NFTS Celebrates Achievements Of Class Of 2023 With Jam Packed Week Of Screenings And Ceremony Honouring Screenwriter Jack Thorne

The National Film and Television School’s (NFTS) Graduate Showcase, supported by BBC Studios, is an annual celebration of the past 12 months of graduate productions. The School’s flagship event serves as a significant platform for the careers of its fledgling graduating students, premiering their work to an industry keen to connect directly with the next wave of highly skilled craftspeople emerging from the NFTS.

group of students smiling
NFTS Producing MA graduates

The NFTS Graduate Showcase took place over four days of screenings and industry meet and greets at the BFI Southbank, culminating in a graduation ceremony at Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square on Friday 3rd March.

The ceremony saw Jack Thorne, renowned screenwriter and prominent advocate for the disabled community, awarded with an Honorary Fellowship by the NFTS in recognition of the exceptional contribution he has made to the film and television industry both as a writer and as a campaigner for disability access and inclusion.

During the ceremony, NFTS Chair Sophie Turner Laing told the assembled students that the exceptional industry demand for craftspeople with their newly minted skills and qualifications meant “there has never been a more exciting time to join the creative industries and become the storytellers of the future.”

Jack Thorne and NFTS Chair Sophie Turner Laing
Jack Thorne and NFTS Chair Sophie Turner Laing

Made by the School’s most diverse cohort of film, television and games students to date, an enviable slate of over 80 innovative shorts, brand new television formats, animations, documentaries, comedies, commercials and games were unveiled to audiences of industry decision-makers seeking out the next generation of dynamic, set ready creators and crew. 

Students received awards at the graduation ceremony for the highest levels of achievement in production. Chosen annually by key NFTS industry partners; Sargent-Disc, Avid, Christie, IOSH and Panalux, the following graduating students were recognised for their stellar work:


Lisa Kenney
Lisa Kenney

Directing Animation MA student Lisa Kenney was awarded the coveted Christie prize for the Most Promising Student, receiving a personalised crystal trophy alongside a prize of £1,000.

Robert Bradbrook, Head of the NFTS Directing Animation MA commented: “Lisa is a wonderful and caring student who understands that the process of making a film is just as important as the final animation. Not just her journey but the students that work with her. She always goes out of her way to ensure that the needs of others come first, resulting in a supportive family environment that allows everyone to do their best work. Lisa is an inspiration to staff and students - a true ambassador of the National Film and Television School.”


The Panalux Award For Best Cinematography was awarded to Cinematography MA student Toby Elwes for his work on Fiction film Dive. Toby was awarded a generous seven-day lighting hire package.  

The Panalux jury commented: “Masterfully told, Dive is a great example of cinematography creating the kind of mood which draws one into the world of the story. The cinematographer made bold choices with a consistent voice throughout, demonstrating genuine expertise of the craft. The camerawork includes slow zooms and tracks, creating great tension and placing the viewer alongside the characters. There was a beauty, honesty, and simplicity to the lighting, with wonderful use of practicals in an incredibly designed set. Stylised lighting choices still felt natural in the environment and the dark, contrasted lighting in the claustrophobic chamber only enhanced the atmosphere. It was clear the cinematographer and director shared the same vision and as a result, they expertly created a tense atmosphere which served the story perfectly.”


The 2023 Sargent-Disc Award was presented to two students graduating from the Production Management Diploma. Gemma Wilks and Emily Morgan displayed excellent budgeting and cost control management as well as effective reporting skills. Sargent-Disc awarded the winning students with £500 and Final Draft software.

Dr Laurence Sargent, Director, Sargent-Disc said: “Sargent-Disc is delighted to recognise the hard work and achievements of all of the NFTS students that have successfully completed their studies. We wish them every success as they embark on their careers. Sargent-Disc is particularly proud to support this year's NFTS Production Managers with this award in addition to providing an annual scholarship for two students.”


The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Award of £1,000 for Health and Safety Management in Film Production was presented to documentary production PromisedLand™

Prizes were handed to three graduating students for their work on PromisedLand™ - Directing Documentary MA graduate Frank Martin and to Ciara McKenna and Sophie Outhwaite, graduates of the Production Management Diploma.

NFTS Production Health and Safety Manager Sunny Bains, commented: “The extensive risks the students handle across genres is to be commended. The IOSH judges praised the diligent safety planning and preparation on PromisedLand™, which enabled the filmmakers to push creative boundaries. Providing the next generation with top notch safety skills is vital and we’d like to extend a huge thanks to IOSH for their continued support.”


The 2023 winner of the Avid Award for Excellence in Composing went to Composing MA graduate Samuel Read who was awarded Sibelius Ultimate software.

The Avid jury commented: “Throughout his time at the NFTS, Sam has continually shown a diligent approach to his work, engaging in the projects conscientiously and producing work to a consistently high standard. His graduation projects and sessions at AIR studios being an excellent example of this, which have illustrated his flare as a composer and orchestrator and also shown his understanding of narrative story telling.”

The Avid Award for Excellence in Sound Design went to Sound Design MA graduate Luke Barnfather for Animation film Mum’s Spaghetti. Dan was awarded Avid’s Pro Tools® Ultimate software.

Simon Sherbourne, Avid’s Audio Application Specialist said: “Luke's sound on Mum's Spaghetti works hand in hand with the visuals to shape a wonderful tone for this film and its characters. It is vibrant and engaging without ever being intrusive, and helps the whole piece flow effortlessly. Congratulations Luke!”

The Avid Award for Excellence in Editing went to Editing MA graduate Donya Maguire for her work on fiction film Dive.  Donya was awarded Avid Media Composer® Ultimate software.

The Avid jury said: “The standard of editing in the films submitted was of an extremely high standard. We decided one demonstrated the skill and importance of the editor’s role in storytelling. We felt that Dive had been carefully crafted in the editing room, with confidence and an understanding of pace, creating a tense and emotional film that holds you until the very end.”

Congratulations to all this year’s prize-winning students and a huge thank you to all our industry partners and supporters!

Industry members can view online all the work featured as part of the NFTS Graduate Showcase 2023:

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