Directing and Producing Science and Natural History
Duration 2 Years
Next intake January 2023
Application deadline 05 May 2022
Could you make the next Seven Worlds One Planet, Horizon or Forces of Nature?
This is the only MA course of its kind in the UK, combining Science and Natural History in one MA, designed to give students all they need work professionally in this exciting industry. It aims to give students the skills and expertise needed to direct science and wildlife productions, the know-how to produce and direct entire shows and the ability, confidence and knowledge to generate and pitch ideas and formats to commissioning editors.
Within 2 months of graduating all our 2019 graduates secured roles at leading television companies, including BBC Natural History Unit, Plimsoll Productions and Silverback Films.
The course includes masterclasses from industry experts, including the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, and work experience is available at major wildlife production companies. Our graduates have the opportunity to build a brilliant list of industry contacts and relevant skills for a career as a Producer/Director.
With a passion for the natural world and a love of storytelling, students can adapt and further their knowledge at the NFTS, learning what they need to become a filmmaker at an exciting time in this industry, documenting how we interact with the natural world and helping to bring together the stories that need to be told.
All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and David Attenborough.
“You are the future. It’s up to you to change things about the way you look at the natural world, using formats I haven’t dreamed about.” Sir David Attenborough, NFTS Masterclass 2017
Recent credits and successes
What you will study
This course will give you the skills to direct science and natural history productions, the know-how to produce entire shows, and the ability to generate new programme ideas and formats. Students gain a practical working knowledge of current television production methods and insight into how the business works and current trends.
There is a strong emphasis on professional practice. This means that student projects will be expected to measure up to scientific scrutiny, as well as exhibition and broadcast standards.
Students will carry out assignments in the specialist skills of long-lens, time-lapse and macro photography. In the 1st year, students will not only produce and direct, but also shoot and edit their 10-minute film. In the 2nd year they typically shoot their films, but they also collaborate with composers, editors and sound designers when they make their 20 to 25 minute graduation films.
As part of the course students will be exposed to the development and production challenges of specialist factual genres, such as Landmark/Blue Chip (interchangeable terms for high budget, high production value programming mainly used in a pure wildlife context), mini landmarks, Children’s, People and Nature, Live, Expedition films, Magazine formats, Obs-doc etc. In addition, there will be a focus on promoting cross-genre ideas to foster creativity.
The course is led by Bucy McDonald, who has been a Producer and Director across a number of popular science strands at the BBC, shooting on location in Europe, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and the Philippines, filming on land and underwater. She also worked for nearly a decade at the Natural History Museum making films for galleries, exhibitions and across digital platforms. She also ran her own business making campaign films for various high profile charities including Barnardo's and Cancer Research UK.
Every year, our students work on a number of short films.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate their passion, commitment and talent for developing a career in television and a keen interest in the natural world, science, conservation and bio-diversity. Typically, applicants will have a proven interest in science and natural history, which may involve a background in Physics, Chemistry, combined Natural Sciences, Zoology, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, Wildlife Photography etc. But other educational backgrounds are not excluded.
While many applicants will have a degree from a British or overseas university, we will consider applicants who do not have a degree if they have an impressive portfolio, a creative track record or an alternative qualification.
For international students, more information about our entry requirements, including Visa and English language requirements, can be found on our What You Need To Know section of our Students From Abroad page.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
How to apply
Application deadline:05 May 2022
Applicants must complete the online application form and submit the following supporting materials:
- A short proposal for a science or natural history television programme (one side of A4)
- Optional: A digital portfolio containing samples of your work specifying your exact role in each.
This work does not need to be in the science and natural history area, as some applicants may not have a film or other programme-making background.
Applications open 3rd January 2022. We are happy to receive applications from 3rd January until the midnight of the application deadline date.