Incredible Virtual Masterclasses Boost Spirits of Quarantined NFTS Students

The NFTS is renowned for hosting unique Masterclasses and we have welcomed many acclaimed Film, TV and Games makers from around the world to the School. They give students the opportunity to learn from and ask questions from some of the most significant figures in the industry and are often accompanied by preview screenings.

With the NFTS closing its physical doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, the School immediately swung into action to ensure our students could still benefit from our celebrated Masterclasses from home, via Zoom webinars.

Take a look below to learn more about the Masterclasses held over Zoom during Spring and Summer 2020. Multi-BAFTA winning writer-director, and NFTS Honorary Fellow, Sally Wainwright was the first to take the Zoom plunge, closely followed by David Fincher and Edgar Wright. Other high-profile guests who generously took the time out to speak to NFTS students included the one and only Stephen Fry, screenwriting legend Eric Roth, NFTS graduate and 1917 screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns, triple Academy Award winning Costume Designer Sandy Powell, Academy Award winning director Steve McQueen, award-winning commercials director Dougal Wilson, writer and director of The Usual Suspects Christopher McQuarrie, horror maestro Corin Hardy, Noughts + Crosses writer and NFTS graduate, Malorie Blackman, animation writer-director Tomm Moore and comedy legend Judd Apatow!

The NFTS has also been hosting weekly sessions with our alumni that are available for all to watch!

Danny Boyle | 31 July
Danny Boyle

The last Masterclass of term at NFTS and oh boy was it a good one! Big thank you to Oscar winning Producer/Director Danny Boyle for helping our students to end this term on such a huge high by chatting with them about their storytelling inspirations.

Tomm Moore | 29 July
Tom Moore

A joyful Masterclass with animator & double Oscar nominee Tom Moore who gave NFTS students a behind the scenes look at his work on The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Wolfwalkers is one of the most anticipated animated features of the year - we can’t wait to see it!
Richard Wong and Asta Philpot | 15 July
Top - Asta Philpot Bottom L-R - Richard Wong and Dan Jolin

Thank you to Director/Cinematographer Richard Wong and the remarkable Asta Philpot for a truly enlightening Virtual Masterclass focussin on Come As You Are – a road movie inspired by Asta’s life. Thanks also to Dan Jolin for moderating!

Come As You Are is now available to stream!
Edward Norton | 2 July
Edward Norton

A wonderfully inspirational and informative Masterclass from the legend that is Edward Norton. Thank you for giving NFTS students an insight into all aspects of filmmaking during a truly unforgettable session this evening!
Yann Demange | 1 July
Yann Demange

Massive thanks to multi-BAFTA nominated, BIFA-winning Director and NFTS grad Yann Demange for this evening's Virtual Masterclass. Having Yann back to talk to our students about his amazing work including '71 & Top Boy was absolutely brilliant.
Sarah Gavron | 19 June
Sarah Gavron
We were so happy to end the week chatting with NFTS graduate and all round brilliant director Sarah Gavron. We can’t wait to see Rocks when it comes out! Thanks for making time to speak to the students Sarah!
Jina Jay, Shaheen Baig and Jane Arnell | 18 June
L-R Jina Jay, Shaheen Baig and Jane Arnell
Thank you to Jina Jay, Shaheen Baig and NFTS Casting course leader Jane Arnell for the incredibly informative Masterclass for those interested in a career in casting.

If you missed it, you can watch it on our YouTube channel here:
George Amponsah | 17 June
George Amponsah
So amazing to have Writer, Director, Producer and NFTS graduate George Amponsah join our students for a Masterclass this afternoon to discuss his sobering BAFTA nominated documentary The Hard Stop. Thank you George for your incredibly valuable insights and advice!
Rick Carter | 15 June
Rick Carter

Thanks to the legendary Production Designer Rick Carter (AvatarBack to the FutureStar Wars and The Goonies!) for another NFTS Masterclass. What an IMDb page!
Damien Chazelle | 12 June
Damien Chazelle

Thanks to Oscar-winning Director, Writer and Producer Damien Chazelle for finishing up the week with advice for NFTS students during an inspirational Masterclass covering his extraordinary body of work from Whiplash to La La Land and First Man and speaking with real honesty about his process and his work.
Lee Unkrich | 5 June
Lee Unkrich

It was brilliant to chat with Lee Unkrich at this afternoons NFTS Masterclass about all things Coco, Toy Story and Pixar. Such an amazing body of work.

