Model Making Students Recreate Classic Scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho

(Model Making students, Harry, Thanos & Alastair carrying out final touches to Psycho model)

A dark and foreboding mood has descended onto the Model Making department this month as the students work hard to recreate a classic scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho.

(Finished replica of the Psycho house viewed from the Bates motel) 

Head of Model Making, John Lee said: “I chose Psycho due to its iconic status and because it’s one of my favourite movies to see on the big screen. The shot we’ve been trying to replicate is the classic view from the Bates Motel looking up to the house.”


(Still of the Psycho house view from Bates Motel from the 1960 film)

This is a collaborative module, so all ten students are working on the same model, which encourages them to work as a team. John explained: “It’s important that communication is really strong so everything fits together from the windows to the walls. The main challenge is making it look real. We chose a 1:33 scale as it forces the students to work accurately and crisply over the six week build. We’re trying to retain that iconic Hitchcockian mood and atmosphere by finishing the model in various muted shades of black and white to reflect the fact that the film was shot in black and white.”

(NFTS Model Making Diploma students with their finished model)

John continued: “It’s important to gather as much research as possible and in doing so we found the original production design drawings. Interestingly when you compare them to the actual film, there are some differences, then in 1983 when they made Psycho II, they made further amendments to the house. Our model follows references from the original 1960 film.

(Becky, Ellen & Emma fabricating landscape from Psycho miniature)

Applications are open for the Model Making for Animation Diploma until the 7th June and the course starts in September 2018 – apply now at

NFTS Graduate & BAFTA Winning Director Lynne Ramsay Discusses Her Powerful New Film & Whether A Comedy Could Be Her Next Project!

BAFTA winning director and NFTS alumna, Lynne Ramsay delivered a highly entertaining and insightful masterclass to the students after a screening of her powerful new film, You Were Never Really Here.

The session was hosted by NFTS Head of Screen Arts, Sandra Hebron and Lynne was joined by the film’s producer, Jim Wilson. Lynne explained that You Were Never Really Here is based on a novella by Jonathan Ames and that she was attracted to the project by the main character who she found “really interesting.” She continued: “I loved how tight the book was and I tried to keep that quality in my adaptation.”

Jim got involved in the project when Lynne contacted him about it: “The thing that drew me was that Lynne wanted to do it. I would pretty much do the yellow pages if Lynne was attached to it! I was interested to see how Lynne would look at the subject matter.”

Joaquin Phoenix was Lynne’s first choice to play Joe: “I thought it was him from the beginning. In my mind, he was in it.” But securing Joaquin meant starting the shoot earlier than anticipated as he had an unexpected slot in his schedule. Jim explained: “We didn’t anticipate that we would make the film that summer as Joaquin was due to shoot a film but when that got moved, we went from best laid plans to being in New York and starting the shoot with no soft prep as we had to get the film done by September when Joaquin was due to start another film.”

Due to the tight time schedule, Lynne had to adapt the scrip to shorten the shoot time: “Our backs were really up against the wall.” Sandra added: “It feels like you got what you needed – there’s something about the propulsion that really works.” Lynne agreed: “Summer in New York is brutal – it was dirty, grimy and noisy – being summer was good for that reason though as we ended up with a tight little mean thing.”

The vulnerability of Joe is a central theme of the film, despite its tough subject matter. Lynne explained: “I wanted him to be human and vulnerable. I had to try lots of tones in the edit as I wanted humour in there as well. I’d never done an action movie or anything with guns before. I see the violence as psychology, it needed to be super mechanical and personal as it was an everyday thing for Joe. Seeing a piece of something is more effective and real, it gave the film a different kind of energy.” Sandra highlighted the scene where Joe touches his mother’s feet as a particularly tender moment. Lynne said: “To me it’s all about love – the tiniest gesture and detail says everything about the relationship.”

One of the students asked how Lynne had made the transition from shooting to directing as she had studied Cinematography at the NFTS. Lynne replied: “I started as a photographer. It was quite tough at first. I had to learn a new language. It’s really good to technically understand shots though, I think every director should have the skills of a good DP and understand which shots will work.”

The impactful score is composed by Radiohead member, Jonny Greenwood. Lynne said: “Getting any music from Jonny was like a present. He was amazing. He saw the film in chronological order, following the film like a character – the soundtrack is like Joe is imploding.”

