The British film industry could not be in better shape. Smash hit successes including Notting Hill and Shakespeare In Love have put it back on the map once and for all, writes Zahra Borno.

And Oxford is certainly doing its bit for the industry. Former Magdalen College School pupil and film director Sam Mendes picked up a cluster of Oscars last month for his work on the feature film American Beauty.

And now a talented new script writer from east Oxford has just bounced on to the scene.

Ewan Kilgour, 33, of James Street, has recently completed an award-winning script, called Feet Up.

The script tells what happens when the body of a young woman is found floating feet up in the sea, just off a Scottish island.

Speculation mounts throughout the black comic thriller and questions are raised as her friends and family ask: Did she drown or was she murdered?

The script was entered in this year's script-writing contest The Orange Prize, sponsored by the mobile phone company, where it competed against more than 1,000 entries for one of the top three prizes of 10,000. A top panel of judges including actors Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson and writer of The Full Monty Simon Beaufoy chose the final shortlist of three scripts. Next year, one overall script will be chosen to be made into a full-length feature film by film company Pathe Pictures.

Robert Carlyle, star of the hit film The Full Monty, said: "I was extremely impressed with the very high quality of scripts. It was a very difficult decision to select just three to receive the prizes but I hope that all the writers have been encouraged by their progress in this competition."

Ewan, a computer programmer, took a seven-month break from his job at Oxford University so he could get down to writing the script.

He had had the idea bubbling away for a while but needed to find the time to put pen to paper.

Before starting the project he completed a part-time scriptwriting course funded by the European Union. The course, held in Spain, Holland and Denmark, was attended by young scriptwriters from all over Europe over a period of seven months.

The aim of the course is to encourage the European film industry to compete on an even footing against the heavy-weight Hollywood-based branch of the industry.

The course was not Ewan's first introduction to the world of film. In 1995 he won a contest organised by the First Film Foundation and he has also written a script for a short film Marvin the Metal-eating Baby which is currently being filmed.

Ewan says: "I have always wanted to write a feature-length script and thought this would be a good opportunity to do that. "Winning this award could open all sorts of doors. It is a brilliant chance for me, especially if the script is picked to be made into a film.

"I think the British film industry is going from strength to strength at the moment. A fair amount of successful films have been produced over the past few years and it is continuing to grow."

Ewan will spend the next six months working closely with writers from Pathe Pictures to finely tune the script.

He will use part of his cash prize to help fund a further break from his job.

Winning this competition could prove to be Ewan's lucky break and be the first step on the long road to scooping an Oscar for himself and another one to bring home to Oxford.