Thanks for being so generous with your time and advice Lee!
Paul Feig | 3 June
Paul Feig

When we invited Paul Feig to do an NFTS Masterclass we knew he would be the best dressed guest so far. He was also one of the loveliest and most insightful. Thanks Paul the students loved speaking with you!
James Mangold | 1 June
James Mangold

"The films that we remember are the ones that touch us.”

Thank you to Oscar nominated writer/director/producer James Mangold for delivering a Virtual Masterclass NFTS students will remember for a long time to come!



Suzie Lavelle and Lenny Abrahamson | 29 May
Suzie Lavelle and Lenny Abrahamson

What a Masterclass with Normal People Writer/Director Lenny Abrahamson and Cinematographer/NFTS Grad Suzie Lavelle talking about developing aesthetics, working with an Intimacy Director & being guided by subtlety to create the electric atmosphere of the series.
Sally Potter | 27 May
Sally Potter and Dan Jolin on Instagram Live

We were excited to hold our first Instagram Live Masterclass on Wednesday with renowned Director and Screenwriter, Sally Potter. Hosted by Empire’s contributing editor Dan Jolin, Sally answered questions from NFTS students, ScripTeast and from those watching the live stream.

If you didn’t catch the Q&A while it was live, we have made it available for all to watch here!
Eliza Hittman | 22 May
Eliza Hittman

Things got deep during this week's final NFTS Virtual Masterclass with award winning writer-director Eliza Hittman, live from NYC. She touched on authenticity, dramatic irony, giving characters inner perspective & emotional truth. Thank you from across the pond Eliza!
Malorie Blackman and Nathaniel Price | 22 May
NFTS graduates Malorie Blackman and Nathanial Price

It was so exciting for NFTS sudents to be in conversation with our graduates Malorie Blackman and Nathaniel Price today about the iconic Noughts + Crosses - adapting the book for the screen, breaking out of comfort zones & drawing on personal experience in writing and filmmaking.

Malorie and Nathaniel both graduated from the NFTS Screenwriting course. Apply today!
Lone Sherfig | 20 May
Lone Sherfig

Today NFTS students enjoyed a brilliant Masterclass with Writer/Director Lone Scherfig who passed on her infinite wisdom by answering a raft of in-depth questions from students about her films including An Education and The Riot Club. Thanks Lone!
Spike Jonze | 15 May
Spike Jonze

After a busy week it was great to finish it all together with another Virtual Masterclass, this time with the genius that is Spike Jonze! Inspiring.
Daniel Kleinman | 15 May
Daniel talking NFTS students through the process behind making the iconic Bond titles

25 007 films, 9 Bonds and 2 titles designers, one of them being Daniel Kleinman who joined NFTS students for a lunchtime Masterclass today to talk about the process of creating some of his iconic graphics and titles.
Billie Piper & Hazel Baillie | 13 May
Billie Piper and Hazel Baillie

A huge thank you to Billie Piper and NFTS Graduate Hazel Baillie for an illuminating Virtual Masterclass on the genesis and making of Rare Beasts - not only Billie's directorial debut, she also wrote and stars in the film. Our students loved hearing about the journey!

