Our credits tell the story.

‘Against All Odds’ Wins ‘Best Unscripted Pilot’ at New York TV Festival

National Film and Television School graduation Television Entertainment project, Against All Odds, created by Lucy Smith and Jamie Minty, has won ‘Best Unscripted Pilot/ Alternative Project’ at this year’s New York Television Festival’s (NYTVF) flagship Independent Pilot Competition (IPC). Against All Odds was the only UK project to be selected.

NFTS Head of Television, David G. Croft said: “I’m so proud of Lucy, Jamie and the team. This is an incredible achievement and one that shows that the work our students do in the Television Entertainment department is of a very high standard and capable of being recognised internationally.”

Jamie said: "It was such an honour to be selected and invited out to the New York Television Festival, let alone win our category! When we were developing the show, wondering how on earth we were going to be able to safely get our crew to hike up a mountain with all of their kit, we could never have imagined the show would take us all the way to New York.We are so proud to see the show go from strength to strength, with an option already under our belt and now the award, we can't wait to see where it goes next. It really is a testament to our NFTS crew's hard work and  their passion for the project. We are so grateful to the school for letting us make the show and supporting our mad idea from start to finish. I don't think there is anywhere else in the world where we could have made Against All Odds. Lucy and I made a fantastic team and we can't wait to work together again in the future."

(Jamie filming on location)

Lucy said: “What a result!  Jamie and I are so proud to be returning home with the NYTVF award for best unscripted pilot, it’s testament to our entire team’s thighs, determination and hard work throughout the entire process.  From our brilliant PMs in pre-production, to our throw-anything-at-us production crew, to our amazing post-production team… big congratulations to you all.”

About Against All Odds
In Against All Odds, five ordinary strangers each choose one of five locked bags – four contain blank paper, one contains £100,000 in cash. Over three days the team must carry their bags on an epic journey across some of the UK’s toughest natural landscapes for the chance to split the money at the finish line. Who will have the grit to make it to the end? Who will be broken by the unforgiving forces of nature? And will the contestant carrying the money even cross the finish line?

The Team:

Producer, Lucy Smith; Director, Jamie Minty; Camera, Mostyn Maltpress, Matt Murnaghan, Julie Rocque; Production Co-ordinator, Sophie Halton; Location Sound, Hosea Ntaborwa, Nick Olorenshaw, Rory Rea; Composer, Louis Dodd; Dubbing Mixer, Mark Bailey; Sound Editor, Sam Boulton; Graphics, Kelvin Chim; Colourist & Online Editor, David Sheldon.

The NYTVF is dedicated to identifying and nurturing top independent creative talent and connecting it with networks, studios, digital media companies, agencies, and brands.

For more information on the NFTS Directing and Producing Television Entertainment MA and to apply for a January 2018 start, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/tvent and to sign up for our upcoming online open day on Tuesday 7th November at 1pm, sign up at www.nfts.co.uk/opendays

Thor: Ragnarok Director Taika Waititi has NFTS Students in Stitches with his Hilarious & Informative Masterclass

“We Want You to Ragnarok This Franchise!”

NFTS students are regularly treated to incredible and highly entertaining masterclasses from top filmmakers but rarely are they in fits of laughter from start to finish.  Oscar nominee, actor, director and writer, Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) had the students in stitches throughout a special preview of his new film, Thor: Ragnarok and for the full duration of his brilliant masterclass where he discussed improvisation and the importance of developing and believing in your unique voice as a director.

Thor: Ragnarok has received rave reviews with Nicholas Barber describing it on BBC.com as ‘Marvel’s best yet’ and Thor’s ‘most enjoyable outing so far’ and Little White Lies declaring it as potentially ‘the greatest Marvel movie.’

The session was hosted by NFTS Director, Jon Wardle, who opened by asking Taika about doing the motion capture and the voiceover for one of the characters in the movie, the very funny, giant rock monster, Korg. Taika based Korg on Polynesian bouncers who he describes as “softly spoken, gentle giants.” He continued: “It’s a good reprieve for the audience to have someone gentle like an auntie in an action movie.”

On how an indie filmmaker from New Zealand was chosen to direct a blockbuster Marvel movie, Taika said: “I was editing Hunt for the Wilderpeople in Hawaii, just hanging out there, and Marvel approached me. My first thought was, ‘Marvel’s given up!’”

