Duration 2 Years
Next intake January 2021
Application deadline 31 May 2020
Scholarships availableBegin your application
This course aims to give students the tools and the confidence to become successful documentary makers. We put storytelling at the centre of the filmmaking process, while at the same time helping each student to develop their personal voice.
Head of Department Peter Dale won a 2019 BAFTA for his work on Louis Theroux: Altered States.
Our students are regularly nominated for, and win, prestigious prizes around the world. In recent years they have won at the Griersons, Sheffield DocFest, Locarno, IDFA, Royal Television Society, Sundance, Hot Docs, Berlin and many others.
Students collaborate with those in other specialisms to make several films and participate in practical projects, developing the skills they learn throughout the course – with all production costs met by the School.
All NFTS students can attend the School’s masterclasses programme, with recent guests including David Fincher (se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, Mindhunter), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale), Stephen Fry, Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Krysty Wilson Cairns (1917), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve), Asif Kapadia (Amy, Senna, Diego Maradona), and Louis Theroux.
This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.
Recent credits and successes
What you will study
Students will direct and shoot at least three films during the course of the MA. The first year consists of four practical exercises, increasing in length and complexity.. These focus on the techniques and approach of a specific documentary genre: observation, sound and music, character–led narrative and an enquiry. Students collaborate with editors, sound recordists, sound designers and composers, and are encouraged to build relationships with cinematographers and producers. They are also expected to know how to work alone.
The second year includes three projects: a graduation film in which students synthesise what they have discovered in the first year, and use it to challenge conventional approaches to documentary; an MA dissertation in which they reflect on a documentary topic that has intrigued them during the course so far; and finally the opportunity to develop a project to take into the professional arena.
The final term also consists of visits to a film festival, broadcasters, independent producers and other relevant institutions, together with seminars dealing with the commissioning process, legal requirements, finance and distribution.
Current or recent tutors
Paul BerczellerVisiting tutor
Credits include The Secret History of Our Streets
Peter DaleHead of Documentary
Peter spent 18 years in the field before becoming Head of Documentaries at Channel 4
Claire FergusonVisiting tutor
Credits include Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer and Eyes Wide Shut
Dick FontaineNFTS Fellow in Documentary
Credits span over 50 years, the latest being Sonny Rollins Beyond The Notes
Andre SingerVisiting tutor
Credits include Night Will Fall and Where the Wind Blew
Vanessa StockleyVisiting tutor
Credits include The Genius and the Opera Singer and Wonderland
Every year, our students make a number of short films.
Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have usually had some previous experience of filmmaking, though this may not be at a professional level. All have a strong social awareness and a keen desire to translate that awareness into stories told with a personal voice.
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 here.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
How to apply
Application deadline: 31 May 2020
Please apply with the following:
- A short film (20 minutes max) which you have conceived and directed: Please submit your work via Vimeo links. Please note, that if you wish to submit a longer film, only the first 20 minutes will be viewed. If dialogue is not in English, you should enclose a dialogue transcript in English.
- A written proposal for a different film of any specified length (no more than four sides of A4 paper, typed and double spaced) which should include the basic premise, a description of the characters and locations and most importantly, the developing narrative.
You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below.
We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.Begin your application