The National Film and Television School Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA is designed for students who would like to work in a wide range of roles in film exhibition, as well as those with an interest in distribution, critical writing and archival work. The course is delivered in partnership with the BFI. I spoke to three current students, and asked them why they chose the course and what their career aspirations are.
What made you choose to study Film Studies at NFTS?
Maria: I had heard of NFTS even before I moved to the UK six years ago. If I was to apply for a Masters, it had to be at the NFTS.
Nicolas: I chose to study Film Studies, Programming and Curation at the NFTS for a number of reasons. It was my ambition to study film in one way or another after completing my Bachelor degree. Initially, I thought about directing, but then I discovered the NFTS Film Studies MA and loved the fact that it is set within a film school. That is what attracted me the most: a Film Studies MA in a film school, surrounded by people making films! That makes so much more sense than studying film in a university, completely disconnected from the film world. Also, the NFTS has an incredible reputation.
Roberto: I wanted to reorient my professional career. I have a background in music and thought this MA would be perfect to get into the film industry.
What did you like about the course description?
Nicolas: This course is unique in the UK and in Europe because it combines a theoretical approach to cinema history with a very practical approach to learning one of the most prestigious but also underestimated jobs in the industry: Film programmer. There is a lot of intuition involved when programming films, but there is also a lot that needs to be taught. The partnership with the BFI also attracted me strongly. Many of our tutors have links with the BFI, which plays an essential role in what we do, whether it’s the London Film Festival, its archives or its funding arm.
Maria: The balance between the theoretical and the practical, the link with the BFI, the wide range of areas covered - the course provides a strong foundation to understanding the business and industry of film.
Roberto: It covered the areas I am most interested in such as programming festivals; archives; film criticism; etc.
What were you doing before coming to the NFTS?
Roberto: I was working as a metadata analyst for Shazam, the music recognition app.
Maria: I volunteered and worked at a few film festivals in the UK.
Nicolas: Before coming to the NFTS, I did a bachelor degree in International Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. I actually graduated just last year, and I'm the youngest in my class! I always planned to study a multidisciplinary programme abroad to open my views on the world surrounding me, and then study film. I believe it's essential to be able to understand world issues before studying films, and I considered myself too naive to go directly into studying films right after high school.
What are your career plans after graduating and have they changed since being at the NFTS?
Roberto: I am open to every possibility but programming festivals would still be my main goal. I might be going back to Spain after the course, so I need to do some research on how the industry works over there.
Nicolas: The Film Studies course opens a lot of doors. Essentially, we learn how to programme films and other creative content, but we also have to learn a lot about the post-production process: from sales agencies to distribution and exhibition. I would really like to work in an independent distribution company after graduating but I'm also very interested in programming for venues or festivals. It's very open for now, and will always be: any job in this area interests me! My career plans haven't really changed, but now I feel a lot more capable of actually doing them.
Maria: Initially I was interested in festival programming/curation and exhibition; but as a result of the course, I have also developed an interest in film distribution.
Why would you recommend choosing this Film Studies course over others?
Maria: The course gives you a unique opportunity to meet industry professionals, work with other students and filmmakers, and gain an invaluable insight into the industry and filmmaking.
Roberto: When I read the course description, I knew this was the one I wanted to apply for. My friends in Spain told me how prestigious the NFTS is internationally, which helped convincing me. Once here everything has been excellent from our really nice and knowledgeable tutors to the small group of interesting students from different backgrounds and an impressively wide range of top professionals who visit the school to give us lectures and seminars.
Nicolas: Essentially, understanding, analysing and programming films is the dream of any cinephile. I wanted to study directing but realized that one needs a lot of perseverance to do so because it's extremely hard to be successful in this field. Studying film is also a way to study filmmaking: a lot of programmers combine their profession with filmmaking, which they do as a hobby. I want to continue to make films in that way as a hobby and passion, not something I have to do to make a living. This Film Studies course is the most complete course I have seen and we learn about an incredible range of areas. I love that.
How important is the link with the BFI?
Roberto: Very important as the BFI is another very prestigious institution and is recognised worldwide. I am very much looking forward to my internship there.
Maria: With the help of the BFI we will be able to gain hands on experience during our second year placement; we also have access to various events and screenings.
Nicolas: The link with the BFI is extremely important. It is a luxury to partner with the most significant public film body in the UK. I'm looking forward to doing my internship there: it will be so rewarding. This link is definitely one of the main assets of this course (and we get free tickets for matinée screenings and full accreditation at the London Film Festival - how cool is that?!)
Applications are open now for the NFTS Film Studies, Curation and Programming MA until September 8th 2016 and the course will start in January 2017.