And on his approach to directing the movie: “My strength isn’t superhero movies. Marvel knows what it’s doing in the superhero department. If you try and reinvent the wheel, that’s when you run into problems.  My strengths are people talking about their feelings, tone, character, jokes, dialogue, so I focussed on that and making a good film. It was a risky move to do a Thor movie as an indie director. I didn’t want to be the one to pull a Jenga piece out and collapse the Marvel tower! I felt very confident in my voice after making three films and that gave me the confidence to do a Marvel movie that would be unique. That’s what’s so great about Marvel; they don’t go for the obvious choice.”

Much of Thor: Ragnarok is improvised and Taika likes to foster a celebratory feel on set and enable “a good, creative, open space to adlib.” Improvisation and adlibbing can make things challenging for the crew including the VFX team. Taika said: “I would ask VFX Producer, Jake Morrison, ‘can I put something in the movie’ and he puts a dot somewhere and you have to trust it will look good afterwards. I have huge respect for VFX; you can have anything you want if the lighting is right. The amount done in post-production is mindboggling!”

Taika’s love of improvisation often leads to longer shoots which can make editing a challenge. “No editor likes my editing system! I say to my first editor, I’m going to fire you after four months. Then I hire another and fire them. Then I do some editing myself and then bring back the original editor who finishes it! You get fresh eyes this way and I hate being in a dark room with one person for six months, you go stir crazy.”

The adlibbing meant that the jokes and comedy were done in a different way to Marvel’s standard process. Taika explained: “The usual structure is to write jokes six months before the shoot, whereas I go to set with the script, which I see as a suggestion of a scene and ask ‘how can we make it better? Marvel was very supportive and gave me lots of freedom and the result is that it feels very alive and in the moment.”

On the challenge of working with established characters, Taika said: “We were able to reboot the series and give it a rebirth without having to recast the characters. Chris Hemsworth has great comedic timing but this hadn’t been exploited so far. Marvel asked me to ‘Ragnarok this franchise!’ I put the play featuring Thor, Loki and Odin in the movie as a way of saying everything you remember about the Thor franchise stops here.”

On what’s next, Taika revealed that he was directing a stop motion animation film about the life and times of Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee, Bubbles, but was undecided about whether to do a live action version of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6-volume graphic novel, Akira: “I’m not sure about doing Akira, it’s a very hard project to do.”

Before taking the time to pose for several photos with the students, Taika gave the following advice: “Don’t let anyone tell you that something isn’t possible even if they are older. Don’t be arrogant about it, you need to be receptive. Look for collaborators who are fun and who listen.”

Thor: Ragnarok is in cinemas now and credits the following NFTS graduates: Environment Technical Director, Zach du Toit; Digital Compositors, Luke Hardisty & Felipe Olid Guerrero; Production Assistant, Suzanne Mayger.


3 NFTS Grads Named as BAFTA Breakthrough Brits

Choë Thomson, Mahalia Belo & Segun Akinola

We would like to congratulate no fewer than three of our alumni who have been included in BAFTA’s 2017 list of 20 of the UK’s most promising future stars of film, games and television.

Choë Thomson (NFTS Cinematography MA graduate), Mahalia Belo (NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate) and Segun Akinola (NFTS Composing for Film and Television MA graduate) have been named as Breakthrough Brits at an event hosted by Maya Jama at the global Burberry flagship store on Regent Street in London. The group will be supported by BAFTA over the next 12 months as they progress their careers.

Actor and Breakthrough Brits juror Will Poulter said: “I jumped at the chance to be part of the Breakthrough Brits Jury because what I love most about BAFTA as an organisation is that it isn’t just commending people for reaching a certain height in their career. They are also doing so much work to nurture talent and provide people with the opportunity to get to that level.”

Chloë was given her first 35mm camera when she was 16, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she took her first steps towards becoming a professional cinematographer. After taking a keen interest in the art of cinematography, Chloë went on to study the subject at the NFTS. As a place where you shoot and create nearly every day, she describes her time there as a steep learning curve, but one that has made her what she is today. Chloë says that, as a DP, you rely on projects coming to you from other people, and so building good relationships with filmmakers is important for your future.

