ITV, Channel 4 & BBC former Head gives NFTS masterclass

Plus Simon Beaufoy, Justin Chadwick, Mike Figgis, Steven Knight masterclases

NFTS students today enjoyed a masterclass with Lord Michael Grade (CBE) – one of the most influential figures in British broadcasting whose career encompasses London Weekend Television, the BBC, over nine years as Chief Executive of Channel 4 TV and most recently as Executive chairman of ITV.

Introducing an episode of the hit TV series Borgen titled ‘Divide and Rule’, Michael Grade described it “…a fantastically compelling and intricate drama.”

The Danish one-hour political drama television series, whose name translates as ‘Government’ was a surprise foreign language hit in the UK broadcast on the BBC. It tells the story of charismatic politician Birgitte Nyborg who becomes the first woman Prime Minister of Denmark and has received critical acclaim for the intelligent way it covers issues such as politics, gender and power.

Following the screening, Michael Grade invited students to look at it from the perspective of the choices made by both the programme makers in terms of script, casting, music, lighting etc., as well as the choices that the characters make.

“This is about principles and the choices the characters make in terms of holding on to those principles in the face of desperate odds, or compromising them. There is a sub text about what happens when you are not a team player,” he commented.

Since the TV series was broadcast in Denmark, a woman head of state has been elected, promoting questions from NFTS students about gender politics and whether the writers set out to change society?

In response, he said: “…writers don’t tend to set out to change society, they are usually more concerned about developing a storyline and character. Is this really about gender politics? Why did they chose to make the Prime Minister a woman? Why cast this actress with these features. She is a brilliant actress but ask yourself, could a man have played that role?”

Asked whether he thought a ‘nuanced and adult drama like Borgen could have been made in Britain’, he replied: “Borgen is an incredibly courageous drama for me…When I worked in television there were two rules about programme making: never make a TV show about politics and never make a show about backstage in TV…because it was thought no one cares about what goes on behind the scenes.

“Yes we have had great TV series such as The Politician’s Wife but this wasn’t about politics, it was about the husband and wife relationship. The House of Cards is a study in evil. It’s not really about politics; it’s not about the nitty gritty of political decision making.”

In answer to questions about the quality of screenwriting on British television, he replied: “Where America has had Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire and the Scandinavian countries have had The Bridge, The Killing, Borgen, we have had popular TV series - but British drama has been somewhat pedestrian in recent years; we’ve not seen the authorship coming through in British television.”

After a lively debate, he concludedby saying: “Borgen is a thought provoking show that invites discussion, which is why the show is so compelling to watch. Despite the fact that it’s a foreign language production, no one ever mentions the sub-titles; it so engrossing that the audience soon forgets them. That is a real achievement.” 

Following the Q&A, NFTS Director Nik Powell took the opportunity to present Lord Grade with an award from the British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society (BKSTS) - an organization which serves the technical and craft skills of the film, sound and television industries.

NFTS students recently enjoyed 4 other masterclasses this month with Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom Director Justin Chadwick; Director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Internal Affairs, Timecode); Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy whose film work includes Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours and The Full Monty and Writer/Director Steven Knight and producers Paul Webster and Guy Heeley who's new independent British road thriller Locke is released this spring.

Picture: (L- R) Chris Auty (NFTS Head of Producing), David G Croft (Head of Television Entertainment), Lord Michael Grade ( next to a photo of his uncle Lord Lew Grade) and Nik Powell (NFTS Director).

Source: Reabetswe Moeti

NFTS Grad Wins Sundance Film Festival Prize for Best Cinematography

Book now for Cinematography Open Day on March 14

Congratulations to NFTS graduate Ula Pontikos who has won the Sundance Film Festival prize for Best Cinematography for the film Lilting and fellow graduate Stuart Earl who composed the score. 

Starring actor Ben Wishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas, The Hollow Crown) and Pei Pei Cheng, Lilting is a touching and intimate film about the world of a Chinese mother mourning the untimely death of her son. Through a translator, the piece together memories of a man they both loved.

