Private tour of Kenneth Branagh's film 'Cinderella'

Year one students on the NFTS’ Production Design MA course have recently returned from an inspiring visit to Pinewood Studios where they were given a personal tour of the sets on Kenneth Branagh’s new film ‘Cinderella’.

The eight students also got to see the sculpture works department, viewed esteemed Production Designer Dante Ferretti’s set drawings and met the Supervising Art director and NFTS graduate Isona Rigau Heras who is working as the Art Department Assistant on the film.

Year one Production Design student Daniel Warren said the visit was inspiring: “It was fascinating to see how the film was made and to see all the creative effort put into the sets. It was especially inspiring to see Dante Ferretti’s drawings and to meet Isona; it made the possibility of working on a film at Pinewood seem achievable.”

Fine Art BA graduate Daniel decided to turn his hand to production design after visiting the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesdon: “It was the first time I’d seen concept drawings, set models and then the scale model of Hogwarts. I thought ‘why am I not doing this? This is what I want to do!’”

Other recent NFTS Art Department alumni working at Pinewood include Alexandra Toomey, John Merry. Four NFTS Production Design graduates worked on the Oscar and BAFTA-winning film Les Miserables (Art Director Gary Jopling, Assistant Art director Jane Harwood, Junior Draughtsmen Sophie Neil and Patrick Harris).


Scholarships and bursaries are available for the Production Design course. On a previous visit they got to see the sets for ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’ and ‘Prometheus’ - where students met Production Designer Arthur Max. NFTS Head of Production Design Caroline Amies said: “These set visits are great opportunities for students to see what it is like to work on a real film set and make the contacts that they need to get work in the industry.” The NFTS a has a tremendous track-record for graduates getting work, which is in part due to the fact that the tutors are all still working in the industry and are able to secure work experience placements for many students over the summer on TV shows and feature films such as Harry Potter, Dark Shadows, Les Miserables; Skyfall and Call the Midwife.

Picture: 1st year Production Design student working in the Production Design base at the NFTS



Congratulations to NFTS 2013 Directing Documentary graduate Marc Williamson, 2011 Producing graduate Emma Lamont and their team whose film Boys has won the Student Documentary Award at the 20th Sheffield Doc Fest - the UK's premiere documentary and digital media festival.

This is the third time the NFTS has won this award at the Sheffield Docs Fest in the past four years. Boys has also been selected for the Open City Docs Fest, in London this week.

Student Award Jury spokesperson Kate Townsend, who is executive producer for BBC Four's flagship international documentary strand Storyville, said: “The student competition showed an impressive range in subject and approach. But this particular documentary stood out for two components key to a documentary – remarkable access and sensitivity of approach. Boys is an observational film which follows the struggles of two pupils over a term in a boarding school for boys with emotional and behavioural disorders.

“There are no interviews in the film and the director shows an impressive ability to shape his self-shot footage to pursue the narrative of the boys’ slow progress and the challenges of the staff who try to help them. What emerges is a powerful film, which unpeels layers of destructive behaviour to show the vulnerable children beneath. So for grasp of its material, for some gut wrenchingly memorable scenes and deep humanity, this year’s student award goes to director Marc Williamson and producer Emma Lamont for Boys.” 

Kate Townsend also announced that Channel 4 has commissioned a new version of the documentary to be broadcast on the ‘First Cut’ strand. Marc was presented with the award by Jeremy Hardy at the festival closing on Sunday June 16.

Marc Williamson said he and the team were delighted to win the award, adding: “It was a privilege to make this film and even more so to be able to share the devoted and challenging work that Muntham House School does and to highlight the moving and ultimately uplifting journeys the boys go on.”

He added: “We are currently shooting a second film at Muntham House for Channel 4's 'First Cut' strand, which is being Produced by Emma Lamont (NFTS Producing Graduate) and Exec Produced by Minnow Films. We are incredibly grateful to Lina Prestwood for commissioning the film and for the chance to reach a wider audience.”

NFTS Head of Documentaries, Dick Fontaine said: “Congratulations to Marc, Emma and the whole NFTS team. They managed in a short time to gain access and trust and to structure a film which any semi professional would be proud of.”