Hazel graduated from the NFTS Editing MA. Applications are now open for this course, apply before 31 May!
Gareth Evans | 13 May
Gareth Evans

Today our students were treated to a lunchtime Virtual Masterclass with Director, Writer and Editor Gareth Evans in conversation with Dan Jolin on the 'jigsaw' that is directing iconic action sequences in his new series Gangs of London.
Marielle Heller | 11 May
Marielle Heller

Today ended on a high as writer, director and actor Marielle Heller, known for incredible work like Can You Ever Forgive Me? and A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood joined NFTS students for an amazing masterclass. Truly a filmmaker we will be talking about for years to come.
Wes Anderson | 9 May
Wes Anderson records a video for NFTS students to answer their questions
NFTS students were invited to 'Ask Mr Anderson' where they sent in all their questions for Wes Anderson. Today the students were excited to recieve a 40 minute video he recorded of himself answering all their questions! They're truly feeling lucky and grateful.
Philippa Lowthorpe & Una Ni Dhonghaile | 6 May
L-R Philippa Lowthorpe, Una Ni Dhonghaile and Lesley Manning

Three brilliant women discussed casting, cutting & telling important stories in today’s NFTS Virtual Masterclass! Thank you to Philippa Lowthorpe and NFTS graduate Una Ni Dhonghaile for joining us and to our Co-head of Fiction Lesley Manning for hosting.
Stephen Fry | 5 May
The one and only Stephen Fry on Zoom with NFTS students

This was just the tonic. NFTS rounded the day off with a Masterclass with THE Stephen Fry, answering questions and talking so expertly about storytelling. Hugely uplifting and inspiring. Thank you Stephen!
Nick Rowland & Joe Murtagh | 4 May
Nick Rowland and Joe Murtagh

It was great chatting with NFTS graduates Director Nick Rowland and Writer Joe Murtagh on Monday about their new film Calm with Horses.

For the first time since our Masterclasses went virtual, NFTS has made this Q&A available to watch online, thanks to Altitude Films.

Stream the film here then watch the Q&A here!

Applications are open for both of the courses Nick (Directing Fiction MA) and Joe (Screenwriting MA) graduated from. Apply before 31 May to follow in their footsteps!
Ben Wheatley | 1 May
Ben Wheatley

We finished another week in lockdown with multi-award winning director, editor and producer Ben Wheatley in conversation with NFTS Head of Screen Arts Sandra Hebron. Ben’s work includes Kill List, Sightseers and Doctor Who and what a Virtual Masterclass it was!

Thank you to everyone who continues to offer their time and knowledge to ensure our students spirits are kept high while in lockdown.
Elisabeth Moss and Stuart Biddlecombe | 29 April
L-R Elisabeth Moss, Ethel and Stuart Biddlecombe

On Wednesday we were joined by the one and only Elisabeth Moss, who alongside her cat Ethel and NFTS graduate Stuart Biddelcombe, delivered an exceptional Virtual Masterclass taking us behind the scenes of The Handmaid's Tale. It was a fascinating to hear what an incredibly positive and collaborative set surrounds such a darkly iconic series, with Elisabeth commenting: “It’s all about being open, listening to each other and making it safe.”

Stuart graduated from the NFTS Cinematography MA course, find out how you could follow in his footsteps here.
Ian Mackinnon | 29 April
Ian's bottom row second from the left!

Spot Mackinnon and Saunder's Ian Mackinnon surrounded by NFTS Model Making students in what was an incredible Masterclass, where he gave students valuable advice on building portfolios, accessing the industry & some vital lock-down encouragement! Thanks for your time Ian!
Denis Villeneuve | 27 April
Denis Villeneuve

Monday started on a high with legendary director Denis Villeneuve who spent an hour talking to our students about his work on Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. He also gave valuable advice about remaining reactive on set, how to choose projects and take risks. This truly was an unmissable session.
Ben Roberts | 24 April
CEO of the BFI, Ben Roberts on Zoom Masterclass with NFTS students

Sage advice for NFTS students from BFI CO Ben Roberts:

"Keep doing great work and staying creative. Use this opportunity to think about how we can all work differently and in more interesting ways going forward and stay on course because you're the future.”