The Hollywood Reporter says: “Ula Pontikos' cinematography shows an eye for serene compositions, using the vintage wallpaper of the old folks' home or the wintry landscape that surrounds it to add visual texture.”

To book on our next Cinematography OPEN DAY on March 14 click here

Apply for our Cinematography MA course here

NFTS Scoops a Record 6 out of 7 Nominations For Golden Reel Awards

Book now for Sound course Open Days March 7 & 27th

National Film and Television School students have been nominated for a record six out of seven Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards - recognized as the sound-world’s equivalent of the Oscars. The Golden Reel Verna Fields Award for Sound Editing in a Student Film is a prestigious accolade that has been won by the NFTS 11 times since 1996.

This is the School’s 34th nomination, making it consistently the best in the world for sound editing - and it is the only UK school noinated for an award.

The winners will be announced on Sunday 16th February in Los Angeles - congratulations to all of the filmmakers that worked on the film and of course, good luck to the sound designers !

The nominated films are as follows:

 (Sound Designer Filipe Paszkiewicz)
First Light
 (Sound Designer Raoul Brand)
The Magnificent Lion Boy
 (Sound Designer Ania Przygoda)
Miss Todd
 (Sound Designer Tom Lock Griffiths)
(Sound Designer Tingli Lim)
Sleeping With The Fishes
 (Sound Designer Nikola Medic)

Congratulations to all the students involved and their teams!

Pictured above: Sleeping With The Fishes, which is also nominated for Best Short Animation at the 2014 BAFTA Awards.

Book now to attend one of our OPEN DAYS for Sound Recording and Sound Design on March 7 and 27th

Record Oscar & BAFTA Year For NFTS Grads

13 graduates nominated for Oscars & Bafta awards – 114 grad credits on Oscar & Bafta nominated films

NFTS graduates are celebrating a record-breaking year with 13 nominations for Academy Awards and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards. This includes 3 out of the 5 films nominated for Best British Short.

At the 86th Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills this week, Roger Deakins was nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography for the film Prisoners - his 11th Nomination. And we have 36 graduate credits on 16 Oscar nominated films (see full list below), including Lee Thomas who is a producer on The Voorman Problem, which is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

Lee Thomas, who is also a tutor on the NFTS Producing MA course, said: “It's an amazing feeling to be involved with a short that has been nominated for an Oscar. It doesn't seem quite real yet, or possible! I am extremely proud and thrilled about our collaboration and the role I have played at important key turning points in the film's development, production and path to commercial exploitation. Even with a solid film education behind me from the NFTS, producing is a very tough and challenging game. It's moments like this that give us an amazing lift  and remind us why we slog away looking for stories that will ignite an audience's imagination and who knows, maybe garner some occasional recognition to help us along.''

Cinematography graduate Melissa Byers who was the Assistant 3D Stereographer on Gravity told the NFTS: "I'm thrilled to have worked on Gravity, which has been nominated for ten Oscars this year.  There are so many UK based technicians and creatives working on Oscar nominated films every year.  The professionalism and skillset of our crew, within the UK, is a testimony to the training available here. The NFTS provided me with top class facilities and an opportunity as a student to be creative in a supportive and challenging environment."

This announcement comes hot on the heels of a bonanza year at the BAFTAs with 12 NFTS graduates nominated for individual awards. We have 78 graduates involved on these 17 BAFTA nominated films: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Selfish Giant, Rush, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, For Those In Peril, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Phillips, Philomena, Despicable Me 2, Gravity, Keeping Up With The Jonses, Orbit Ever After, Room 8, Swimming With The Fishes, Saving Mr. Banks, The Invisible Woman.

And NFTS graduation films have received a record-breaking 6 out of 7 nominations in the internally acclaimed Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing from the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE). Read more here 

NFTS graduate Paul Kirby, who is the Production Designer on the Oscar and BAFTA nominated film Captain Phillips, praised the  training he received at the School: "The NFTS remains one of the richest seam of creative talent and ideas assembled under one roof. I envy new students starting their adventures there. I would willingly do it all again."

