Screenwriter and graduate Krysty Wilson-Cairns receives honorary doctorate from RCS

Screenwriter and graduate Krysty Wilson-Cairns receives honorary doctorate from RCS

Published: 01/07/2021

Take risks and make mistakes … that’s the advice from one of the film industry’s brightest stars as she received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) today.

Screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns – who will co-write a new Star Wars movie with Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi – shared her words of wisdom with graduating students at Scotland’s national conservatoire.

© Robert McFadzean

The honorary doctorate (Doctor of Film) recognises Krysty’s outstanding achievements in film in a career that has taken her from Glasgow’s southside to Hollywood. The degree was conferred in a Covid-safe ceremony at Glasgow Film Theatre and filmed for a segment for the three livestream graduation ceremonies throughout the day.

Addressing RCS students and graduands, and those who dream of following in her footsteps, she said: “You are in an amazing incubation period where you can do absolutely anything, you can make anything, everything’s at your hands and fingers and feet, you’re in the middle of a kind of melting pot.

“I would advise you to go all-in, try and do everything that you absolutely can, make all those films, make them in your spare time, do the extra-curricular work. The other thing I would advise you to do is learn from the people in your class as well, make really good friendships, lifelong friendships, work together, critique each other.

“Then the last thing, that I think is maybe the most important, is to go out and make mistakes. It’s really important to make mistakes while you’re at university, I mean it’s important to always make mistakes, but if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not taking risks, and that’s what the RCS allowed me, to take loads of risks in my formative years.”

Krysty has enjoyed a stellar rise to fame since graduating from the Digital Film and Television programme at RCS in 2009, now the BA Filmmaking degree. She co-wrote World War One epic and box office smash 1917 with director Sam Mendes that scooped a string of awards including seven BAFTAs, two Golden Globes and three Oscars – and earned Krysty her first Oscar nomination in the Original Screenplay category.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns on 1917 set with Sam Mendes and script supervisor Nicoletta Mani. Francois DuhamelUniversal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

Krysty Wilson-Cairns on 1917 set with director Sam Mendes and script supervisor Nicoletta Mani. Image © Francois Duhamel/Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

Krysty also co-wrote Last Night in Soho with acclaimed director Edgar Wright. The psychological thriller, which hits cinema screens in October this year, is set in London with a cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Dame Diana Rigg, Matt Smith and Terence Stamp. Last year, it was announced that Krysty will take on one of the world’s biggest and best-loved movie franchises. Krysty and Taika Waititi – who won Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit at the 2020 Oscars – will co-write the script for the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars feature film, with Waititi also on directing duties.

© Robert McFadzean

Krysty said: “To receive this honorary doctorate is just mind-blowing. I never thought I would be honoured in this way, and to be honoured by the Royal Conservatoire is so special to me because it has been such a huge part of my life. To be recognised for your work in front of your peers, in front of your friends and family, and where you grew up, is just really special. I had an incredible time when I was here.”

Krysty also reflected on her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and how it prepared her for the industry: “It was the fact that you got to do hands-on filmmaking. To be a practitioner and not a student was the most important thing to me and that’s what the RCS gave me.

“I learned interpersonal skills, how to work with actors, with filmmakers, with people across every discipline. That’s really under-rated, people don’t think of that as a skill that you necessarily go to learn but it’s so imbued in the ethos of the RCS. That massively informed my career going forward, because I never felt like there was a discipline in film and TV that I hadn’t either met someone in or worked in or had a friend in. It gave me a touchstone in every aspect of the career I wanted to go into.”

© Robert McFadzean

Principal Sharkey added: “Krysty Wilson-Cairns is an inspiration to students here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the next generation of screenwriters and filmmakers around the globe. It has been wonderful to watch her career skyrocket, taking her from Glasgow to Hollywood with so many achievements along the way, including her first Oscar nomination that we’re sure won’t be her last. It’s also hugely exciting that Krysty will become part of the legendary Star Wars franchise. This honorary doctorate is a tribute to an exceptionally talented and dedicated artist who we are proud to call one of our own.”


Picture yourself here: find out more about studying on the BA Filmmaking degree at RCS


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