The NFTS crew who worked on Boys are as follows: Director/Producer/DoP Marc Williamson; Production Manager Georgia Orwell; Sound Recordist Amee Simpson; Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Peter Warnock; Editor Johannes Bock; Composer Finn McNicholas; Online Editor/Grade Ruochen Wang; Producer Emma Lamont.

The Student Doc Jury members included: Dr. Ian Dodgeon The Wellcome Trust; Seb Feehan Next Door Films; Jing Hasse Nordisk Panorama; Cinza Spironello Some Like it Short and Kate Townsend.

Boys was competing against other films including another NFTS documentary – Sodiq – by Director Adeyemi Michael.  Sodiq is also showing at the Open City Docs Festival this week in London.

The NFTS previously won this award in 2012 with the documentary The Betrayal and in 2010 with No Easy Time.

Pictured are Heather Croall Director CEO of Doc/Fest with NFTS Directing Documentary graduate Marc Williamson and and Hussain Currimbhoy Doc Fest Programmer.

Credit: photographer Jacqui Bellamy, Pixelwitch

‘Miss Todd’ wins student Academy Award + makes history

1st time an animated film has won international prize

The NFTS student film ‘Miss Todd’ has just won gold in the foreign section of the Student Academy Awards – the first time in the Awards’ 33 year history that an animation has won in this category – beating off competition from film schools across the world.

Directed by Kristina Yee, co-written by Frances Poletti and produced by Suzanne Mayger, Miss Todd is an innovative stop-frame animated musical using paper puppets in a story about a pioneering American female pilot.

Sixteen students from colleges and universities around the world were honored on Saturday (June 8) as winners at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 40th Student Academy Awards held at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Bob Saget, a Student Academy Award winner himself in 1978, revealed the gold, silver and bronze medal placements awarded to the honorees. Writer-director Kimberly Peirce and actors Clark Gregg, Jason Schwartzman and Quvenzhané Wallis presented the awards.

Director Kristina Yee said: "I feel so honoured to be a gold medalist. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the NFTS, which is such as wonderful creatively nourishing place to study. I always felt such strong support at every turn. It's an institute that encourages you to push yourself and the boundaries of what you think is possible. To my team I owe everything. They are not only amazingly talented, but have real and rare attributes that are invaluable in the industry, like their unflagging dedication, collaborative spirit, and endless ingenuity. Team Todd is amazing.”

This is the School’s 6th Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Student Academy Award foreign film prize – more than any other film school. Our Animation department is one of the most successful in the world. Among the many accolades received this year alone, the NFTS is the only film school to receive an Oscar nomination (Head Over Heels); the first film school to win the 'Best Student Film' award at the Annies (Head Over Heels) and the only UK film school with a film in Cinefondation at the Cannes Film Festival.

NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “This shows yet again that the NFTS' culture of putting together teams of the brightest students, taught by teams of the best tutors, with great stories and adventurous filmmaking results in terrific award-winning films like Miss Todd.”

Nine members of the Miss Todd NFTS team flew over to Los Angeles before the Academy Awards and were given tours of the main studios including visits to Walt Disney Animation Studios where they met Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) and John Kahrs (Paperman). They also met Cinematographer Dean Cundey ASC (Jurassic Park, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Hook).

NFTS Head of Animation Helen Nabarro said: “We are absolutely thrilled for Kristina and her team who worked tirelessly on this innovative film – we haven’t made an animated musical before so this was a first. We are very lucky at the NFTS to have such creative and hard-working students and dedicated tutors.”

Don’t miss your chance to join this multi-award-winning department. Apply by June 21 for the 12-week Certificate in Character Animation run with Aardman Animation at their Bristol studios. Apply by July 11 to join our award-winning Directing Animation MA two-year course run at the NFTS. Scholarships and bursaries are available for our MA courses.

Miss Todd is a character based on a real historical figure, the first female aeronautical engineer, and one who has largely been lost in history, adds Kristina Yee. “She was absolutely amazing and struggled against the standards of her time, as people continue to do today. She is worthy of a story, and deserving of a voice, which we literally give her in the musical medium of the film. I hope she serves as an inspiration to anyone who struggles to achieve their dreams. I'm so delighted to have this recognition from the Academy. I hope that this is the beginning of great things for Miss Todd!"

The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards. The roster includes such filmmakers as John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee.

Watch the trailer on the NFTS’s website Screening Room.