Mahalia wanted to work in film the moment she saw her first movie, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Growing up, she shot thousands of photographs, even developing her own 35mm film in the family bathroom. But the moment she first understood the role of director was when she gained work experience on the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley with director Anthony Minghella.  As an undergraduate, Mahalia realised that she liked stories which began from a feeling, and at the NFTS she found herself in a world-class school that gave her the time to work with actors and crews that shared her passion. Having won a BAFTA for Ellen, her first long-form drama for television, Mahalia is now working towards her debut feature.

Having played piano and drums since the age of five, it clicked eventually for Segun that composing for the screen would allow him to combine his love of both music and stories, and after a stint of work experience with a features composer, he was convinced it was where his future lay. After graduating with a BA in Composition from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and then from an MA in Composing for Film and Television at the NFTS, Segun began building his credits as a composer for the screen. Before long, Segun would score BBC Two’s landmark series Black and British: A Forgotten History. His breakthrough in features came when he composed fellow NFTS graduate, Shola Amoo’s A Moving Image. For anyone wanting to get into composing, Segun’s advice is to listen to as many different types of music as possible, and to analyse what you hear so that you can build an understanding of your medium.


NFTS Documentary Grad Film Receives IDA Awards Nomination

Chomo, an NFTS documentary graduation film, directed by documentary filmmaking graduate, Maayan Arad, has been nominated for the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award by the highly prestigious International Documentary Association.

The IDA (International Documentary Association) Documentary Awards is the world’s most significant recognition of the best non-fiction films and programmes of the year while the David L. Wolper Award recognises exceptional achievement in non-fiction film and video production at university level and brings greater public and industry awareness to the work of students in the documentary field.

Chomo is the only film from outside the USA in the list of five nominees and is our third nomination in five years for this competition. The winners will be announced on 9th December in Los Angeles.

Chomo is about a community of Buddhist nuns from Tibet and focuses on Chomo, a woman who is now in the 7th of 21 years of study.

The Team:  Maayan Arad: Director, Cinematographer and Producer; Production Managers, Marta Henriquez, Alicja Kielbasa; Graphic Designer Damián Galán Álvarez; Editor, Jamie Kataky; Sound Recordist, Rory Rea; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Michalianna Theofanopoulou; Composer, Matthew Peters; Colourist & Online Editor, Vlad Barin; Producer, Khaled Gad.)

For more information about the NFTS Directing Documentary MA, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/documentary

David Fincher talks filmmaking and his new Netflix series Mindhunter with NFTS students

The iconic director David Fincher thrilled NFTS students with a Masterclass - discussing his new Netflix TV series, Mindhunter, and his films such as Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en and Zodiac. 

The Q&A, full of laughter as well as inspiration and advice, was hosted by director, screenwriter and contributing editor to Empire Magazine, Nev Pierce.

Nev began by asking David about what drew him to make Mindhunter, which is on Netflix from 13th October“I wanted to explore the passing of the baton from J Edgar Hoover’s FBI to the modern FBI.  When they began to reconsider how they would interface with this new serial killer type – that they could try and learn from them.  The FBI was invented to allow them to cross jurisdictional lines.  Without that flow of information between states people had literally been getting away with murder.” David explained.  “Mindhunter talks about the mundanity of evil.  It lives down the street.”       

Discussing the choice to explore this in a TV series, rather than a film, David said he loved the way complex characters could develop over the length of time a series allows.  “Watching Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, I realised that on TV an audience will go for a flawed human character, if you show them enough facets.  And you need time to do that.  I love the idea of hearing the stories of people who should be beneath our contempt.  The wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Asked by one of the students about how he creates tension, David described it as “the building of elements to set questions in an audience’s mind.  It starts with the script, and then it’s how the cake is dressed.  How many layers of discomfort does the protagonist have to wade through?  It’s how you feel it.” Continuing, “In Zodiac there’s a scene with a projectionist in a basement – it’s a total red herring, but on an enjoyment factor – it’s what you go to the movies for.”

Talking about how he chooses who to work with, David praised the value of flexibility; the people who don’t just present an idea ‘this is how it’s going to be’, but are open to working with all the departments, adaptable and ready to try something new in the moment.  “The people who can step back and look at the broader picture.”

Asked about whether he is given more freedom in TV or in film, David laughed “I don’t get given any freedom – I take it!”  He urged the students “you have to have rules and, you personally, have to abide by them.  In the end the only power you have is to walk away.  And if you do not avail yourself of it, you’re powerless.  Have your rules and hold other people accountable.  And hold yourself accountable.” 