Graduates involved in Oscar nominated films:

Giacomo Matteucci (Digital Compositor)
Thomas Goodwin (Junior Draughtsman)
Melissa Byers (3D Previs Stereo Advisor)

Captain Phillips:
Paul Kirby (Production Designer)
Thomas Goodwin (Junior Draughtsman)
Niels Reedtz Johansen (2nd Unit DoP)
Sara Deane (2nd Unit Camera Operator)
Simon Chase (Supervising ADR Editor)
Jason Price (Assistant Sound Editor)
Kia Coates (Digital Compositor)
Tom Harrison-Read (First Assistant Editor)

Valerio Bonelli (Editor)
James Devlin (First Assistant Editor)
Jason Price (Sound Editor)
Michael Lee Taylor (Sound Assistant)

Despicable Me 2:
Claire Dodgson (Associate Editor)

Roger Deakins (Cinematographer)

The Invisible Woman:
Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decorator)
Marco Anton Restivo (Assistant Art Director)
Huw Arthur (Stand-by Art Director)
Rob Prynne (Foley Editor)
Michael Lee Taylor (Sound Assistant)

The Act of Killing:
Charlotte Munch Bengtsen (Editor)
Ariadna Fatjó-Vilas (Editor)

The Square:
Pierre Haberer (Supervising Editor)

The Hunt:
Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Cinematographer)

The Lone Ranger:
Dillan Nichols (Digital Compositor) CHECK

Saving Mr. Banks:
Will Field (Art Director – UK)

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom:
Roni Rodrigues (Digital Compositor)

Iron Man 3: 
Dean Koonjul (Digital Compositor)
Giacomo Matteucci (Digital Compositor)

Star Trek: Into Darkness:
Dean Koonjul (Digital Compositor)
Andy Quinn (Digital Compositor)

The Croods:
Roger Deakins ( Visual Consultant)
Sharon Coleman (Story Artist)

The Voorman Problem:
Lee Thomas (Producer and tutor at the NFTS)

For a full list of graduates involved in these BAFTA nominated films click here

The BAFTA winners will be announced at a ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on 16 February. The Oscars will be announced at the Academy Awards in L.A on Sunday, March 2.


Record Year for NFTS with 12 Graduates Nominated for Awards – 8 of them Recent Grads



NFTS graduates have received a record number of 12 nominations at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts – including nine recent graduates! This brings the total number of NFTS graduate nominations in the school's history to a fantastic 310.

We have 78 graduates involved on 17 BAFTA nominated films: Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Selfish Giant, Rush, We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, For Those In Peril, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Phillips, Philomena, Despicable Me 2, Gravity, Keeping Up With The Jonses, Orbit Ever After, Room 8, Swimming With The Fishes, Saving Mr. Banks, The Invisible Woman. 

NFTS animated films continue to attract accolades. Our 2013 graduation film ‘Sleeping With The Fishes’ is nominated in the Best Short Animation category. This is our 10th Nomination in this category. Abuelas (2011), Sap (2003). Lounge Act (2001), Blindscape (1994), Balloon (1992), A Grand Day Out (1990), The Hill Farm (1989), Rarg (1989), Dreamland Express (1983).

And 3 out of the 5 nominated British Short Films are directed by NFTS graduates!

The BAFTA nominees are:

Clio Barnard (British Film, The Selfish Giant)

Danny Hambrook (Sound, Rush)

James Walker (British Short Animation, Sleeping With The Fishes)

Sarah Woolner (British Short Animation, Sleeping With The Fishes)

Yousif Al-Khalifa (British Short Animation, Sleeping With The Fishes)

Michael Pearce (British Short Film, Keeping Up With The Joneses)

Megan Rubens (British Short Film, Keeping Up With The Joneses)

Jamie Stone (British Short Film, Orbit Ever After)

Len Rowles (British Short Film, Orbit Ever After)

James W. Griffiths (British Short Film, Room 8)

Paul Wright (Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer, For Those In Peril)

Polly Stokes (Debut by a British Writer, Director of Producer, For Those In Peril)

Of the 12 nominees, nine are first time nominees. Clio Barnard was previously nominated for Best Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for her film ‘The Arbor’ in 2011. Danny Hambrook has previously been nominated for his sound work on ‘Atonement’ and the television film ‘Red Riding 1974’. Paul Wright won Best Short Film for his 2010 graduation film ‘Until The River Runs Red’. He was previously nominated for his debut short film ‘Hikikomori’ in 2007.

NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “12 Nominations makes this the most successful year in the NFTS’ history at the BAFTA Film Awards. This is proving to be a fantastic start to 2014 with graduates involved in more box-office hit films than ever before. Congratulations to all involved.”

As of January 2014, the final world-wide box office total for films with NFTS graduation involvement was $9,093,717,882 – breaking last year’s record by over $1bn. NFTS graduates were involved in eight of the 10 highest grossing films of the year

Pictured are actors Luke Evans and Helen McCrory who announced the nominations at BAFTA today. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at London's Royal Opera House on 16 February.

Photo credit: BAFTA/Jamie Simonds

BFI Film Academy Screenwriters complete Weekend Retreat at NFTS

Apply by Feb 3rd for Easter Craft Residential

Six Screenwriters selected for the second BFI Film Academy have just completed an exciting Writers Weekend Retreat at the NFTS.

They were given support from NFTS Screenwriting tutor Brian Ward and six NFTS screenwriting MA graduates to develop their selected treatment into full short film scripts.

The weekend also included a master class with Writer Bola Agbaje and Director Destiny Ekaragha whose feature film ‘Gone Too Far’ premiered at the London Film Festival this year.

The six scripts will now be used as the basis for the films made by participants selected for the Craft Skills Residential held at the NFTS next Easter 2014. The two-week Easter residential will take place from 6-17 April 2014 at the NFTS and at Lane End Conference centre nearby in High Wycombe, with a pre-weekend residential of activities on 15 and 16 March at the same venues.

Click here to apply for the two week Easter residential in 2014. 

Participants aged 16-19 on last year’s course enjoyed entertaining Masterclasses with directors such as Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) who made his first films at the age of 13 and Director Eran Creevey (Shifty, Welcome to the Punch)– and had tutorials with Cinematographer Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot, Trainspotting) among many others.

They were also given training in production management, working with actors, cinematography, sound, film business as well as workshops with Producer Rebecca O’Brien (The Angels' Share, Spirit of 45), Production Design with Max Berman (Tinker Tailor..., Game of Thrones), Composition with Nathan Johnson (Brick, Looper). Participants also visited BAFTA, the BFI National Film Archive, the National Gallery and Pinewood Studios.

Their films were shown at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank followed by a networking opportunity with talent spotters from the film and television industry.

Here’s what some of the last year’s participants on the NFTS Craft Residential said about their experience:

Charley Packham: "Following my experience of the BFI/NFTS Residential, 'Cha Cha Cha' the film I co-produced as part of this, was selected for screening at The British Urban Film Festival and Portobello Film Festival, which were both incredible to attend. This Summer the BFI alumni officer secured me a work placement with 'September Films' where I was involved in developing programmes for BBC and ITV and was asked back after my placement ended in a paid position staging a run-through for the ITV daytime commissioner at ITV studios in London. I am currently working with production company White Lantern to launch a BFI regional academy in Bournemouth where I study Television Production at University and am in early pre-production stages as producer for a short film based on a Michael Morpurgo short story. I now also work freelance for The Smalls after an internship this summer.

“The NFTS residential course did not just help to get my 'foot in the door' of the film industry, but kicked it right open, and it is so true. Ever since the residential finished, I have been working non-stop on a number of projects with a number of fellow BFI/NFTS alumni, with a new-found confidence and determination to succeed. I could not recommend the experience highly enough, I have learnt so much and made contacts and friends for life."

Suzanne Pearson: “The NFTS Craft Residential changed my entire perspective of what I want to do in life, it showed me that the film industry is something possible to go into, you just need to constantly push yourself. It made me more confident and taught me that no matter which background you come from, as long as you try hard enough and are truly determined to work in film, it is possible.”