Sandra asked about the music choices, particularly those that accompany the scenes of violence. Lynne said: “We tried as much as possible. We worked with Paul Davies who was a sound tutor at the NFTS while I was there. This is such a good place! A lot of the time, it’s the sound that really affects you.”

At the end of the session, Sandra thanked Lynne and Jim and said: “You are clearly very energised – what do you want to do now?” Lynne replied: “The energy from the film was crazy, it felt so good and as soon as it was over, I thought, let’s go shoot something else! I have lots of ideas, none fully fledged yet – a comedy maybe?! Nothing is off bounds so long as it’s something I’m excited about and something that excites the audience. I still feel like a student – I’m still exploring.” Lynne signed off by telling the students: “I’m looking forward to seeing your films, I bet they’re kick ass!”

You Were Never Really Here is out now and credits three further NFTS graduates in addition to Lynne. They are: DoP, Thomas Townend, Sound Designer and Supervising Sound Editor, Paul Davies and Additional Sound Editor, Morgan Muse.

If you would like to attend masterclasses like this one, have a look at our upcoming open days to find out more about our courses -

Three NFTS Alumni Nominated for 2018 BAFTA Television Craft Awards

A trio of NFTS alumni are nominated in this year’s BAFTA Television Craft Awards, the winners of which will be revealed at a ceremony on Sunday 22nd April hosted by Stephen Mangan.

Cinematography MA graduate Stephan Pehrsson is nominated for the ‘Photography & Lighting: Fiction’ award for his role as DoP on the episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series entitled USS Callister.

Directing Documentary MA alumnus, Daniel Vernon is competing for the ‘Photography: Factual’ award for his camerawork on the BBC Two series The Detectives: Murder on the Streets, which he also produced and directed.

Editing MA graduate, Una Ni Dhonghaile is in contention for a further award for her work on the BBC three-part BBC drama based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale. She is nominated in the ‘Editing: Fiction’ category, having already won the ‘Best Editing; Drama’ award at the Royal Television Society Craft Awards in December.

In addition, Production Design alumna, Christina Moore was Supervising Art Director on the last series of Game of Thrones which has been nominated for ‘Best Production Design’ and the ‘Sound: Fiction’ nominees include the sound team from the BBC One series Taboo - on which Stuart Wilson served as Rerecording Mixer - and Black Mirror: USS Callister on which Dario Swade worked as Foley Editor and Kyle Pickford as Boom Operator.

NFTS Head of Model Making Recommends Easter Exhibition

The Store X and Fox Searchlight Pictures present an exclusive exhibition of sets and puppets from Isle of Dogs, a new film from Wes Anderson

NFTS Head of Model Making, John Lee, who has worked on a wide range of films as model maker and prop maker from Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Frankenweenie, recommends an exclusive exhibition taking place this Easter of sets and puppets from his latest film, Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs.

John says: “I really recommend that anyone interested in model making or animation should visit this free behind-the-scenes exhibition, which showcases a number of the original sets and puppets, some of which I had the pleasure of working on myself. Just to see some of the puppets and sets up close will really blow your mind. The level of detail is insane on this type of film, and Wes pushes that to the absolute limit!”

On what he enjoyed most about working on Isle of Dogs, John said: “The main attraction to working on Isle of Dogs was the crew to be honest. Art Department Supervisor, Roddy Macdonald puts together a great team down at 3 Mills Studios, and most of us had worked together before on Frankenweenie, and Fantastic Mr Fox, so if you’re lucky enough to be asked, then you are in for a real treat. The work on a project like that is so nice, and because it’s stop frame animation, your work generally ends up on screen.”

“My part on Isle of Dogs was fairly short by animated feature standards, as I was lucky enough to work on it straight after Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I worked in the art department, which was huge. We had prop and model makers, painters, and designers, so the type of work you are making is either model sets, or nice props from the film. I did a bit of both really, which is always good, as I enjoy working large or small.”

Isle of Dogs credits no fewer than seven NFTS graduates including Ralph Foster, Editor; Gillian Simpson, Digital Compositor; and Frej Bengtsson, Quentin Haberham, Steve Warne,  Adam M Watts and Laura Tofarides (animators).

The exhibition takes place between the 23rd and 31st March at The Store Studios, 180 The Strand.

If this piques your interest in working as a model maker, find out more about our new Model Making for Animation Diploma at - apply by 7th June to start in September 2018.


