The NFTS Film Studies, Curation and Programming MA is delivered in partnership with the BFI and every year, the second year students get to experience working there on placement as part of their course. As they’ve just returned to the school following time spent in a range of departments, we caught up with them to find out more:
Eleonora: I did my placement within the BFI Festivals team and experienced working in the press, marketing and programme research departments who were busy organising the 32nd edition of the BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival. During the weeks in the run up to the event, I took care of sourcing and collecting promotional material, which involved getting in touch with distributors and sales agents, and also directly with several producers and filmmakers. The highlight of this work has certainly been the launch event itself - luckily, everything went well! What felt particularly rewarding was the warm and enthusiastic audience response to something that I had contributed to.
Jade: I worked in the BFI's Programme and Research Team, researching and scheduling upcoming seasons at the BFI Southbank. I really enjoyed trying to track down prints and rights holders for films, which involved some detective work, and I loved looking back through previous seasons at the BFI to find who to contact. It has been a privilege to help put these programmes together. Another stand-out experience was a workshop I attended about print quality. It was fascinating to see how different film stocks have worn or faded over the years, and get a taste of the broad selection of material in the BFI's Archive.
Giada: I did my BFI placement with the London Film Festival team and my main job was to help with the early preparation of LFF 2018. Having the chance to work with brilliant programmers and to learn from their curatorial knowledge and experience was a real highlight. I also learnt a lot from helping the team in some of the logistical aspects, which has given me inspiration for my own graduation project. I am very grateful for this precious opportunity that the school and the BFI have given us, it gave me not only the chance to be part of a major film festival, but also to work with talented professionals in this field.
Francesco: During my placement I worked with the curatorial archivist’s team at the BFI’s National Film Archive in Berkhamsted, helping them manage and organize the enormous moving image collection that the BFI holds. The highlight of my placement definitely came when I had the opportunity to visit the BFI Master Film Store in Gaydon, housed in the location of what was once a deposit for nuclear warheads. The Master Film Store is a unique building specifically designed to safely preserve the BFI's collection of nitrate film which is both incredibly fragile and extremely flammable.
Steven: I have been working on the BFI Player, the department of the BFI which curates and compiles all of its Video on Demand (VoD) services. Much of my placement was spent watching films and writing copy for them, a process which I thoroughly enjoyed and found myself improving upon as I gained more experience. Sitting in on various meetings regarding the upcoming Flare festival as well as liaising with distributors also gave me invaluable insight into the VoD process.
Samuel: I was working as part of the BFI DVD/Blu-ray publishing department. My role primarily involved researching the web and the BFI database for possible supplementary material to include on upcoming releases. Researching for potential DVD extras was a great way to learn more about certain films and specific elements of British cinema. Furthermore, sitting in interdepartmental meetings helped me understand how the BFI bring a project to fruition. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from such an institution, and it has helped me acquire more knowledge of film and gain experience for my future career.
Taryn: My work placement at the BFI was nothing short of fantastic. I interned for their website, bfi.org.uk, and worked across digital and editorial. My tasks spanned research, writing, interviews and presentations, as well as day-to-day administrative work. The highlights included interviewing John Trengove, the director of The Wound, as well as putting together an article on the Borderlines Film Festival recommending 10 must-see films at the festival and reviewing them accordingly. I also helped produce the latest BFI podcast. I interviewed Jon Gregory, the editor of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and wrote and presented a segment on actor Max von Sydow, who worked on 11 films with Ingmar Bergman, as a contribution towards the BFI Southbank’s current Bergman season.
Andrew: Working with Sight & Sound has been a pleasure and a great learning experience. I particularly enjoyed seeing first-hand the kind of preparation, discussion, and work that goes into publishing a world-class film magazine. Getting this opportunity from the BFI has been immensely valuable, not only from the point of view of the professional work experience that I gained but the fact that I got the chance to get an article I wrote on Edward Yang’s film, Yi Yi published. I feel that what I've done and learned in my time at Sight & Sound will prove essential in my future career development.
If you are interested in finding out more about our Film Studies, Curation and Programming MA, visit – www.nfts.co.uk/filmstudies
Applications are open until 7th July 2019 to start in January 2020!