Miss Todd Cast: Lucie Jones

Miss Todd Filmmakers: Kristina Yee Director/Co-Writer; Suzanne Mayger Producer; Frances Poletti Co-Writer; Nick Cooke Cinematographer; Isona Rigau Production Designer; Michele Chiappa Editor; Georgia Orwell Production Manager; Philip Chapman SFX SFX/VFX; Kam Baines VFX, Online Editor and Colour Grader; Tom Lock Griffiths Sound Designer and Dubbing Mixer; Matt Kelly Composer. 

Pictured: Kristina Yee (Bottom row, second from right) with fellow Academy Award winners at the Student Academy Awards held on 8th June 2013 in Beverley Hills, California. 

'Brick' and 'Looper' Writer/Director Rian Johnson gives Masterclass

From Cult Indie Film to Blockbuster Smash

Rian Johnson, the award-winning writer/director/editor whose debut cult film Brick (2005) won a Sundance award gave an inspiring Masterclass talk to NFTS students with his cousin the Composer Nathan Johnson.

Rian said he wrote Brick straight out of film school at the age of 23 and started shooting the film the day before his 30th birthday as “…a labour of love.”

He struggled to raise the finance for the film and kept the roof over his head by editing promos: “… it’s the hardest thing in the world to get someone to write a cheque to make a movie. But I had all those years to figure out how to be a human being,” said Rian who was in conversation with Dr Jonathan Wardle, the NFTS’ Director of Curriculum and Registrar.

Eventually his own family stumped up the initial $200k investment in Brick, which cost a total $450k to make and his cousin Nathan composed the music for the film in which every character had his own musical theme, like Prokofiev’s Peter & The Wolf.

Rian revealed that he wasn’t able to film coverage, which led to an unintentional jump-cut style of editing. “Coverage? I didn’t have any! A lot of times it looks like it’s a stylistic choice, but in fact I just didn’t have a choice. Making that film was a real learning curve.”

The film was critically acclaimed as being "…a smart, original neo-noir that works as an ingenious mind-game as well as a slick Hollywood calling card." It won him the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision and opened doors to help make his next major film The Brothers Bloom (2009) - a con-man story starring Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kikuchi and Robbie Coltrane.

“It was a cult indie film so Hollywood didn’t come knocking on my door after Sundance” but it did mean that for The Brothers Bloom he was able to attract bigger name actors and work with a professional editor for the first time. “I was used to writing, directing and editing so it was a new experience for me working with an editor. I learned a lot but I think the editor deserves an apology; I found it difficult to hold back!”

A character-based con-man film with an emotional payoff, Rian told NFTS students, “I find it much more interesting for the punch at the end of the movie to be emotional rather than plot driven. It’s more important that it’s your heart driving it than your head.”

One critic said of the film: “If Wes Anderson and Terry Gilliam ever had a child, science would be amazed and appalled. But also, it would probably end up making a film like this."

Five years after his first film, Rian got to make the Sci-Fi blockbuster Looper (2012) that gave him the chance to work with A list stars such as Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Joseph Gordon-Levitt who he’d first worked before on Brick.

Looper was a huge hit praised as, "Intelligent, extremely imaginative, visually stunning and constantly surprising, this is filmmaking of the highest order from Rian Johnson." Rian explained how he’d written the treatment for Looper as a short film back when he was waiting to make Brick. “The opening of the feature and most of the ending is almost verbatim from that treatment,” he disclosed.

While film critics and fans debated the value of time-travel and whether they would ‘…go back in time to kill Hitler” or not, for Rian the film was, “…about the feeling of reacting to something you’re angry about, the primeval instinct to inflict violence as a response & the fact that’s not really healthy. The film is about violence vs. nurturing.”

His cousin Nathan Johnson has composed the music for all of Rian’s films and revealed that he often spends time on set getting to know the characters beforehand. His creative partnership with Rian started when the two were children and has continued throughout their professional lives.

Beginning with the critically acclaimed score for their first feature collaboration, Brick, Nathan said he used and abused a variety of household implements including dinner settings, filing cabinets, cheese graters, and radiators. Real instruments such as pianos were bolted and tacked, double basses were beaten with mallets, and tuned wine glasses were re-purposed in place of a string section.