NFTS Wins Big at 2018 British Animation Awards

There were three awards for NFTS graduates at last night’s British Animation Awards, which covers all aspects of the UK Animation scene, from student work to commercials, children’s entertainment, short and experiential films, music videos and new technologies.

(Still from A Love Story)

Anushka Naanayakkara received the Student Excellence award for her NFTS graduation film, A Love Story and Paloma Baeza was jointly awarded the Public Choice Award for her graduation film, Poles Apart. Both films also won British Short Animation BAFTAs in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

(Still from Poles Apart)

If that were not enough, NFTS Composing MA graduate, Alexandra Harwood won Best Sound for Neck and Neck along with Sound Designer David Pringle. Neck and Neck is inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello and directed by Shaun Clark.  

(Still from Neck and Neck)

Poles Apart tells the story of an unlikely meeting between Nanuk, a tough female polar bear, and Aklak, an enthusiastic male grizzly bear, brought together by their changing habitats. The lack of food in a melting Arctic has left the solitary Nanuk desperately hungry. When the hopeful and eager Aklak crashes into Nanuk's world, she has to decide if the naive grizzly bear is her food or her friend.

A Love Story takes place in a universe entirely made of wool: “It’s love at first sight for our two beings… but will their relationship survive the onslaught of depression that takes over their lives.”

The Teams:

(Annushka and team collecting her British Short Animation BAFTA)

A Love Story - Director Anushka Naanayakkara; Producer Khaled Gad; Writers Elena Ruscombe-King, Anushka Naanayakkara; Designer Solrun Ósk Jóndóttir ; DoPs Yinka Edward, Alvilde Horjen Naterstad; Editor Joseph Comar; Composer Victor Hugo Fumagalli; Sound Designer Marcin Szumilas; VFX Supervisors Ye Teng; Eloise Tomlinson; Online Editor/Colourist Vlad Barin; Lead Animators Anushka Naanayakkara, Iván Sarrion Soria; Animators Robert Millard, Adrian Piqueras Sánchez; Modelmakers Amalie Vilmar, Alicia Canovas Verdú, Joanna Brooks, Katherine Millar Craig; Art Assistants Lenka Dobranska, Alice La Trobe, Manuela Romero, Louisa Brooks, Emily Hake; VFX Artists Gillian Simpson, Zhao Xi, Li Suoran, Zhuge Bijun, Alexander Davis; Vocals Lucia Bulgheroni, Hollie Buhagiar, Marina Elderton Cinematography Advisers Leigh Alner, Ben Hecking; Production Manager Simone Tomasi; Production Coordinators Agnieszka Pawlowska, Inês Lourenço.

(Paloma and producer, Ser En Low collecting their British Short Animation BAFTA)

Poles Apart - Director/ Writer/ Animator – Paloma Baeza; Producer, Ser En Low; Cinematographer, Jon Muschamp; Production Designer, Paula Giménez; Production Manager, Florencia Casas; Production Co-ordinator, Sophie Halton; Editor, Zsofia Tálas; Sound Designer & Re-recording Mixer, Morgan Muse; Compser, Hollie Buhagiar; VFX Supervisor, Gillian Simpson; CG Supervisors, Ollie Brummell, Shivani Shah; Colourist & Online Editor, Alex Davis.

If you are a budding animator and would like to find out more about our Directing Animation MA, sign up to our Animation open day on the 27th April 2018 – more information at


Natural History Students Enjoy Masterclass with one of the World’s Best Underwater Cameramen

Frequently described as one of the world’s best underwater cameramen, Doug Allan treated the first and second year Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA students to a fascinating masterclass.

(Doug with NFTS Directing & Producing Science & Natural History student, Asihan Khang)

Doug has worked at the very peak of wildlife documentary for decades; ever since he bumped into David Attenborough in the Antarctic! He is the recipient of two Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Cinematography for Blue Planet (2001) and Planet Earth (2006). He has also received a TV BAFTA for Blue Planet and was awarded the BAFTA Scotland Craft Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film or Television in 2017.

Doug talked about some of the amazing film shoots he had been on, from living at minus 30C in the Arctic, to diving under Antarctic ice and from filming packs of killer whales attacking seals on ice flows, to swimming in tropical waters with friendly whale sharks. The masterclass covered how to get started in the industry as well and delivered many tips about directing both people and wildlife.