Screen Magazine Names NFTS Directing Graduate 'Star Of Tomorrow'

Congratulations to NFTS directing graduate, Rory Alexander Stewart who has just been named in Screen International’s prestigious 'Stars of Tomorrow' 2017 list. NFTS graduates who have received this prestigious accolade have gone on to achieve considerable success and include Doctor Foster composer, Stuart Earl, Penny Dreadful screenwriter, Krysty Wilson-Cairns and director of Cuffs and Ripper Street, Nick Rowland. 

Rory’s NFTS graduation film, Wild Horses, which he directed and co-wrote, was selected for this year’s Cinéfondation short film strand at the Cannes film festival and was one of just 16 films selected from 2600 works submitted by film schools from all over the world.

(Still from Wild Horses)

Speaking to Screen, Rory said: “Cannes is a great chance to get your foot in the door and I took a lot of selfies!”

Rory is from Leith in Scotland and came to the NFTS after studying film production at Bournemouth. His first major industry recognition came when he wrote Martin Smith’s short Liar, for which he won the BAFTA New Talent writing award in 2013. He has also won The Skinny/Innis & Gunn short film competition for no-budget improvised short Good Girl (2014), a mockumentary about an Alsatian that may also be an alien and was nominated for the Channel 4 Innovation in Storytelling Award for  Misery Guts.

(Behind the scenes photo from Wild Horses)

Since graduating from the NFTS, Rory is developing a feature-length version of his 2016 short In The Grass, titled Organs In The Grass, through the Belgium-based Less Is More writing lab. He describes it as a “Fargo-like” dark comedy about a pair of murder detectives. “My aim is to be on the way to making a feature within a year,” says Rory. “I am ambitious in that regard.”

NFTS Film Curating Students LFF Top Picks

Top Twenty Must See Films at the BFI London Film Festival

Choosing which films to view at a high profile film festival like the BFI London Film Festival can be daunting; a grand total of 242 feature films including 29 world premieres, eight international premieres, and 34 European premieres, a range which will give even the most experienced film enthusiast a challenge when deciding what to see.  

So to help you, second year students on our Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA, which is run in partnership with the BFI, have applied their curatorial skills to pick their top 20 must see films at this year’s festival, which kicks off on the 4th October and runs until the 15th October. Selecting, programming and reviewing films lies at the heart of their studies, with many of the students aspiring to work as curators and programmers at festivals when they graduate. Here are their most highly anticipated and recommended films:

1 - Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman)

For decades, Frederick Wiseman has presented audiences with immersive, non-interventionist documentary portraits of a large number of American institutions. Here he turns his gaze to the staff and users of the New York Public Library, observing small human moments as well as documenting the impact of digitisation and the march of progress on our libraries in what should be timely and unmissable documentary film making. On a related side-note, a restoration of the Maysles brothers terrific 1969 documentary about bible salesmen also screens at the festival. (Mark Donaldson)

2 – The Florida Project (Sean Baker)

Received with rave reviews at Cannes, Sean Baker betters his iPhone-shot debut, Tangerine, with another powerful portrait of the American underclass. This time he captures the restless energy of the children living in a motel next to Disney World, while raising thought-provoking questions about education and social opportunity in the States. A mostly non-professional cast joins Willem Dafoe who nails his best role in ages. (Roberto González)

3 - The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos)

Yorgos Lanthimos follows up his beloved, twisted The Lobster with a searing, Kubrickian psychological horror film that creeps under the skin and stays with you days after you leave the cinema. Gloriously filmed and atmospherically haunting, it’s a tense and jarring work from one of today’s best filmmakers. (Andrew Espe)

4 – You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay – NFTS Graduate)

Lynne Ramsay's latest film centres on an ex-soldier attempting to rescue a kidnapped girl from a sex-trafficking ring, a story beloved of genre cinema. But this isn't interested in the bloody retribution of a Liam Neeson character, rather it's a brutal and poetic portrait of the internal struggle of a man, played by Joaquin Phoenix, whose whole life has been violence. (Mark Donaldson)

5 - A Fantastic Woman (Sebastián Lelio)

After his wonderful Gloria, Sebastián Lelio returns with another portrait of a headstrong woman, this time having to deal with hostility and rejection for being transgender after the death of her long-time partner. (Maureen Gueunet)