Rian has recently directed two episodes of the cult American TV series Breaking Bad, the first time he directed something he hadn’t written. With only one week to prep and one week to shoot, he said, “There’s no time for any bullshit, you just have to do it. It’s really fun.”

Asked whether he’d direct any other TV shows, Rian - self-confessed Sci Fi fan – admitted he’s, “…a big Game of Thrones fan & would love to do an episode of Dr Who.”

Production design STUDENTS team up with Digital Effects to SHOOT SPACE FILM USING MOTION CONTROL

Apply for course before the July 11 deadline

Production Design students have teamed up with Year 2 Digital Effects students to create a stunning short space film as part of SFX/VFX MA workshop. The project, titled 'Terminus,' tells the story of a sleeper in a space probe being unexpectedly woken on her journey through the universe.

Directed by Oli Nedwell and produced by Chris Chidlow, the production design students designed a model space set, with a miniature model spaceship and shot the short story using a motion control camera.

Following a day spent at Mark Roberts Motion Control learning about the different kinds of camera rigs, they then spent 5 weeks at Leigh Took's workshop at Bray Studios building the miniature and the model sets. Meanwhile an NFTS Production Design student built a life-size set of the inside of the space ship for the actor. They then spent two days shooting on the TV Stage with a Talos Motion Control Rig with an Arri Alexa camera. 

Pictured is the actor inside the model space ship and the crew (including industry model-maker and art director, John Lee) with the Production Designer’s Pod.

Places are still available on the Production Design course if you apply before the July 11 deadline

This course has a great track record for graduates working in senior roles in the film and television industry. Production Designers Tom Conroy (TheTudors, Breakfast on Pluto, Titanic, Blood and Steel and Camelot)Dennis De Groot (The IT Crowd and Little Britain); Art Director Steven Lawrence (W.E., Casino Royale and The Dark Knight); Paul Kirby (Green Zone, The Brothers Bloom, Love in the Time of Cholera); Art Director Gary Jopling, Assistant Art Director Jane Harwood, Junior draughtsman Sophie Neil and Patrick Harris who all worked on Les Miserables.


NFTS graduate wins Camera d'Or at Cannes

Clio Barnard wins Europa Cinemas Label; 4 stars for ‘For Those in Peril’; roar of applause for Magnificent Lion Boy

NFTS 2010 graduate Anthony Chen has won the coveted Camera d'Or at Cannes - the most prestigious award for a first feature film director - with his feature Ilo Ilo.

Anthony is the first ever Singaporean to win this prize, which was presented in Cannes by actress Chinese star Xhang Ziyi and acclaimed French director Agnes Varda.

The film, shown in Directors Fortnight ( La Quinzaine), follows a family coping with the fallout of financial crisis and drew upon the director's own personal childhood experiences. 

Speaking at the awards ceremony, an over-awed Anthony Chen said humbly: "It is a dream for a first film to get this much support and encouragement...What really heartens me is that a story about an ordinary family in Singapore can touch the hearts of audiences miles away. It is a great honour to receive this award from the hands of one of cinemas' greatest directors and one of its greatest actresses."

The crew included NFTS graduates Benoit Soler (Dop), Hoping Chen ( Editor), and Zhe Wu (Sound Designer/ Sound Editor/ Dubbing Mixer).
Anthony Chen added: "I'd like to thank the incredible team who worked on this film for three years."

Nik Powell, NFTS Director said: "Ilo Ilo is a stunning achievement, a film of great emotional power. Congratulations to Anthony and to the other key NFTS alumni."

Lynda Myles, NFTS Head of Directing Fiction, said: "I am thrilled to hear the news about the award of the Camera d'Or to Anthony Chen for Ilo Ilo. He joins a very distinguished list of past winners, including Jim Jarmusch and Steve McQueen."

The film was given a standing ovation from the 800-strong crowd when it was shown during Director’s Fortnight and organisers had to ask people to stop because they had to prepare for the next screening!

Anthony added: "When the film stopped, it was in the middle of the birthday scene with the characters singing Happy Birthday. Yet the audience continued to sing Happy Birthday and it showed how invested they were in the film. No one walked out and we had a standing ovation at the end. I was so moved that both the audience and actors teared up, because it showed me they understood the film.”

