as Head Of International to become Executive Director of Scotland’s Screen Unit. Davis will take up her post at the film and TV body within Creative Scotland in September.
Davis is a well known figure in the UK and on the international circuit with good talent, producer and financier relationships. Her BFI role combined editorial, production and policy expertise. As a production executive she worked on films including Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War which premiered at Cannes 2018 in Official Selection; Haifaa Al Mansour’s Mary Shelley, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2017; Yorgos Lanthimos’s Oscar-nominated The Lobster, which premiered in Official Competition at Cannes Film Festival 2015; and the forthcoming films from Claire Denis and Victor Kossakovsky. She also backed the development of films from Scottish talent including David Mackenzie and Rona Munro.
Davis negotiated the film co-production treaty between the UK and China, which was ratified in 2016, and contributed to the negotiation of the UK’s TV co-production treaty with China, ratified in 2017. She also negotiated the audiovisual co-production treaty between the UK and Brazil, ratified in 2017. She joined the UK Film Council in 2006 and transferred to the BFI in 2011. She became head of international in 2012.
At the Screen Unit she will work with Scotland’s partnership agencies to deliver the ambitions set out in the country’s Collaborative Screen Proposal. She will hold overall responsibility to deliver the Screen Unit targets to double film and TV production spend in Scotland by 2022/23. The aim will be to drive growth and she will negotiate new Screen sector deals and partnerships in Scotland, across the UK, and internationally. The Screen Unit is a partnership between Creative Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.
The interview panel comprised: Iain Munro, Deputy CEO, Creative Scotland; Robert Wilson, Chair, Creative Scotland; Barclay Price, Board Member, Creative Scotland (and Chair of the Screen Committee); Gillian Berrie, Sigma Films; John McCormick, Chair of Screen Sector Leadership Group; Karen Lannigan, Director of HR, Creative Scotland; and Lesly Gilmartin, Badenoch and Clark (recruitment partner).
Davis said, “The new Screen Unit represents a step change in opportunity for Scotland’s screen industries. With a doubling of resources to £20m each year and a shared strategic vision, it’s time for Scotland’s talented film and TV sectors to fulfill their potential, and to create a highly attractive environment for incoming creative companies and productions.
“It’s an enormous privilege to be joining Creative Scotland and to be given the responsibility of leading the Screen Unit and promoting and supporting Scotland’s phenomenal range of screen talent, facilities, crews, locations and the broader industry.
“I’m so grateful to my amazing colleagues and collaborators who’ve made my time at the BFI such a wonderful adventure, and I’m looking forward to working with many of them as I now focus on helping Scotland’s screen industries achieve the level of success they so richly deserve. I can’t wait to get started in September.”
Iain Munro, Deputy Chief Executive of Creative Scotland and chair of the recruitment panel, commented, “The Screen Industries in Scotland are currently experiencing significant growth in terms of production spend, with huge ambition and potential for so much more. At a time when budgets for supporting Screen through Creative Scotland are doubling to help deliver that, I am delighted to announce Isabel’s appointment as the Executive Director who will lead this bright future for Screen in Scotland.
Ben Roberts, Director of the BFI Film Fund, added, “Congratulations to Isabel, and also to Creative Scotland – this is a great appointment, and Isabel will be an incredible asset to Scotland at the new Screen Unit. Her UK and international networks, her knowledge, and the regard in which she is held across the industry are peerless. We will all miss her, but look forward to working with her in her new role. Nice one Isabel.”