Caitlin Pinner: “There was something electric about having so many determined, like-minded and inspiring people in one place for two weeks. I've just finished marketing a Polish/Australian film here in Melbourne where I'm completing my final year of University. When I return to London in June I will be working with the creative team at 'The Connected Set 'on their new, online news platform, 'MASHED' for Channel 4.”

Alfie Barker: “The NFTS campus has taught me so much, about both life and film. It's given me confidence, enabling me to approach people in the industry as well as expanding my contacts. Since graduating from the NFTS, I have been able to get work experience shadowing the director on the BBC Drama THE ARC and shadow departments on Thomas Vinterberg's next feature film. I've been able to get funding for my next short film, working with the same people from the Residential - I want to go on it again!”

Mdhamiri a Nkemi: “The NFTS residential filmmaking course …took my love of filmmaking, my ambition in getting a career in the film industry (specifically film-editing), and gave me the practical experience, industry contacts, and self-confidence I needed to take a big step in the right direction. Since the course, I've become a Ravensbourne university student studying Editing and Post-production, a paid freelance editor, as well as getting post-production experience on quite high profile projects.”

Jack Newton: “NFTS BFI film academy was unique and incredible experience. It provided me the opportunity to meet other like minded film makers from across the country and learn skills, techniques and helpful tips from leading industry professionals. “Since completing the film academy at NFTS, I have been working freelance as an editor on corporate and short film projects and have recently been logging footage for a new 6 part TV documentary series. “I hope one day to become an editor and work on both feature films and TV and the film academy gave me the platform to progress in the industry.”

NFTS Dominates nominations at the London Film Critics Circle Awards

And Cinematographer Roger Deakins is nominated at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards

NFTS graduates have dominated nominations at the London Film Critics Circle Awards this week.

Recent graduate Paul Wright has been nominated for Breakthrough Director for his first feature film For Those In Peril and 35 graduates are involved in 14 films/ performances nominated for awards including graduate Clio Bernard’s film The Selfish Giant, which is nominated for British Film of The Year.

Other graduates include Production Designer Paul Kirby and two other graduates who worked on Paul Greengrass’ nominated film Captain Phillips. Four other graduates also worked on Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, including Editor Nick Fenton, Re-recording Mixer Martin Jensen. And Editor Valerio Bonelli, along with five other graduates, worked on nominated film Philomena.

Valerio Bonelli recently paid homage to the NFTS saying: “The NFTS is an inspiring place for any young filmmaker that wants to prove and improve his skills. You get to meet passionate and competitive students and get to work on a wide range of different projects. I can't even imagine where I would be now if I hadn't gone to NFTS.”

The London Critics' Circle Film Awards are voted for by the UK’s longest standing and most prestigious critical organisation, which boasts 140 members who between them see every one of the hundreds of films released in the UK each year.

The other nominated films with graduate involvement are:

Gravity (three graduates)

Saving Mr Banks (one graduate)

Mandela: London Walk to Freedom (graduate),

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (graduate)

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (one graduate)

The Counselor (three graduates involved including Art Director Tom Weaving)

Welcome To The Punch (three graduates)

Byzantium (three graduates)

About Time (one graduate)

The Look of Love (one graduate)

Well done to all of the graduates. The Awards are announced on February 2, 2014.

'Gravity' Director Alfonso Cuar‪ón gives Masterclass to NFTS Students

Inspiration behind his latest film revealed

Alfonso Cuar‪ón, the double BAFTA winning and triple Oscar nominated director, writer, editor and producer (whose work includes Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) gave a masterclass yesterday to NFTS students following a screening of his latest 3D sensation Gravity.‬‬‬‬

Gravity – a sci-fi thriller set in space which was written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman (the “Harry Potter” films) and executive produced by Chris deFaria, Nikki Penny and Stephen Jones, has taken US dollars 632 million worldwide so far at the box office and received critical acclaim from press and audiences alike.