Praised by Screen Daily as a film that “…could enjoy worldwide theatrical attention when one considers that, although the movie is set in Singapore, the issues at play are universal," Ilo Ilo has attracted so much interest, it was even mentioned on Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook page. There was success also for Clio Barnard, a graduate of the NFTS’ advanced course, who won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European film in the Director's Fortnight section for her film The Selfish Giant. Her film will now receive the support of the Europa Cinemas Network, with additional promotion and incentives for exhibitors to extend the film’s run on screen.

Clio has been hailed by Charlotte Higgins in The Guardian as a significant new voice in British cinema; Variety critic Guy Lodge says the “film should elevate Barnard to the bracket of streetwise femme compatriots Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay,” and the Telegraph’s critic Robbie Collin gives the film 5 stars saying: “So hauntingly perfect is Barnard’s film, and so skin-pricklingly alive does it make you feel to watch it, that at first you can hardly believe the sum of what you have seen: the astonishingly strong performances from her two young, untutored leads; Barnard’s layered script; Mike Eley’s snow-crisp cinematography that makes the streets of Bradford shine.”

2010 NFTS graduate Paul Wright’s debut feature film For Those in Peril, also made waves following its screening in Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film tells the story of Aaron, who has returned to his remote fishing village following a tragic expedition from which he was the only survivor. Aaron, played by George MacKay, has to deal with survivor’s guilt, and the small religious and superstitious community turning against him. It is produced by Warp X with backing from Creative Scotland, the BFI, Film4 and Screen Yorkshire.

Robbie Collin in the Telegraph gives the film 4 out of 5 stars and says: “The film’s young cast are terrifyingly good: George MacKay ... is simply heartbreaking in a performance that leaves you feeling like your own soul has been peeled.” 

Variety’s Charles Gant describes the film as, “a visually arresting poetic reverie that should strike a chord with adventurous audiences who don't mind mood over matter.”

Paul is also interviewed by Nick Clark in the Independent, by Screen International’s Editor Wendy Mitchell and by The Guardian’s Henry Barnes for their Film Talk strand.

Paul is an NFTS Directing Fiction graduate and was a 2007 Screen International Star of Tomorrow. His acclaimed shorts include Believe and the BAFTA winner Until The River Runs Red. He is in the early stages of writing his next project.

The NFTS’ 2013 graduate film The Magnificent Lion Boy (Directed by Ana Caro and Produced by James Cotton) was shown in the Cinéfondation section at Cannes – the only film from a UK film school. It received a roar of applause from the packed audience that included Jane Campion the Head of the Jury for Cinéfondation.

Speaking after the screening, Director Ana Caro said: "It was very exciting to present the film to both the public and the jury members at Cannes, including Jane Campion, who is inspiring to me."

Producer James Cotton added: "The response from the audience was fantastic. Already, we can see that this film is something special; making people laugh and cry. It's quite a trick to pull that off, and Ana is a genius at achieving it."

This film has also received rave reviews with one critic calling it the highlight of the Cinfondation section.

 Lynne Ramsay’s BAFTA winning film Swimmer was in the Directors' Fortnight short film section and she is on the Cannes Film Festival Jury that will choose the winner of the coveted Palme d'Or. There was also a Special Screening of Director Stephen Frears’ Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, which was written by Shawn Slovo.

These films were all supported by a talented crew that included many graduates from the NFTS:

For Those in Peril- Producer Polly Stokes; DoP Benjamin Kracun; Editor Michael Aaglund; Additional Sound Effects Recordist Dario Swade Ilo Ilo - DoP Benoit

Soler Last Days on Mars - Editor Peter Lambert; Art Director Steve Lawrence; 

The Magnificent Lion Boy (NFTS) - Writer Jonathan Carr; DoP Alfie Biddle; Production Designer Natasha Mackey; Editor Paulo Pandolpho; Production Manager Natalie Langowski; Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Ania Przygoda;VFX Supervisor/Online Editor/Grade Jason Evans; Composer Sarah Warne; CGI Pre-visualisation James Miller & Jack Whinnett

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight - Writer Shawn Slovo

The Selfish Giant - Editor Nick Fenton; Rerecording Mixer Martin Jensen; Development Editor Jamie Wolpert

Swimmer - DoP Natasha Braier; Production Designers Jane Morton & Kiera Tudway; Art Director Kristine Maj De Neergaard; Sound Designer Paul Davies; Production Assistant Emily Morgan.

