Develop Create XR

Develop Create XR

A genre-driven immersive script development Lab programme

Develop Create XR is a free national cinematic extended narrative writing and world-building development programme.  Aimed at genre driven writers looking to develop playable genre fiction for an immersive story. Delivered in partnership with Screen South and Immersive Playable Culture specialists, BRiGHTBLACK.

Whether applicants are newcomers to immersive space or seasoned explorers, this is a unique opportunity to share, collaborate and grow alongside fellow creators who bring diverse backgrounds and levels of experience to the table. 

What does the Develop Create XR programme involve?

Develop-Create XR is a free 9-month programme where writers will delve into the fascinating realm of XR, encompassing virtual and mixed reality, games, and film to explore new ways of developing cinematic XR concepts and scripts to develop projects that provide players immersive experiences that go beyond the current film and games offer.

Focusing on genre-driven narratives your journey will explore different story telling techniques such as cinematic Point of View, interactive formats driven by player choices, branching narratives tailored for VR headsets as well as screen and engaging interactions powered by Unity and Unreal games engines.

We will give you opportunities to delve into the world you create, you will learn about a range of XR techniques that allow you to push boundaries of storytelling in the boundless creative world of XR.   Through this exploration, you will uncover new possibilities, experiment with innovative tools, and ultimately pave the way for groundbreaking story telling experiences in the ever-expanding world of Extended Reality.

Develop-Create XR will give writers the opportunity to work with leading creatives and production partners drawn from the film, XR and games industries, to develop ground-breaking immersive narratives. 

We encourage you to put audiences at the centre of your stories, giving audiences the choice of whose lens they wish to navigate, resulting in a refreshing new viewpoint on how stories are told.  Writers will be supported with industry routes to market.

Participants will have all travel and accommodation paid for. They will also receive a Daily Attendance Bursary of £110 for Lab days.

If writers wish to bring a collaborator such as a producer with them, they may do but costs must be paid by them.

Inspire & Apply Sessions

To help you find out more about Develop-Create XR, the Screen South and BRiGHTBLACK teams are traveling to different locations in the South and Midlands to meet potential applicants, tell you more about the programme, and answer your questions. These sessions require pre-booking and are first come, first serve.

Click the icons below to book a session.


19 june 2024 • 6pm - 8pm

Screen South Digital Hub, Digital:Glassworks, Mill Bay, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1JG


02 july 2024 • 6pm - 8pm

Lighthouse, 28 Kensington Street, Brighton, BN1 4AJ


08 july 2024 • 6pm - 8pm

Birmingham Open Media, 12 Dudley Street, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4EA


16 July 2024 • 6pm - 8pm

The Canteen, 80 Stokes Croft Hamilton House, Bristol, BS1 3QY

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for a Develop-Create XR cohort of writers looking to make genre-based immersive stories (Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Suspense Thrillers and Action Adventure) aimed at national and international audiences. Your idea should have cultural relevance and progressive ideas, take risks in form and content, and tell compelling stories that gives audiences revealing gripping insights into true stories, myths, or flights of fantasy. You may be a scriptwriter who would like a safe space to develop your ideas in the new immersive storytelling arena. You may be a TV or short film writer, or a graphic novel writer, or perhaps a journalist. The main thing we are looking for are those who can tell a good story and want to explore new ways of getting it across to audiences.

It’s not essential for applicants to have any previous knowledge of immersive storytelling. However, we do want to know what immersive idea you would be developing during the Lab, even if you don’t know exactly how it would be made or how you will tell it. We will ask you to submit a sample of your writing. 

We will support writers to be inspired and challenged by exploring current immersive storytelling work with the people behind them. By engaging with experienced storytellers, filmmakers, production companies, game-makers, worldbuilders, festival curators, distributors, and financiers, we hope the shared experiences will promote an enhanced approach for writers to develop their own uniquely creative projects in a fast-moving immersive arena.

Who will be involved?