A big thank you to Ben for a really inspiring masterclass. Lots of great practical tips for out students and inspiration for the future. It was a really great way to end another week in lockdown!
Tommy Gormley | 23 April
Tommy Gormley

NFTS students picked up tips from true First Assistant Director legend and Executive Producer Tommy Gormley in a Virtual Masterclass on Thursday. He talked the students through his experiences working on big titles like Star Wars, Star Trek, Wonder Woman and Mission Impossible.
Angus Wall | 22 April
Angus Wall

Oscar-winning Editor Angus Wall graced our students screens on Wednesday. Answering their multitude of questions, discussing the process of editing brilliant films like The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He also left our students with some very interesting metaphors including how he compares a great edit to the perfect bite of a hotdog!
Sandy Powell | 21 April
Sandy Powell

The world’s best costume designer Sandy Powell spent an hour chatting to NFTS students about her amazing body of work, including The Irishman and The Favourite. Our students loved it and found it utterly fascinating.
Judd Apadtow | 17 April
Judd Apatow

“This is the greatest Friday ever!”

What a great way to end another week in lockdown, a Masterclass with comedy genius Judd Apatow.

Chris McQuarrie | 15 April
Chris McQuarrie

We kept our students entertained during their Easter break with more Virtual Masterclasses and workshops! An Easter treat for NFTS students included Chris MacQuarrie delivering a total Masterclass in lenses, emotion, learning from your mistakes and not boxing yourself in. Really inspiring!

Steve McQueen | 9 April
NFTS student Instagram stories of Steve McQueen

NFTS finished the last day of term in style with a phenomenal Virtual Masterclass from the legendary Sir Steve McQueen, offering his incredibly valuable time and knowledge to our grateful students.

Mandy Walker | 8 April
Mandy Walker surrounded by NFTS students!

Our Cinematography students were lucky enough to have an exclusive Masterclass with Cinematographer Mandy Walker, DoP for incredible films including Mulan (2020) and Hidden Figures.

Krysty Wilson-Cairns | 8 April
Krysty Wilson-Cairns smiling throughout her Virtual Masterclass

NFTS staff and students bowed to Oscar nominee, BAFTA winner and NFTS graduate Krysty Wilson-Cairns who gave our students a truly unmissable Virtual Masterclass on Wednesday. Talking about her career so far and all elements of screenwriting, including screenwriting the iconic 1917.

Eric Roth | Tuesday 7 April
Eric Roth

Screenwriting legend Eric Roth spent an hour chatting with NFTS students on Tuesday, leading them through his incredible career writing iconic work including Forrest Gump, House of Cards and A Star is Born (2018). He gave brilliant insight into his writing process and some especially valuable advice on how to kick their writer’s block while in isolation. It’s not often our Masterclasses get interrupted but this one did not once but twice, with Eric getting calls from both David Fincher and Judd Apatow (and like a true gent, he didn’t take the calls!)
Dougal Wilson | 6 April
Dougal Wilson

NFTS started the week as we meant to go on with a fantastic Virtual Masterclass from award-winning commercials director Dougal Wilson, who gave our students an illuminating insight into making some of the UK’s most iconic commercials including Excitable Edgar Christmas campaign for John Lewis.

Find out more about NFTS unique part-time Directing Commercials Diploma course, delivered in partnership with D&AD here.

Sam Mendes | Friday 3 April
NFTS Director Jon Wardle and Sam Mendes in Virtual Masterclass with NFTS students

Renowned director Sir Sam Mendes finished off the third week of quarantine with an incredible Friday evening session, chatting to the students about his career to date and everything in between including the journey of making the Oscar winning 1917 with three NFTS graduates, Krysty Wilson-Cairns (Screenwriting MA), Roger Deakins (Cinematography MA) and Stuart Wilson (Location Sound Diploma).
Corin Hardy | Wednesday 1 April
Corin Hardy talking to NFTS students: "Hello to you, you, you and you!"

