One of the first projects the NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA students get their teeth into is a series of filmed science based interviews. Splitting into three teams, the students chose to film interviews on a range of subjects including the science of sleep, the intelligence of amoeba and fast radio bursts, a new phenomenon in astrophysics.

Laurence Belcher being interviewed by Conor Ferris (sound by Harry Frankel, camera by Jessica Mills)

Sound Asleep was filmed by Jake Davison, Kate Wallace, Josephine Hannon and Megan Brown. They interviewed Professor Morten Kringelbach, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, and Professor Milton Mermikides, a composer guitarist and music theorist. 

Jake explains: “The film is about the discovery of newly described changes in brain activity during sleep by Professor Kringelbach and his team, and how conversion of these findings to music could provide a useful diagnostic tool and possibly a therapeutic for sleep disorder treatment. We decided to cover this story because, in the age of smartphones, tablets and a 24/7 world, the quality of our sleep is decreasing and its importance is often overlooked. This new model of sleep brain activity developed by Professor Kringelbach and his team, as well as his collaboration with Professor Milton Mermikides to produce musical compositions from this data, will help us understand the mechanism of sleep better and therefore allow us to improve our own sleep. Both the ground-breaking nature of this research and the unorthodox method of utilising music to potentially unlock more discoveries seemed intriguing to us and something that needed to be heard about

Dirty Little Cheaters was directed by Chris Lawes, shot by Jessica Mills, sound by Henry Frankel and Conor Ferris was the interviewer.

Chris said: “Dirty Little Cheaters is a short interview with Laurence Belcher, a PHD student at Bath university who studies microbiology; specialising in amoeba and investigating their complex social interactions. He looks at their unexpectedly intelligent social patterns of cooperating with each other when food is available, and how some cheat others when food is scarce in order to further their own reproductive success. He uses his findings as a model for broader interactions with larger animals and even humans, and how we often know that cooperation would help us all have greater overall success but most of us always act selfishly in some way; ultimately cheating others which can negatively affect our success overall. We were interested instantly after hearing about the research. These stories that show us how intelligent seemingly insignificant life can be are always good to share to encourage a more holistic outlook on other life.”

Signals was filmed by John Davies, Rachael Livermore and Tom Hanner and they interviewed Manisha Caleb of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester.

Rachael said: “The subject of the film is fast radio bursts, a mysterious type of signal seen from space that was discovered in 2007. Since that initial discovery around 60 of these signals have been seen, and their origins are still not known, making them one of the hot topics in modern astrophysics. We chose this subject because of my background in astrophysics (I worked in scientific research for 10 years before coming to the NFTS), and because radio astronomy is the main type of space observation that can be performed from the UK since radio waves can pass through cloud and rain.”

For more information on the NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/naturalhistory