6 - Happy End (Michael Haneke)

Michael Haneke’s portrait of a dysfunctional bourgeois Calais family offers a summary – and a bracingly intelligent, partly satirical update – on themes from his previous films. (Maria Bolocan)

7 - Araby (Affonso Uchôa and João Dumans) 

Araby follows drifter Cristiano as he wanders across Brazil from job to job, from one experience to another. A slow melancholic ramble across a country and a sad song to the open road. (David Perrin)

8 - Angels Wear White (Vivian Qu)

An incredibly beautiful Chinese drama, Angels Wear White is sweet and powerful, and delivers a strong commentary on the place of the woman in Chinese society. (Nicolas Raffin)

9 - Foxtrot (Samuel Maoz)

After the formidable  Lebanon (2009) brought us inside a tank in the middle of the war in Lebanon, Samuel Maoz’s second fiction reflects on the same tragedy - war- but this time from within the family circle. The film, winner of the Silver Lion and critical acclaim in Venice, reminds us yet again how consuming and devastating the war in the Middle East is. (Nicolas Raffin)

10 - Good Manners (Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas)

Those who believe everything has been already done should check the work of this Brazilian couple, fresh from winning a special jury prize at Locarno. What initially looks like a study of class differences, told through the relationship between a well-off, pregnant woman and the maid she hires to help her, unexpectedly becomes a genre bending experience that hops from horror to musical, turning into a fairy tale with more plot twists than a soap opera. (Roberto González)

11 - Jeune Femme (Léonore Serraille)

A wicked film for a wayward woman, Léonore Serraile’s first feature draws the portrait of self-destructive Paula. At a complete loss in her life, she takes dubious routes to get herself back on track. Laeticia Dosch’s dizzy performance and Julie Roue’s poppy music thrillingly embody Paula’s chaotic and heart-warming personality, a must-see at the LFF!  (Maureen Gueunet)

12 - Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

Through the disappearance of a child, Zvyagintsev reveals the soullessness of a divorced couple, offering a harrowing but deeply effective glimpse into the moral abyss of contemporary society. (Irene Silvera Frischknecht )

13 - The Shape Of Water (Guillermo Del Toro)

I am excited about any new film from Guillermo del Toro, but I’m especially happy that this new fantasy allows for Sally Hawkins to sink her teeth into a lead role. Versatile and yet undeniably empathetic, Hawkins is one of the best contemporary actors and I can’t wait to see her talent matched with del Toro’s singular aesthetic and voice. (Andrew Espe)

14 - Thelma (Joachim Trier – NFTS graduate)

A teenage girl taps into some long-dormant powers, in this chiller from Joachim Trier, director of Oslo, August 31st. (Maria Bolocan)

15 - Close-Knit (Naoko Ogigami)

Naoko Ogigami is one of Japan's most celebrated contemporary women directors. Moving away from her habitual quirky character studies, her new feature about a neglected girl who is taken in by her uncle and his transgender partner, promises a whole new outlook on the Japanese family drama. (Irene Silvera Frischknecht )

16 - Good Time (The Safdie Brothers) 

Fully embracing the heist-film genre, Good Time sends Robert Pattinson, a sleazy incompetent bank robber, into the New York night (shot beautifully by Sean William Price in 35mm) hatching plan after ridiculous plan in an attempt to spring his hospital bound brother out of police custody. (David Perrin)

17 - Zama (Lucrecia Martel)

Long-awaited, Lucrecia Martel’s new film screened in Venice to enthusiastic critical response. Promising to be a risk-taking work in terms of aesthetics and narrative and its depiction of colonialism in Latin America, this will certainly be one of the most surprising films at LFF. (Maureen Gueunet)

18 - Dark River (Cleo Barnard – NFTS graduate)

British talent is not in short supply in this edition, but Barnard's new work is the one I'm most intrigued by. Both her innovative documentary debut, The Arbor, and her incursion in the Loach tradition of social realism with The Selfish Giant, revealed a strong, versatile authorial voice. This adaptation of Rose Tremain's novel 'Tresspass' should affirm her as one of today's most essential directors. (Roberto González)

19 - Journeyman (Paddy Considine)

Following on from 2011's Tyrannosaur, actor, director and writer Paddy Considine's second feature promises to be another stirring tale contrasting brutal masculinity with tender emotion. The film focuses on boxer Matty Burton's (Considine) struggle to recover from a head injury that has altered his personality and how this affects his relationship with his wife (Jodie Whittaker) and daughter. (Mark Donaldson)

20 - The Mærsk Opera (Superflex)

Superflex create an operatic interpretation of the building of Copenhagen’s famous performance space, one of Europe’s most controversial buildings. Experimental film (Maria Bolocan)

Bonus track!