The masterclass was an inspiring and privileged look at how top-end science and wildlife films are made.

If you are a budding wildlife filmmaker, don’t miss the course open day on the 23rd April – sign up at


NFTS As Seen on TV!

BAFTA Win Covered on BBC, ITV & Sky

News crews have become a common sight over the past couple of weeks as the BBC, ITV and Sky have visited the School to cover our Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema BAFTA, which we collected at the ceremony on Sunday 18th February 2018.

BBC Senior Entertainment Reporter, Chi Chi Izundu was first to the School and interviewed NFTS alumni including Oscar winning composer, Dario Marianelli and recent Composing MA graduate, Jessica Jones who both worked on Darkest Hour.

Sky were up next and Reporter, Katerina Vittozzi interviewed Production Design MA student, Theo Boswell and Assistant Directing Diploma student, Stephanie Bradshaw about their experience of working with the Digital Effects MA students on this year’s horror style Gorefest set.

ITV visited after we collected the BAFTA and were lucky enough to interview legendary Blade Runner 2049 Director, Denis Villeneuve who was at the School to give a masterclass and they got to film the actual NFTS BAFTA itself!

It wasn't only TV that covered our exciting news. BBC Three Counties Radio also got in on the action and interviewed NFTS Director, Jon Wardle on why the NFTS was to receive such a prestigious award and why the UK is experiencing such a boom in film and television production - listen again here.

And here is the special video BAFTA created to celebrate our award plus Jon Wardle and former NFTS Director, Nik Powell's acceptance speeches:

If you would like to study at our BAFTA-winning School, sign up to one of our upcoming open days at

NFTS Alumnus Wins ‘Best Cinematography’ Oscar for ‘Blade Runner 2049‘

14th Time Lucky for Roger Deakins

NFTS alumnus, Roger Deakins – who has been nominated for an Oscar an incredible 14 times - finally won an Academy Award last night for ‘Best Cinematography’ for Blade Runner 2049.

Roger thanked his team in his acceptance speech saying: “I really love my job. I’ve been doing it a long time, as you can see, but one of the reasons I really love it is the people I work with, both behind the camera and in front of the camera. This is for every one of them.”

(Denis Villeneuve signing a Blade Runner 2019 poster for NFTS students)

Blade Runner 2049 director, Denis Villeneuve visited the School the day after Roger won a BAFTA for ‘Best Cinematography’ for the film and praised Roger for - “the strength of his storytelling as well as being a master with light; I learn so much working with Roger.”

(Roger Deakins with NFTS first year students)

Roger also visited the School recently and delivered an inspiring masterclass for the new first year students advising them: “So much of filmmaking is a jigsaw. It might be weeks apart from location to set but it needs to flow and feel like one piece.” During the same visit, the Cinematography MA students were treated to a lighting workshop of a lifetime and he took them for pizza – what a legend!

(Roger on location in Switzerland filming his NFTS graduation film, Horse Boy)

Two more NFTS alumni were nominated for Oscars including Stuart Wilson who clocked up his fifth nomination, this time for Star Wars: The Last Jedi in the ‘Sound Mixing’ category. Hugh Welchman received his second Oscar nomination, having won an Oscar previously for short film, Peter and The Wolf. His 2018 nomination was in the ‘Animated Feature’ category for, Loving Vincent.

If you would like to follow in Roger’s footsteps, sign up for our upcoming Cinematography MA open day on the 7th March 2018 –

‘Black Panther’ Exec Producer Discusses Diversity and Why ‘Different is Good’ in a Rousing NFTS Masterclass

NFTS students were treated to a special preview of highly anticipated and acclaimed “subversive” superhero movie from Marvel Studios, Black Panther followed by a masterclass with the film’s Executive Producer and Marvel Studios Vice President of Development and Production, Nate Moore.

Widely praised by critics, Black Panther is described as “a superhero with purpose” by Variety; “an African extravaganza that packs a muscular intensity and challenges as much as it exhilarates” by Empire and a “subversive and uproarious action-adventure, in which African stereotypes are upended and history is rewritten” in The Guardian.