If you’d like to join our award-winning alumni, there are still places left on these NFTS MA courses: Sound Design for Film and Television; Sound Recording for Film and Television; Production Design; Digital Effects; Directing Animation as well as a new Certificate in Animation launched with Aardman Animation’s studio in Bristol.

There are also places on Diploma courses such as Production Management and Script Development. For a full list of courses click here.

Pictured: Anthony Chen receiving the Camera d'Or for Ilo Ilo.


Work placements on ITV’s ‘Downton Abbey’, BBC film ‘The Whale’ in Malta, BFI’s short film ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’

Sargent-Disc has announced the new Sargent-Disc Scholarship for two NFTS students on the Production Management for Film and Television diploma starting in September 2013 for two years. Apply for the course before the June 6 course deadline.

The scholarship is being established in recognition of the importance of this key production department and to support the training of talented individuals - demonstrating the commitment Sargent-Disc has to the UK industry (the company provides integrated payroll and residuals, accounting and software services for the entertainment industry and is also the European distributor of international industry standard software).

Students on the NFTS Production Management diploma course have recently enjoyed work experience placements on productions as diverse as the BBC/Discovery film The Whale; Keeping up with the Joneses, a British Film Institute short film starring Maxine Peake, and on the critically acclaimed ITV hit Downton Abbey.

One month of the Production Management course is spent on work placements, which not only provide valuable contacts, but also opportunities for paid work during or after the course.

Keith Abela first started working in film as a runner on the French feature film Asterix & Obelix: God Save Britannia. He also worked as a Production Assistant on World War Z and the Sky series Sinbad before specialising in Production Management at the NFTS. Studying on this course gave him the opportunity to work for five weeks as Trainee Assistant Director on the much-anticipated BBC One/Discovery epic feature film The Whale, shot on location in Malta and at the Mediterranean Film Studios. The coming-of-age adventure film starring Robin Hood actor Jonas Armstrong is based on the experiences of cabin boy Thomas Nickerson on the ship The Essex, which inspired the classic novel Moby Dick. 

Keith said it was an eye-opening experience: “It was an amazing opportunity to be so close to the HoDs and see them working. It was great to be on set and see how they make decisions and problem solve.“

Gina Marsh, Line Producer of The Whale said having an NFTS student on the crew was a positive experience: “Keith was an absolute delight and threw himself into the production. It was a very happy production and he was an important part of the team. No doubt he'll be joining me on another production at some point. Thanks for training him up so well and sending him to us!”

Before coming to NFTS, student Maria Salcher worked on large-scale fashion events such as London Fashion Week. Her five-week placement as Production Co-ordinator on the BFI short film Keeping Up With the Joneses, included six days shooting on location with the Bafta-award winning actress Maxine Peake and gave her an opportunity to work closely with the Producer Megan Stuart-Wallace.

“I learned so much about how to work with big actors, working with a small production team and on a small budget. The NFTS training gave me the confidence to go beyond my comfort zone and take on a range of roles – making myself useful. As a result, I benefitted from a breadth of experience,” says Maria.

Student Síle Jane Culley came to the NFTS after experience on low-budget films in Ireland. She found her time spent on the set of Downton Abbey very rewarding: “It’s a massive production involving helicopter shots, a big crew and cast and all the excitement of being filming on location at a historic building. It gave me a real insight into working on large-scale productions and I saw a well-gelled crew in action. The NFTS course enabled me to slip into the crew confidently and raised my ambition; I definitely want to work in high-end TV drama now.”

Other work placements included the Moli Films feature film Montana; the BFI SciFi 48hr Challenge – produced by Alexandra Breed and directed by Michael Earnest. Students also worked with Origin Pictures, Bedlam Productions, Endemol, StudioCanal, Passion Pictures, Academy Films and All 3 Media.

Don’t miss out on your chance to join the NFTS’ Production Management diploma course. Apply before June 6, 2013. A £5,000 Northern Ireland Screen scholarship available to a successful applicant from Northern Ireland. To find out more about our scholarships and bursaries here

Pictured: Crew on location for the BBC in Malta, filming The Whale

Games Design and Digital Effects students pioneer latest technology

Oculus Rift 3D virtual reality headset used


Year 2 students on the NFTS' Games Design and Development MA recently wow’d the audience at a presentation of their innovative games projects, which included a demo of the Oculus Rift (3D virtual reality headset) - hailed as "the future of gaming."