Writer/director/animator Corin Hardy gifted the students with another brilliantly insightful Masterclass, talking to them about his love of Ray Harryhausen, the process behind creating his award-winning debut film The Hallow and directing the terrifying smash hit The Nun on location in Romania.  

Corin also gave the students an epic peek into his home studio: “It’s my favourite place to create, it reflects the inside of my brain and is where all my thoughts become reality.” Corin’s tour of his self-described “monster cave” showcased a simply incredible collection of amazing creatures and stop motion puppets, animatronic claws, music video storyboards and film props.

Corin has directed four episodes of the upcoming Sky drama Gangs of London, describing it as “the most grounded project I’ve ever done - it doesn’t feature any monsters, at least not any of the supernatural kind... but has lots of prosthetics, makeup, stunts and squibs - we really threw every technique we had at it to make it as cinematic as possible!” Gangs of London is due to premiere on Sky on April 23rd.

Asif Kapadia | Wednesday 1 April
Asif Kapadia mid Masterclass

Oscar and BAFTA winning writer, director and producer, Asif Kapadia stopped by to chat to the NFTS Directing Documentary students. He last visited the NFTS back in January to give a talk to our new intake of students, leaving them with some essential advice for maximising their time at the NFTS. “Learn by doing, learn by making. Push yourself, don’t play it safe, push it to the ultimate!” More here.
Steve Yedlin | Wednesday 1 April
Steve Yedlin talking with NFTS Cinematography students

Steve Yedlin, renowned DOP with countless credits to his name including Star Wars - The Last Jedi, Knives Out and Looper zoomed by to speak to NFTS Cinematography students.
Nainita Desai | Tuesday 31 March
Nainita Desai in a Zoom Masterclass with NFTS Composing students

Composing students were fortunate to have a Masterclass with Nainita Desai, an NFTS graduate who has written the scores for numerous BAFTA, Emmy and Oscar winning/nominated films including the seminal For Sama.
Alex Gibney | Monday 30 March
Alex Gibney

A Monday evening in self isolation saw the prolific Alex Gibney, an Oscar winning documentary writer, director and producer of dozens of past credits including Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief and Taxi to the Dark Side, give a Masterclass hosted by Peter Dale, NFTS Head of Documentary.

Prior to the Masterclass, NFTS students were treated to a screening of Alex’s new release Citizen K, which sees him explore modern Russia through the story of an oligarch who became an anti-Putin dissident. Alex, who is currently self isolating in in New Jersey, covered a myriad of subjects including his reputation for tackling dangerous and provocative subjects.
Ricky Gervais | Monday 30 March
NFTS students laughed along with Ricky Gervais during his Virtual Masterclass

The start of week three in self isolation, featured a lunchtime Masterclass with the incomparable writer/director Ricky Gervais. Streaming live from his home office in London, adorned with his many well deserved BAFTAs and Emmy awards, Ricky filled the students in on the highly anticipated second series of his global Netflix smash AfterLife, which is due to drop from 24th April and features a pivotal scene filmed at the NFTS last September. More here.

L-R Paul Kaye, Vicky Swain, Ricky Gervais, Shane Lim and Tom Basden on set for Afterlife 2 at the NFTS

Over a hilariously upbeat hour, Ricky took questions from the students on everything from the joy of not having his work interfered with, the projects and jokes that get his adrenaline going and how he would approach the comedy landscape if he was entering it in 2020.