21 – 9 Fingers (FJ Ossang)

It is probably the only occasion to see this film on the UK territory for a long time. Lyrical and punk, 9 Doigts is representative of a rebirth of the French underground scene, at least on the international festival scene.  (Nicolas Raffin)

If you are inspired by our students’ choices or think you could do better, why not apply for our Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA, which is delivered in partnership with the BFI? Applications are open now until October 16th and the two-year course starts in January 2018.

And if this wasn't enough, find out which films made by NFTS graduates are competing in the first feature competition in our second blog focussed on the BFI London Film Festival.

11 NFTS Students Receive BAFTA Scholarships

An incredible 11 NFTS students have been awarded prestigious BAFTA scholarships and make up almost a third of the 39 recipients who have received support to enable them to study in the UK or US.

A special event was held at BAFTA’s headquarters to welcome 15 of the new scholarship recipients in the UK. In addition to financial support, the BAFTA Scholars will gain free access to BAFTA events and receive one-to-one mentoring from BAFTA members, award-winners and nominees.

Two NFTS students – Daisy Fernandez (Games Design and Development MA) and Hannah Cole (Production Management for Film and Television Diploma) -  will receive the Prince William Scholarships in Film, Games and Television, supported by BAFTA and Warner Bros. These scholarships – an integral element of Warner Bros. Creative Talent, Warner Bros.’ investment in UK creative industries’ skills and training – are awarded in the name of HRH The Duke of Cambridge in his role as President of BAFTA. Their fees will be funded by Warner Bros., and they each will receive a short funded work placement with the Warner Bros. group of companies in the UK, access to a Warner Bros. mentor, and invitations to Warner Bros.’ series of industry masterclasses.

Daisy said: “I am thrilled to have been recognised by BAFTA at this stage in my education. To have the backing of an organisation such as BAFTA, as well as Warner Bros. through the Prince William Scholarship, is not only a vote of confidence in my creative abilities, but an acknowledgement that my background in humanities is an asset when designing video games.” Applications are open for the NFTS Games Design and Development MA until the 16th October 2017 and the course starts in January 2018 - to apply, please visit www.nfts.co.uk/games - you can also come and see the current NFTS students' graduation games in the Rezzed area at EGX, which is taking place between the 21st and 24th September 2017 at Birmingham NEC.

Hannah says; “I'm very grateful to be awarded a BAFTA Scholarship, and am hugely honoured to be named a Prince William Scholar through the support of Warner Bros. It means I'm able to focus on the course without having the added pressures of trying to fund my studies alongside the course. To be supported by such prestigious organisations is a proud achievement and I'm looking forward to seeing what opportunities it brings.”

Haolu Wang (Directing Fiction MA), Robert Chen (Production Sound for Film and Television Diploma), Qingling Zhang (second year Production Design MA) and Yanling Wang (Producing MA) are all Chinese BAFTA Scholars. They will receive funding towards tuition fees and, in some cases, a bursary for living expenses, to study at the NFTS, as part of BAFTA’s aim to encourage UK-China cross-cultural exchange.

Haolu says: “It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be awarded a BAFTA scholarship. The mentorship and talent support provided to the BAFTA scholars will be very valuable for my future career.”

Robert says: “I feel both lucky and grateful for being awarded a BAFTA Scholarship. It relieved my financial burden and made it possible for me to start my course. BAFTA not only has supported me financially, but also provides valuable resource linked to the film and TV industry. With the help from BAFTA, I will be able to focus more on my studies, have the opportunity to meet and learn from the best sound artists in the industry, and move forward with more confidence toward my career goal.”

Yanling says: “As a young filmmaker, it is really a great honour and encouragement. I am very grateful to BAFTA for giving me a good chance to be closer to my producer dream. BAFTA is a great platform for me to learn more about film industry and have more opportunities to meet more extraordinary filmmakers. With this honour, I will advance confidently in the direction of my dream.”