The Oculus Rift is a headset through which the player enjoys a completely immersed first person 3D view of a game environment. Prototypes of the Rift have only been made available to select developers and the full consumer device will not be released until well into next year.

Year 2 Games Design and Development student Albert Bentall is using the Oculus Rift to envelop the player in a dream-like narrative experience for his graduation game project- the Sandman - which explores ideas around mortality, the subconscious and the transformative journeys within a sleeping child's mind.

NFTS Head of Games Jon Weinbren said: “While most developers are excited about the Oculus Rift's potential in traditional First Person Shooter games, Albert's project uses the technology in a less obvious and much more interesting way. Throughout the department we're not just embracing new technology; we’re always looking for ways to push things forward creatively. In other work we've developed our own new pipelines for character performance and facial expression using new tools and techniques whenever the current tech doesn't work the way we would like it to."

Other Games students’ projects cover a wide range of game play and narrative styles, including Richard Cridford - 'Starrworld' (Working Title); Alexander MacLeod's 'Voice Of The Silent Land'; Richard Metson and Pontus Schonberg's 'Off Grid' (Working Title) and Bojan Brbora's '4PM'.

You can watch a Showreel of their Games projects in progress here. They’ll showcase their projects at trade and consumer events in the autumn. 

“There’s an imaginative spark and strong narrative to all of our Games projects,” adds Jon Weinbren. “The caliber of their work is also a credit to the collaborations with students on other NFTS courses such as Screenwriting, Sound Design, Composing and Production Design.”

Students on this course have come from diverse backgrounds ranging from theatre directing, philosophy, physics, psychology, architecture, television and cinematography. There are a few spaces left on the Games Design & Digital Effects Open Day at the NFTS on 29th May.

Don't miss out on your chance to join the Games Design and Development MA, the Digital Effects MA and other courses - apply before the June 6, 2013 deadline.

(Pictured is student Albert Bentall with NFTS Director Nik Powell trying out the Oculus Rift headset)


For the first time, Digital FX students on this year's Take One Painting project were trained to use 3D scanning technology in the VFX pipeline; something which is increasingly prevalent in the industry as a whole. 3D scanning broadly divides into two sectors:

To create precise and complete 3D computer models of spaces, places, locations and sets there is increasing use of LIght Detection And Ranging or LIDAR scanning technology. These 3D scanners use lasers to bombard the scene, capturing millions of individual measurements that precisely map out the exact geometry of the environment used within the filming. Applications of this LIDAR data range from simple camera tracking and match moving through to highly-detailed photorealistic 3D CGI.  

The second application of advanced measurement technology in VFX has been termed Cyber scanning. This involves the use of 3D scanners to precisely measure and model people and props. These digital characters, known as ‘digi-doubles’, and props are then used in high end CGI animation in which the digital and live action elements are seamlessly blended.

All of this 3D technology has become commonplace in virtually all modern movie production, not just in the myriad, effects laden, blockbuster films such as Iron Man 3 or Thor 2, but also in the more subtle period drams such as Great Expectations and Les Miserables.

NFTS Head of DFX, John Rowe, commented, “We are extremely grateful to Duncan Lees and 4DMax for making this happen. The students have benefitted tremendously from using state of the art techniques very early on in their DFX MA course. It sets the bar high and encourages them to explore and understand the very latest VFX techniques.”

Following a more traditional SFX route, the DFX MA students also understand how pyrotechnics are used for a variety of explosive effects! As part of their training in pyrotechnics, students last year had the opportunity to work under the supervision of instructor Richard Conway (28 days, Indiana and the Temple of Doom) to explode a Saab 9-3 convertible car, and film it at high speed (slow-motion). This popular video of the car exploding has attracted over 33,000 website hits so far. 

“Despite being a Digital FX MA it is vital that our students understand the design and creation of practical special fx," said John Rowe. "Understanding practical SFX is very much a core part of the FX courses we run at the NFTS, and will continue to be so, as it allows our students to be fully conversant with using both digital VFX and practical SFX in the storytelling process. It’s also fantastic fun!”

