We would like to congratulate no fewer than three of our alumni who have been included in BAFTA’s 2017 list of 20 of the UK’s most promising future stars of film, games and television.

Choë Thomson (NFTS Cinematography MA graduate), Mahalia Belo (NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate) and Segun Akinola (NFTS Composing for Film and Television MA graduate) have been named as Breakthrough Brits at an event hosted by Maya Jama at the global Burberry flagship store on Regent Street in London. The group will be supported by BAFTA over the next 12 months as they progress their careers.

Actor and Breakthrough Brits juror Will Poulter said: “I jumped at the chance to be part of the Breakthrough Brits Jury because what I love most about BAFTA as an organisation is that it isn’t just commending people for reaching a certain height in their career. They are also doing so much work to nurture talent and provide people with the opportunity to get to that level.”

Chloë was given her first 35mm camera when she was 16, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she took her first steps towards becoming a professional cinematographer. After taking a keen interest in the art of cinematography, Chloë went on to study the subject at the NFTS. As a place where you shoot and create nearly every day, she describes her time there as a steep learning curve, but one that has made her what she is today. Chloë says that, as a DP, you rely on projects coming to you from other people, and so building good relationships with filmmakers is important for your future.

Mahalia wanted to work in film the moment she saw her first movie, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Growing up, she shot thousands of photographs, even developing her own 35mm film in the family bathroom. But the moment she first understood the role of director was when she gained work experience on the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley with director Anthony Minghella.  As an undergraduate, Mahalia realised that she liked stories which began from a feeling, and at the NFTS she found herself in a world-class school that gave her the time to work with actors and crews that shared her passion. Having won a BAFTA for Ellen, her first long-form drama for television, Mahalia is now working towards her debut feature.

Having played piano and drums since the age of five, it clicked eventually for Segun that composing for the screen would allow him to combine his love of both music and stories, and after a stint of work experience with a features composer, he was convinced it was where his future lay. After graduating with a BA in Composition from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and then from an MA in Composing for Film and Television at the NFTS, Segun began building his credits as a composer for the screen. Before long, Segun would score BBC Two’s landmark series Black and British: A Forgotten History. His breakthrough in features came when he composed fellow NFTS graduate, Shola Amoo’s A Moving Image. For anyone wanting to get into composing, Segun’s advice is to listen to as many different types of music as possible, and to analyse what you hear so that you can build an understanding of your medium.