Speaking at the Warner Bros HQ in London in conversation with top commercials director Dougal Wilson, Cuar‪ón said that he and his son Jonás had wanted to tell a story about triumph over adversity and set it in space because of the opportunities to use visual metaphors: “The idea for the film had started with a visual image of astronauts floating in space. We knew we wanted there to be a rollercoaster ride sustained by emotion that was linked to thematic elements such as isolation and we wanted there to be an existential resonance to the journey the characters undertake. But I was also inspired by my grandmother who bought a TV just so we could watch Neil Armstrong land on the moon – I watched it live! I’ve always been fascinated by that.”‬‬‬

The film focuses on the journey of a woman (Sandra Bullock) who plays a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission in space with a veteran astronaut (George Clooney). When debris from another satellite hits them, their shuttle is destroyed leaving them spiraling out of control and stranded in space. As she orbits at 600km above the planet, her survival becomes dependent on breaking out of the cyclical pattern of her emotional isolation in order to connect with others and return to Earth.

“Adversity is cyclical. We are victims of our own inertia; we tend to go back to again and again into them. How do you break that cycle? That interests me,” explained Cuar‪ón.‬‬‬

When asked how long it took to write a screenplay, Cuar‪ón replied: “My experience of screenplay writing is that it can either take you 3-5 years….or one month. I chose the one month route! If I’m not clear about the story then I just put it in a drawer until one day it makes sense and I can suddenly write.”‬‬‬

Cuar‪ón said choosing to focus on one person’s emotional and metaphorical journey had been inspired by two films: Steven Spielberg’s Duel (starring Dennis Hopper who plays a terrified motorist stalked on a remote and lonely road by the mostly unseen driver of a mysterious tanker truck) and Robert Bresson’s suspenseful jailbreak film A Man Escaped that follows a French Resistance fighter’s single-minded pursuit of freedom, detailing the planning and execution of his escape with gripping precision.‬‬‬

“Both of these films are about one person’s journey. When you are confronted by adversity it takes you out of your comfort zone and you lose ground and start to drift into a void. You become isolated in your own bubble, cut off from others. I sometimes feel like that! I wanted to realise that metaphor in Gravity.”

Created through a painstaking combination of physical and digital performance that disintegrates the divide between live action and animation, Gravity has been applauded for presenting the future face of 3D cinema. But Cuar‪ón‬ admits the production hadn’t always gone to plan: “When I finished the screenplay, I sent a copy to the DoP to ask if he wanted to do this small thing with me. I thought it would maybe take a year. At that time I was just a conventional writer and imagined we could film it using conventional rigs and stunts. I was committed to making it look photo realistic rather than fantasy or cartoon like. Just three hours into testing the rig I realised that I’d been a bit naïve; I thohght it would be a lot simpler.” ‬‬‬

The behind-the-scenes team includes multiple Oscar®-nominated director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, The New World); production designer Andy Nicholson (art director Alice in Wonderland); editors Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger (VFX editor Children of Men); and costume designer Jany Temime (the Harry Potter films). The visual effects were handled by Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Webber (The Dark Knight). The music was composed by Steven Price (Attack the Block).

More than four years later, after various technical evolutions and a Eureka moment while watching the LED light show at a Peter Gabriel concert, they developed a 12 wire rig, operated by puppeteers from War Horse, set inside a cube called a ‘Light Box’ conceived by Lubezki and Webber to recreate the image of natural light and zero gravity. Resembling a hollow cube, its interior walls were made up of large, flat panels, each fitted with thousands of tiny LED lights. As its name suggests, the purpose of the Light Box was to cast the appropriate illumination on the character, even when spinning uncontrollably through space. What is revolutionary is that instead of spinning the actor within the scene, they spin the walls of the cube.

“There’s a point in the film when Sandra Bullock is spinning around in space and you see the Earth, stars, everything spinning in the reflection in her eye. That’s because it really was spinning around her,” adds Cuar‪ón.‬‬‬

Asked when he first decided to make the film in 3D, he replied: “Four years ago when 3D was still cool! Actually, I had always been inspired by Lumiere who first experimented with 3D in 1898. He had always intended cinema to be in 3D but it was abandoned because it was too expensive. What I love about 3D is the sense of depth. The journey in film should be how you look with your two eyes.”

