Meet two Glasgow Creative Accelerator 'Founders'
Fifteen creative companies in Glasgow are currently taking part in the Glasgow Creative Accelerator, a mentorship programme to help creative businesses reach their full potential. We find out more from two of the participants
Brexit. Pandemic. Economic recession. Suffice to say, these are not exactly ideal conditions for growing your business. But 15 Glasgow companies in creative fields will be hoping to do exactly that with Glasgow Creative Accelerator, a new 12-week programme from social enterprise group Elevator, which aims to offer targeted support to help creatives reach their full potential.
Fifteen creative businesses are currently engaged in the mentorship, which kicked off in early March. Dubbed by Elevator as the ‘Founders’, these 15 companies represent an eclectic array of disciplines within the city’s creative sector. Among the cohort are fashion brands, graphic designers, filmmakers and jewellery makers. We speak to two of these ‘Founders’ – television and film outfit Scotch! and computer gaming company Chimera Tales – to find out a bit more about their business and hear how their Creative Accelerator experience is going.
Scotch! was set up by Peabody and BAFTA award-winning director Don Coutts in 2015, with development producer Alistair Ferguson joining the company to help take ideas forward. “Scotch! was assembled to deliver productions for BBC Scotland,” Ferguson explains over Zoom. “With my coming into the business, I very much wanted to cast the net further afield. So I'm looking at international commissions and other networks.”
Right now they have “around 45 ideas on the go” although the focus is a “very meaty history documentary” that’s currently in production. Titled The Rigs of Nigg, the doc tells how a small village in the Highlands near the entrance to the Cromarty Firth became the hub for a new type of industry when the Forties Oil Field, the largest oil field in the North Sea, was discovered in the 1970s.
Extracting the oil was going to be a challenge. “That area of [The North Sea] has some of the most extreme conditions on the planet due to the wind and the power of the waves, and it can change in an instant,” says Ferguson. “So they knew that the structure was going to be big. And due to the size of that structure, they had to build it somewhere close.”
After an extensive search by BP, they settled on Nigg. “It turned out this little town, which at that point had only ever been known for its farming, its fishing and its faith, was one of the only places that had the ideal location and a channel of water deep enough to build the enormous oil rig required.”
Nigg was transformed – practically overnight. “Five thousand men and their families descended on this tiny Highland village,” says Ferguson. “So you can imagine, it was a very difficult transition period. So we’re trying to tell that story, but the men and women who were there are slowly passing away. So we have to get in there and get these stories now.”
Chimera Tales is a similarly small company with big ambitions. “Our long-term goal is to focus on the development of engaging games with social, political, and historical aspects,” says Máté Tóth Ridovics, Chimera Tales’ creative director and the game artist of the team. They could hardly find a darker aspect of history to delve into than with the game on which they’re currently working. Called Hotel Arcanum, it’s a story-driven game digging into transgenerational Holocaust trauma.
“It’s a mixture of dialogue-focused narrative games and deduction-focused detective games,” says Ridovics, “where the player has to gently reveal the personal history of a three-generation family. Despite its topic, it is a game with a strong contemporary narrative focus, therefore we think it could be engaging for a wider audience and contribute to the remembrance culture at the same time.”
For Ridovics, the chief reason he wanted to be part of Glasgow Creative Accelerator is simply to help Chimera Tales grow. “We think it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to widen our business network,” he says. “Also, being able to look at our game from another perspective with the help of business mentors or other creatives is highly useful to see all the aspects and potential of the project you are working on.”
Ferguson, meanwhile, is hoping the Creative Accelerator will help recalibrate his approach to business. “There are so many things in business that, as a creative and visual thinker, you don't necessarily think about,” he says. “We can definitely package an idea. We can tell a story. But how do you get the best return for that story? How do you act and deal on it on the international stage?”
When we speak to Ferguson, he’s only three weeks into his mentorship, but it’s clear he’s already thinking in more entrepreneurial ways. “It's very easy, I think, if you’re, say, a company who cuts hair or sells coffee, to know who your customers are. [Creative Accelerator] has helped open my eyes and to actually start thinking, 'OK, this channel is our customer; what are their needs and desires?' So we’re beginning to understand ourselves more as a company, and we’re also starting to understand our buyers more.”
For more information on the Glasgow Creative Accelerator, head to elevatoruk.com/accelerators/glasgow-creative-accelerator