This Is Scotland - Tips From The Top

Advice for your This is Scotland submission from Elizabeth Partyka, Deputy Director of Channels at STV.

With This is Scotland in its third season, we’re keen to inspire and entice the best up-and-coming filmmakers to make submissions. Earlier in the month we organised an Inspiration Workshop in Glasgow, when we were lucky to be joined by Elizabeth Partyka, Deputy Director of Channels at STV. Elizabeth shared her experience, knowledge and tips on how to make the best submission to the initiative.


Still from 2016 This Is Scotland film 'Black Rat Island'

Know your audience

The old adage has never been more true than when it comes to TV; you absolutely have to know your audience. Being familiar with the audience for a particular timeslot is a major clue to what might get commissioned. STV’s This is Scotland documentaries are broadcast at prime time, 8pm on Monday nights, between two episode of Coronation Street.

So who watches at that time?

Every day around 1.5 million people watch STV for at least 3 minutes, with the average viewer watching for 1 hour 42 minutes a day. Add to that 70,000 daily streams on the STV Player.

On Monday nights at peak time, between 6pm and 10:30pm, STV attracts over 400,000 viewers on average with over a million watching the recent series of Broadchurch currently running on Monday evenings. In 2016, 47 out of the 50 best watched programmes on commercial TV in Scotland were all broadcast on STV.  

Last year’s This is Scotland documentary, Black Rat Island, was watched by nearly 300,000 viewers, showing a genuine appetite for documentary and character-driven stories. The audience will stay with you if you can grab them and they will want to be entertained as well as informed.

Who are these people?

STV is a bit of a mirror. Our audience think of us as friendly, Scottish, entertaining and informative, and if that’s what they like, that’s probably who they are too. As a filmmakers for the This is Scotland slot, this could be an opportunity to challenge yourself more than your audience, to reach out generously with an idea that has the potential to draw in the biggest crowd. 

(SDI note: You can see some of the reactions we got to last year's films on our Storify HERE.)

So what are the golden rules?

  • Think about your tone - be friendly, entertaining and informative.

  • Reflect something interesting about Scotland, Scottish history or Scotland’s place in the world.

  • This is Scotland is broadcast in a commercial slot with an ad break in the middle - make the most of it.

Working around the commercial break

From the very start, think about working around the commercial break and structure your story around two parts. Make sure your first part ends with a teaser to keep the audience engaged – if they are hooked, they will come back after the break. At the start of the second part, remember to include a reprise to bring new viewers up to speed.

Don’t forget...

Consent is of the essence, and always make sure your protagonists know when the programme will air as the broadcast might impact their life.


So what are you waiting for? APPLY NOW!