For many scenes, the actors were secured onto specialized rigs that could rotate or tilt them at different angles. Cuarón and Lubezki were able to take advantage of more extreme angles with cameras mounted on giant computer-controlled robot arms, the type used in automobile manufacturing. The actors took months to physically prepare for the film, especially Sandra Bullock whose performance Cuar‪ón compares to that of a ballet dancer. “To create the appearance of zero gravity and to interact with virtual prop in a CG set, she had to choreograph each move so that each gesture of her hand and body was precise. She was amazing.”‬‬‬

Filming involved hours of preparation to set up each shot. During this time, Sandra Bullock chose to stay in the rig. Asked how Cuar‪ón‬ had managed to keep the actors in their performance while surrounded by so much technology, he replied: “I gave Sandra some weird music that we’d been listening to while we were writing the screenplay. Then I’d discuss each scene with Sandra and she’d select a piece of that music and listen to this as an emotional reference for her performance.”‬‬‬

Despite the interest in the film’s technical achievements, Cuar‪ón insists that this is a human story: “Amidst all the tools and effects, we were always clear that her struggle is a metaphor for anyone who has to overcome adversity in life and get to the other side. It is a journey of rebirth.”‬‬‬

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents an Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films Production, an Alfonso Cuarón Film, Gravity.  

Seasonal Greetings from the NFTS

12 Top Achievements in 2013

2013 has been yet another incredible year for the NFTS, which couldn’t have been achieved without your support. To spread seasonal cheer in the run up to the 12 days of Christmas we’ve listed some of this year's highlights.

We don’t have a partridge in a pear tree but we do have…

12. Million pounds being raised to build the NFTS Digital Village phase 2 (we’re already well under way with £5m funding from the Government and £2.1m pledged by Creative Skillset/BFI).
11. Television BAFTA Nominations AND 11 Kodak Commercial Awards including Best Overall Commercial
10. Oscar and BAFTA nominations AND our 10th Student Golden Reel Awards for Sound
9. Billion dollars gross taken at the world-wide box office for films involving NFTS graduates
8. Top Sci Fi & Fantasy speakers at the NFTS Fantasy Day hosted by Channel 4 including from Dr Who James Moran & Orchestrator Ben Foster (NFTS Grad), from Monsters 2 Director Tom Green (NFTS Grad) & Producer Allan Niblo (NFTS grad) and Merlin Director Jeremy Webb

7. Graduates involved in making Paul Greengrass’ film Captain Phillips (Production Designer Paul Kirby; Junior Draughtsman Thomas Goodwin; 2nd Unit DoP Niels Reedtz Johansen; Supervising ADR Editor Simon Chase; Assistant Sound Editor Jason Price; Digital Compositor Kia Coates; 1st Assistant Editor Tom Harrison-Read)

6th Student Academy Award (for 2013 animated grad film Miss Todd - the first animation ever to win the Student Oscar for Honorary Foreign Film)

