The NFTS is thrilled to announce that the NFTS Sound Design MA brought home the Verna Fields Award for Student Film Makers for the sixth year in a row at the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards, which is recognised as the sound world's equivalent to the Oscars!

The award was won by 2020 NFTS graduate Yin Lee for her work on animated graduation film, The Unknown. The film tells the story of Sam, who dies on his way home from work and then follows Death on a walk to self-discovery.

Fellow NFTS graduates Ed Rosseau and Harry Parsons were nominated alongside Yin for their work on graduate films O Black Hole and Meow or Never.

Here, Yin tells us more about her experience winning the award, what it was like working on her grad film and what she’s up to now.

What did winning a Golden Reel Award mean to you?

Winning a Golden Reel Award is a really huge encouragement to me as sometimes I lack confidence in myself and it’s been hard to share my joys or frustrations with friends and family as they aren’t familiar with the sound world!

I am extremely honoured to be one of the members on the Golden Reel Award NFTS winners list. I always thought it was like a faraway dream that I would never realise.

Winning a Golden Reel Award is not only an achievement of Sound Editing for The Unknown. It is also evidence for how hard everyone from each department worked on the film together! Also, I don’t think I could have made it without all the inspiration from the tutors on the Sound Design MA course, so this award belongs to all these amazing people too!

Can you tell us about what the making of The Unknown was like?

The journey of participating in the making of The Unknown was challenging but really enjoyable. I was lucky enough to be in a team where I felt everyone’s inputs were valued and appreciated. The crew were amazingly open-minded, supportive and willing to experiment, which allowed the film to develop and grow.

The idea of making this stop-motion animation look like one continuous shot came from a very early stage and it was incredible that the Director and Animator (Stephanie Marshall) and the Cinematographer (Matt Vahey) insisted on fulfilling this ambitious task. Due to the nature of making the film look like one continuous shot, as well as having heavy dialogues, it was especially tricky for the Editor (Ona Bartrolí), but she had so many creative ideas to lead the film to the next level, which always impressed me! Not to mention she had a lot of inputs from a sound design perspective!

The border between score and sound design is sometimes ambiguous in The Unknown. Adam Speck’s score really brought colours into the film sonically and made the whole soundtrack deeper and thoughtful.

All in all it was absolutely a wonderful experience to work on The Unknown and to collaborate with those creative filmmakers, and I had great fun creating the soundscapes for it!

How the Sound Design MA has helped your career to date?

The Sound Design MA at the NFTS was a perfect place for me not only to learn the essentials of the industry standards but also to grow artistically and creativity. More importantly, the course always encouraged students to explore the beauty of telling stories through sounds, which has inspired me a lot, and this knowledge and sensitivity powerfully support my every project.

Furthermore, I found it really helpful that this course established a lovely environment for the students to learn from and collaborate with each other, and having various visiting tutors and workshops also provided us with a great platform to network, which could have been extremely hard for an international student like me.

What is the next project you’re looking to work on?

I am currently working as a freelance Sound Editor/Sound Designer in Taiwan.

In the coming months, I will be working on a few British and Taiwanese shorts - they are all exciting projects and I am looking forward to them.

I am also planning on coming back to the UK around the end of this year depending on Covid-19 circumstances - hopefully there will be more opportunities for post-production sound jobs showing up!

We’d like to offer a huge congratulations to Yin for winning the award and to Ed and Harry for their nominations.

All the graduation films mentioned in this piece premiered at last year’s Graduate Showcase at Picturehouse Central. Check out our social channels to watch the trailers for the 2021 graduation films that will be premiering at the Graduate Showcase 2021 in May at BFI Southbank, supported by BBC Studios.

Places are still available on the NFTS Sound Design MA. Apply today and don’t miss your opportunity to follow in Yin’s footsteps and #StandOutwithNFTS!