Simon Wilkinson

Simon has been making virtual reality experiences and player-centred transmedia culture since 2010. His solo VR works have featured at Tate Modern and toured to 36 nations in the past 15 years. He has been commissioned to make many VR works including for Tour de France, Roundhouse London, Fed Square Melbourne, Mutek Argentina. The worldwide tour of his large-scale VR experience ‘Whilst The Rest Were Sleeping’ (2014 to 2018) saw him reviewed by Cineuropa as “one of the most notable names in Europe to be dealing with VR”. In collaboration with Myra Appannah, as part of BRiGHTBLACK, they created Immersive StoryLab, which has been deployed through 47 editions for cultural institutions worldwide – including South Africa, Western Balkans and Venezuela. Simon’s skillset includes writing for film and theatre, Unity/Unreal engine, software development, music engineering and film.

Myra Appannah

Myra is a BAFTA and Sundance nominated writer and has written for major networks including HBO. They are an artist, musician and Unity/Unreal developer. They were Creative Lead of SOMNAI (2018) – a large-scale story experience with pioneering use of live performance, real-world sets, kinaesthetics, VR, AR, projection mapping and spatialised audio, named by the UK Innovation & Research Council as “One of the most influential British immersive productions of the last 20 years.” Myra co-founded BRiGHTBLACK with Simon Wilkinson to explore playable stories and radical ways of using the technologies behind them. They have toured the world with works and labs, partnering with major institutions such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sydney Opera House, the National Institute of the Dramatic Arts (Australia), British Council and hundreds of grassroots organisations.

Penrose Tackie

Penrose is an interactive content expert and has worked for several years in the entertainment and technology sectors in senior leadership roles.   

He is currently a commercial consultant and mentor for a base of seed and post-seed gaming and technology sector business, including an ongoing business mentor role with The Prince’s Trust.

Where will the workshops take place?


21 - 23 september 2024
  • Introduction to Immersive Storytelling
  • Understanding the opportunity of the game engines, Watch & Learn – XR experiences & the creative story,
  • XR Demo of an idea in development through to delivery.
  • Writing narrative for immersive tech, enhancing your craft, branching narratives, writing workshop – how to command attention, techniques for using the whole field of view
  • Exploring genre from a first-person perspective
  • Over the 3 days each writer will have a 121 to get feedback from the assessment and selection panel and to set an outline for the next 3 months.


17 - 19 january 2025
  • Immersive storytelling focuses on engagement. Understanding audience agency, enhance your chosen project and genre area though efficient dialogue and heightened world building.
  • Review and develop each project story arc and branching narrative journeys.
  • Enhancing tension and leading emotions.
  • Audience centered experiences, decentralised story making practices, persistence of audience contribution in the story universe, story as mass problem solving.
  • Review and Plan to present your vision.


28 - 29 april 2025
  • Play testing / white-boxing ideas for your spatial stories, to understand ways to make stronger stories in XR.  Presenting your project and understanding your next steps.
  • Review and present your projects to your peers for friendly feedback.


30 april 2025

Final day presentation to industry guests who can help take teams and projects to the appropriate next stage.

Who can apply?

Applications from Writers or Writer-Directors who have a dynamic approach to storytelling with a passion for genre driven narratives. They will have an awareness of the cultural currency they aim to work in. They do not need experiences in immersive extended narratives. They may have a draft feature/long-form project/graphic novel that could be considered for immersive development, or a treatment for genre-driven stories that could work as extended narratives. We would like to engage with producers as well, if they are attached, but it is not mandatory for writers to have a producer.

Applicants must live in the UK and meet the criteria set out by the BFI guidelines, cultural test or treaty for being British creators.

The programme is based outside of London, and Develop-Create XR is committed to geographical diversity in those selected for the programme. We welcome applicants from across the nations and regions. A nationwide and regionally inclusive approach will be at the heart of what we do. 

What will you achieve on the programme?

By the end of the programme, we would expect to support you to confidently produce the following deliverables:

  • Outline of the project script, including back bone of the story.
  • Clear outline of audience journey.
  • Branching narratives/perspectives.
  • In-depth character development.
  • Visual narrative of world setting.
  • Pitch Deck for next stage – further development or production support.
  • Presentation pack for next stage investors.
  • Marketing position awareness of project.

Key dates

Applications open: Monday 10th June 2024 – Application Form

Applications close: 9am, Wednesday 24th July 2024

Online Interviews take place: Wednesday 31st July – Friday 2nd August 2024

Participants confirmed: Friday 9th August 2024

Screen South is a National Portfolio Organisation supported by core funding from Arts Council England and UK Government. #LetsCreate