Other NFTS BAFTA Scholars include: Adam Jones (second year Sound Design for Film and Television MA); Chanitra Limpiroj (Sound for Film and Television Diploma); Emily Dring (second year Producing MA); Joel Marshall (Games Design and Development MA) and Tom Dexter (second year Producing MA).

Chanitra said: “I feel so honoured to have been offered such a life-changing opportunity from BAFTA. This scholarship will not only help fund my studies, but will also provide me with heaps of invaluable benefits, such as having a BAFTA mentor and invitations to BAFTA events and masterclasses, which I feel will give me a significant push towards my dream career as a sound recordist.”

Joel said: “I feel incredibly lucky to be awarded this scholarship. The fact that BAFTA has decided that my work and ambition are worth supporting with this scholarship is almost unbelievable and I hope that with their support I can go on to reward their faith in me.”


3 NFTS Grad Films Nominated for Grierson Awards

Over 49 NFTS Students & Grads Credited!

A fantastic three NFTS graduation films have been nominated for the prestigious Grierson Awards that commemorate the pioneering Scottish documentary filmmaker John Grierson (1898 – 1972), famous for Drifters and Night Mail and the man widely regarded as the father of the documentary.

The NFTS films short-listed for the ITV Best Student Documentary category of the Grierson Award are:

Acta Non Verba, an exploration of grief and suicide and the relationship between a father and a son is directed, written and shot by Yvann Yagchi. (Producer, Fawzia Mahmood; Writers: Fiction, Kerri Davenport-Burton; Cinematography: Fiction, Thomas Doran; Production Manager, Sonia Hoogenstraaten, Production Manaer: Fiction, Daniella Rice; Editor, Aurora Vögeli; Sound Recordist, Hosea Ntaborwa; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Morgan Muse; Composer, Segun Akinola.)

Chomo, which about a community of Buddhist nuns from Tibet and focuses on Chomo, a woman who is now in the 7th of 21 years of study, is directed, shot and produced by Maayan Arad  (Production Managers, Marta Henriquez, Alicja Kielbasa; Graphic Designer Damián Galán Álvarez; Editor, Jamie Kataky; Sound Recordist, Rory Rea; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Michalianna Theofanopoulou; Composer, Matthew Peters; Colourist & Online Editor, Vlad Barin; Producer, Khaled Gad.)

Pride In Rags is directed, shot and produced by Tom Whitaker and centres on Dewsbury, a town whose reputation is in tatters due to a number of events which have brought unwanted attention to this small corner of Yorkshire (Production Manager, Daniella Rice; Editor, Rachel Roberts; Sound Recordist, Keith Morrison; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Mark Bailey; Composer, Louis Dodd; Compositor, Alex Davies; Colourist & Online Editor, Vlad Barin.)

For an amazing seventh year running, the NFTS have the most films selected in student documentary section. The awards ceremony takes place on the 6th November at The Mermaid in London.

In addition, no fewer than 49 NFTS students and graduates are credited on projects which have been nominated for this year’s Grierson Awards. These include:

Best Single Documentary - Domestic

Aberfan: The Green Hollow - Sound Effects Editor, Vicente Villaescusa

No Place to Call Home - Director/Producer, Luke Sewell

Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad – Composer, Mat Davidson

Best Single Documentary - International

Unarmed Black Male – Composer, Mat Davidson

Best Arts Documentary

Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories - Writer/Director/Editor, Nick Willing; Producer, Michele Camarda

Best Historical Documentary

Aberfan: The Green Hollow - Sound Effects Editor, Vicente Villaescusa

Destination Unknown, directed by NFTS Directing Documentary tutor, Claire Ferguson

Best Science Documentary

Forces of Nature with Brian Cox Episode 2 - Supervising Sound Editor, Jay Price; Sound, Andy Paddon

Best Entertaining Documentary

First Dates Series 8 Part 1 - Lead Editor, Radoslaw Sienski; Composer, Miguel d’Oliveira

Best Documentary Series

American Justice – Composer, Jon Opstad

Exodus: Our Journey to Europe – Editors, Simon Sykes; Nick Fenton and Sunshine Jackson

Hospital - Director/Producers, Amanda Richardson and Marc Williamson; Assistant Producer, Lyttanya Shannon