5. films directed by NFTS graduates in competition at 2013 Cannes Film Festival Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo, which won the Camera d’Or for Best First feature Film, Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril, Clio Bernard’s The Selfish Giant, which won the Europa Cinemas award, Lynne Ramsay’s Swimmer, NFTS 2013 grad film The Magnificent Lion. AND announced our 5th Gala to be held on June 18 2014 as the The Great British Film, Television & Games Event – Striving for Diversity Nirvana. To find out how to book your table go here
4. Golden Horse Awards (for 2010 graduate Anthony Chen’s Ilo Ilo) – Asia’s equivalent of the Oscars AND 4 industry partners for 5 new courses : Sky TV (Broadcast Production and Digital Content & Formats diplomas), Aardman Animation (Certificate in Character Animation), Discovery (Diploma in Producing Factual Entertainment), Channel 4 (Writing and Producing Comedy)
3. Grierson Documentary Awards (including NFTS graduation film Sodiq) AND 3 BIFAs including Best Short Film for graduation film Z1 and best debut for 2010 graduate Paul Wright's film For Those in Peril AND all 3 awards from CILECT (the international association of film and television schools) for NFTS films Head Over Heels, After and Mass of Men).
2. Scottish BAFTAs (2010 graduate Paul Wright’s For Those in PerilAND 2 New York TV Festival awards (graduation TV show Anything You Can Do, created by Omar Kenawi and Martina Kabelkova won the Unscripted Pilot Award and graduation TV show the Situation Comedy Killer Moves, created by Ben Hillyar, Tim Partridge and David Mayes (non-NFTS), won the Festival Critics Award).
1 +20 Masterclasses with top name producers and directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Paul Greengrass, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Wim Wenders, Edgar Wright, Sherlock and Dr Who writer Steven Moffatt and producer Sue Vertue PLUS 1 Producing & Directing TV Entertainment programme TX on Channel 51 Emmy Nomination; 1 CBE Roger Deakins; 1 Best Student Film nomination at the ANNIE animation awards for the second year running (the only film from the UK) and of course yet another Oscar nomination for a NFTS graduation Film Head over Heels!

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year from every one at the NFTS!

Three major British film awards for NFTS graduates

School scoops Best British Short Film Award at BIFAs

NFTS graduates have won three major prizes at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) with the School scooping Best Short Film.

Director Gabriel Gauchet, (pictured above right) who graduated from the NFTS earlier this year, took Best British Short Film for his graduation film Z1. Recent graduate director Paul Wright won the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Director for his first feature film For Those in Peril. And graduate Clio Barnard’s film The Selfish Giant took home the prize for Best Technical Achievement, with Amy Hubbard recognised for casting the film.

Congratulations to Gabriel, Paul, Clio and their teams who included many NFTS graduates.

The awards were announced at glamorous ceremony hosted for the eighth time by actor James Nesbitt at London’s Old Billingsgate.

Created in 1998 by Raindance founder Elliot Grove, the British Independent Film Awards set out to celebrate merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking, to honour new talent, and to promote British filmmaking and British talent to a wider public.

NFTS graduates involved in these three winning films are:

The Selfish Giant

Director Clio Barnard
Editor Nick Fenton
Rerecording Mixer Martin Jensen
Development Editor Jamie Wolpert.

For Those in Peril

Director Paul Wright
Producer Polly Stokes
DoP Benjamin Kracun
Editor Michael Aaglund
Additional Sound Effects Recordist Dario Swade


Director Gabriel Gauchet
Producer Suzanne Mayger
DoP Charlie Goodger
Designer Isona Rigau
Production Manager Suzie Frize-Williams
Editor Alice Petit
VFX Supervisors Chang Liu & Kathleen Squire
SFX Artist Philip Chapman
Sound Recordist Michael Sinden
Boom Operators Thomas Markwick, Matthew Forrester & Amée Simpson
Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Raoul Brand
Composer Alex Harwood
Online Editor/Grade Chang Liu

Graduates were also involved in a further nine other nominated films:

Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England (Anna Higgs Executive Producer); Jonah (shot by Chloë Thomson with Jens Rosenlund Petersen as Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor); Dr. Easy (Executive Producer Anna Higgs, Line Producer Jessica Levick, Sound Mixer Tarn Willers, Consultant Editor Nick Fenton); Philomena (Editor Valerio Bonelli, First Assistant Editor James Devlin, Sound Editor Jason Price and Sound Assistant Michael Lee Taylor); The Great Hip Hop Hoax (Executive Producer Jonny Persey); The Moo Man (Composer Stephen Daltry); Everyone’s Going to Die (DoP Daniel Stafford-Clark; Supervising Production Designer Kristine Maj De Neergaard); The Machine (Dialogue Editor Ian Morgan); Titus (Supervising Sound Editor James J Morgan; Rerecording Mixer Steve Bond; Production Accountant Louise Malin) and The Patrol (DoP Stuart Bentley).