Ricky left the students with some wise words on finding their own voice on projects: “You’ve got to trust your instincts, you’ve got to do it for you. You’ve got to be confident. If you find it interesting, someone else will and it’s your job as a Director to make them as interested in that subject as you. You’ve got to get across why [that subject] is so fascinating and interesting. It’s the minutiae and honesty. We’re all different and we all have a particular blend and as soon as we stop second guessing our own ideas or adhering to the rules of comedy or drama, that’s when passion comes through, that’s when you find your voice.”
Edgar Wright | Friday 27 March
NFTS students give their thanks to Edgar Wright at the end of his Masterclass 

The end of the students' second week studying from home saw them enjoy a Friday evening Masterclass led by one of the UK’s foremost writer/directors, Edgar Wright, a true cinephile currently in post-production on his new film, Last Night in Soho, co-written by NFTS Screenwriting graduate Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

Edgar’s previous work includes Hot Fuzz, Spaced, Shaun of the Dead and Baby Driver and he was only too willing to expand on his love of filmmaking, the key to successful collaboration and how he is surviving his own period of self-isolation.

He also shared some advice to those trying to break into the film industry: “There is no reason not to be making something these days, take matters into your own hands and don’t wait for opportunities, make your own!”

With many NFTS students going on to forge life-long partnerships with their fellow students after graduating, Edgar was emphatic about team work being a major factor for success: “When you recognise a great team, stick with that team.”

Talking of how past career achievements are no guarantee of continuing success, Edgar shared a few words of wisdom on not being complacent: “If you’re trying to make something that is truly yours, there will always be an element of challenge.”

Every project has bumps in the road and answering a question posed by a student, Edgar touched on the benefits of being well prepared before a shoot: “It’s always good to have a plan. Even if those plans change massively, you’ve at least got a roadmap of what you’re trying to achieve.”

Just before signing off for the weekend, Edgar revealed how he is keeping going in quarantine. “Now is the time to watch all those movies you never get round to. I’m finding watching war and dystopian movies strangely soothing.”
Nathan Johnson | Wednesday 25 March
Nathan Johnson on Zoom with NFTS students

Nathan Johnson, renowned composer of Knives Out the box office smash of 2019, hosted a Masterclass especially for NFTS Composing students.
Jesse Armstrong | Wednesday 25 March
Jesse Armstrong

Succession creator and showrunner Jesse Armstrong gave his time to our Screenwriting students who couldn’t have been happier to see him beamed into their homes for an informative Q&A session.
David Fincher | Tuesday 24 March
David Fincher Zooming in live from L.A!

One of the very first people to say yes to hosting a virtual Masterclass was the American directing legend, David Fincher. If it would help boost the spirits of our students during a difficult time, David was keen to be involved. Week two in quarantine saw NFTS students log in to Zoom in their hundreds for the extraordinary opportunity to get ‘face time’ and a filmmaking Masterclass with THE David Fincher. It was an experience that not only lifted the spirits of all the students who took part but generated news stories across the globe and even became a trending topic on Twitter! David’s webinar enabled the students to pose questions and over 90 minutes he very generously offered a rare insight into the film making process of his best known titles including The Social Network, Gone Girl, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Panic Room and House of Cards. One NFTS student summed up the Masterclass with a comment echoed by many of her peers: "Every afternoon should be spent hanging out with David Fincher!”
Sally Wainwright | Friday 20 March
Sally Wainwright

Just four days after moving to online learning, multi BAFTA winning writer/director Sally Wainwright was live, online and delivering our very first Masterclass, co-hosted by her long-time collaborator and NFTS Head of Editing, Richard Cox. Sally talked through her writing and directing process across both the BAFTA winning Last Tango in Halifax and Gentleman Jack, a huge hit when it launched on BBC One in 2019 and 20 years in the making. Sally is currently writing the second series of the period drama and it was a real treat that she  was able to show students copies of the coded diaries of Anne Lister, the 19th century Yorkshire landowner Gentleman Jack is based upon which Sally is working from. Many students joined in to ask Sally and Richard their burning questions while Sally’s cat Merlin popped into view throughout – something that definitely wouldn’t have been possible during an in person Masterclass!

The NFTS would like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has offered their time and knowledge to ensure our students remain engaged with their studies and have amazing Masterclasses to look forward to. As a School, we feel very fortunate to have many friends and supporters in the industry and when times get tough, they’ve proved they are 100% by our side. Thank you.