DocHouse Best Cinema Documentary

Half Way – Editor, Vera Simmonds; Sound Designer, Luke Shrewsbury

Best Documentary Short

Johanna – Colourist, Susumu Asano

The Refugee Diaries Episode 3 – Editor, Yann Heckmann

For more information on the National Film and Television School, please visit www.nfts.co.uk



A Paean to the Golden Age of British Cinema

‘Their Finest’ Director & Producer Discuss Making a Film about Filmmaking in Wartime Britain

(Still from Their Finest)

With Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk making headlines for its “visceral and powerful” handling of the story of the Dunkirk retreat and the flotilla of small ships that alongside the Royal Navy transported 300,000 troops back to the UK, it was fascinating to watch Their Finest, which deals with the same story but in a very different way.

(Lone Scherfig)

BAFTA nominated, Sundance winning writer-director, Lone Scherfig, introduced the film to a packed audience of expectant students by saying how thankful she was that they were watching the film in a cinema, especially as the opening and end of the film are set in a cinema and convey what it was like to watch a movie at a time when it was the main way of communicating to the masses.

The masterclass was hosted by former NFTS director, Nik Powell, who introduced Lone along with his one-time business partner at Palace Pictures, and BAFTA winning, Oscar nominated producer, Stephen Woolley who produced Their Finest.

(Lone Scherfig with Stephen Woolley)

Stephen explained that he came to the film’s subject through a book recommended to him by a friend who knew he’d like it because of his love for cinema and particularly his love for British films made in the 1940s: “The book – ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’ by Lissa Evans - was about the craziness of making British films in the time of war; it was both funny and moving. The trick for Amanda Posey, my co-producer, and I was to make the movie appeal beyond the fringes of film buffs and show it had a universal resonance. We had to examine the book for human interest angles and explore the period when making films has never been so important. Their Finest is linked to the golden age of British cinema from David Lean’s Brief Encounter, Michael Powell’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp to Ealing studio’s post-war classics such as Kind Hearts And Coronets.”

Stephen continued: “It made sense to centre on Catrin’s story and take a modern view of the time; we also took a risk and mirrored the story by using a first-time writer ourselves in Gaby Chiappe. We made sure the film had dark overtones so the darkness of the time was conveyed. We also wanted to convey the history; many propaganda films were made right here at Beaconsfield Studios at the time and some of those short Ministry Of Information (MOI) films were directed and written by women. It opened up a whole world of possibility; women were suddenly thrust into the limelight because they had to be. The MOI had to get through to the majority of the UK working population who were women; the MOI were behind every aspect of filmmaking at the time from greenlighting films to managing film stock.”

“We wanted to find a director who would be interested in all those things and who could make the film entertaining whilst getting the audience to buy into the characters. I was excited about trying to get Lone on board as I loved her films, Italian for Beginners and An Education, which Posey had also produced. The film had to be a combination of lightness and humour but be grounded in reality and Lone has done this time and again in her films.”

Lone was just as attracted to the film as Stephen was: “I loved the material. Stephen and I share a deep love for cinema. I knew cinema from that era very well in other countries and have had a career a bit like Catrin’s so I had the ability to see things from her point of view. I think seeing people fall in love on screen before they know it, is very beautiful. I really liked the writer, Gaby’s taste, judgement and humour. Once the film was financed, the script had to be redone as it was written for a higher budget but I was determined that the shoot would be ambitious to live up to its tribute to cinema.”

Lone described how they used a combination of real films and documentaries from the time interspersed with fictional versions: “We tried to do it only in a way they could have done it then swapping back and forth from Cinemascope to Academy format.”

(Lone with NFTS Screenwriting students and Head of Screenwriting, Brian Ward)

Nik asked Stephen and Lone about the challenges of working with a relatively small budget and whether compromises needed to be made. Lone replied: “You have to be very critical at script level so you don’t shoot unnecessary scenes when working to a budget.”

Stephen added: “Some of the compromises we needed to make benefitted the film in my opinion. For example, we didn’t use any wide shots of London and we didn’t see everything go up in flames. The film wouldn’t have been made if we had tried to recreate the blitz and the Dunkirk troops on the beach. I’m very proud of the film. The story hasn’t suffered and it’s told so well through the characters’ performance. The DoP, Sebastian Blenkov, is a genius – he applied a ferocious concentration alongside a talent for painting with light.”