Black Panther is the story of T’Challa, a young African prince who takes on the mantle of King and super hero, and the centuries’ old legacy that comes with it. The groundbreaking character made its first appearance in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1” Issue 52, published in 1966 and was soon firmly established as a fan favourite, crossing racial and cultural lines.  The imagery of a regal African King and his super hero alter ego continued to resonate with fans over the years and in 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed T’Challa/Black Panther and introduced him to its fan base in Captain America: Civil War

The session was hosted by journalist, Dan Jolin who began the Q&A by asking Nate what his role as Executive Producer entailed. Nate explained: “My job is to make sure the film is good from soup to nuts (from beginning to end). It’s very hands-on from selecting the director (Ryan Coogler) and writer (Joe Robert Cole) to helping hire in the production heads. If you don’t have a great crew, it’s hard to execute the vision and this movie was particularly complicated due to the detail required for the costumes and production design. We had to ride the balance between what makes a great individual movie whilst keeping to true to the Marvel universe.”

On Marvel’s recent tendency to select directors who haven’t worked on big VFX movies before like Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and The Russo brothers (Captain America: Civil War; Avengers: Infinity War), Nate said: “The tech stuff can be taught. What matters is that the director can get a performance. We look for someone who is most germane to the story in question. It’s also better sometimes to find people who haven’t done a movie like this before so you get something unique. We want filmmakers who push us as that’s when you get cool ideas.”

Nate continued: “Our approach is that the content is based on super heroes but the film can be any genre. We were going for ‘The Godfather meets James Bond’ with Black Panther whereas Spiderman: Homecoming was made in the high school genre. Audiences want something different now, which means we can push the envelope but still build on the Marvel tapestry.”

Dan asked Nate if Marvel felt a sense of responsibility in making a movie that represents such a milestone in mainstream filmmaking. Nate responded: “The truth is that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the movie as good as possible so we didn’t get much time to think about the wider context of the movie. It was only at the end of the shooting day that we had time to think that this could be something really special. It had to work so it would enable other movies to be made like it; we had to blaze a trail.”

A self-proclaimed “genuine comic nerd”, Nate felt a personal connection to many of the Marvel characters and the Black Panther character particularly ‘spoke to him’: “As a black kid seeing someone like you helps you feel acknowledged. The comics were ahead of their time in addressing issues like refugees. It’s because it’s part of the source material that Black Panther rings true.  The challenge was to make the narrative propulsive and work as a piece of entertainment in its own right while addressing the social issues without forcing it.”

Nate was clear on the direction Marvel is travelling with regards to diversity:  “We are absolutely looking to be as diverse as possible in front and behind the camera. Black Panther is part of a wider initiative to be more inclusive. Different is good. Ryan made sure that the crew was pretty much 50/50 male and female and I hope it’s something Hollywood takes a cue from.”

If you would like to attend masterclasses like these, why not find out about our courses at an upcoming open day -




Upcoming Event: NFTS 2018 Graduation Showcase

AMD Confirmed as Graduation Showcase Sponsor

This year the NFTS annual Graduation Showcase will be sponsored by the processor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). From CPUs and GPUs to server processors, AMD delivers the technology needed for today’s modern end-to-end digital pipeline, which requires robust workstations and servers for massive data sets, countless pixels, secure servers, and cloud-based services.

Jon Wardle, NFTS Director, says: “It’s fantastic to have AMD Studios as this year’s NFTS Graduation Showcase sponsor. Blending the art of storytelling with the latest technologies is at the heart of the School’s philosophy and our partnership with AMD is a testament to that approach.”

The graduation showcase is a series of events and screenings in February and March 2018 featuring over 80 projects spanning a wide range of genres from fiction and animation to documentary, video games, commercials and television entertainment.

The event attracts influential industry representatives from the worlds of film, TV and games who come to experience the graduation projects and meet the stars of the future. AMD is proud to come on board as this year’s graduation showcase sponsor to continue their support of the future of high tech creation.

In the previous year, NFTS Games Design and Digital Effects students and recent alumni have worked with AMD to deliver a series of Virtual Reality projects as part of the School’s Bridges to Industry scheme. The students were among the first in the UK to access AMD’s latest Radeon™ Pro WX7100 graphic cards, which are capable of developing and driving VR experiences at a high fidelity level. The student projects include interactive and immersive VR experiences using real-time rendered 3D computer graphics and an entertaining and inspiring 360˚ video project.

To find out more about the NFTS, why not sign up to one of our open days – sign up here!

Industry guests who would like to attend an NFTS graduation showcase event, please visit