Over eight years, nearly all (95%) of the DFX graduates have gone straight into the film and television industry. Here’s what some of the DFX Alumni have to say about this course.

"If I hadn't been to the NFTS, I would never have...worked on over half a billion dollars worth of movies! My time at the NFTS has allowed me to work with the highest echelons of film makers.”James Osborne  DPP Grad. 2007 Credits include: The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian; The Chronicles of Narnio: Voyage of the Dawn Treader;Jack The Giant Slayer; I Give It A Year.

"If I hadn't been to the NFTS I wouldn't now be a co-owner of one of the most successful prosthetic and creature effects companies in the UK. The School guided me towards a career so amazing that I thought it only possible in dreams; I'm still pinching myself!” Kate Walshe, SFX/VFX GRAD. 2007 Credits include: Doctor Who; The Wolfman; Being Human.

“If I hadn't been to the NFTS, I  would never have got a Job in the biggest European VFX house, and got to work on BAFTA, VES and Oscar winning Films. I would also not have been able to stick an axe in the back of a zombies face, so its win win!" John Seru, SFX/VFX GRAD. 2007 3D Artist/Sequence Leader Double Negative. Credits include: Skyfall; Total Recall; Captain Americ: The First Avenger; Inception; Kick Ass

Don’t miss out on your chance to apply for the Digital effects MA course –Apply before the June 6 deadline.

NFTS wins full house at the RTS Student Awards

School wins more prizes and nominations than any other college

NFTS students and tutors have been celebrating winning a full house at the Royal Television Society Student Awards (RTS) with students winning all four of the post-graduate prizes - plus four other NFTS films nominated.

• The Mass of Men won Post Graduate Fiction

Newton’s Law won Post Graduate Entertainment

The Betrayal won Post Graduate Factual

Head Over Heels won Post Graduate Animation

The RTS is Britain’s leading forum for television and related media and its prestigious awards attracted competition from 381 films submitted by 75 colleges across the country. The NFTS won in all of its categories – more than any other college in the UK.

Speaking after the awards ceremony at the Barbican in London, NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees who have both gained well-deserved recognition from the industry’s and made the School proud." 

The films' success relied on support from the skills of students on many other courses including Digital Effects, Production Design and Sound Recording.Don’t miss out on your chance to join one of these and other award-winning film, television and animation courses. Apply before the June and July deadlines

We offer generous Scholarships and Bursaries including a NEW Scholarship from Zodiak Media for students on the NFTS Television Producing and Directing course just announced.

The NFTS Winners:

Postgraduate Animation Winner: Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly and Team National Film and Television School

“A genuinely moving film using a simple metaphor to explore a relationship. The lack of dialogue is one of the film’s main strengths, as it drew us closer to the characters, empathising with their story.”

Also Nominated

Buy Buy Baby – Gervais Merryweather, Sarah Senior and Henry Lambourne National Film and Television School.

Postgraduate Entertainment Winner: Newton's Law – Sean O'Riordan and Team National Film and Television School

“Great initial concept with ambition and genuine pure entertainment. With good design and advanced technical knowledge this was a really watchable gameshow that made all the jury excited about how this could be developed.”

Also Nominated

Doubt on Loan – Ian Aryeh-Thompson and Team National Film and Television School.

Postgraduate Factual Winner: The Betrayal – Karen Winther and Team National Film and Television School

“A remarkable and unsentimental personal journey back into a deeply troubled past that was both highly compelling and moving. It was told with an integrity of style and direction, allowing the gradual unfolding of a narrative that gripped the viewer.”

Also Nominated:

One More Kiss – Chris Christodoulou, James Taylor, James Morgan and Gautier Galard National Film and Television School.

Postgraduate Fiction Winner: The Mass of Men – Gabriel Gauchet, Rungano Nyoni, Emily Morgan and Team National Film and Television School.

“The jury described this film as shocking in a good way, something they couldn’t stop watching. The minute you thought you knew where it was going it switched direction. Fantastic performances in a brilliant Kafka-esque, shocking and disturbing film.”

Also Nominated:

Skyborn – Jamie Stone, Len Rowles and Team National Film and Television School

Congratulations also to Nick Rowland, one of our Year 1 Directing Fiction MA students who won the Undergraduate Award for Fiction for his film Dancing in the Ashes made at the Arts University at Bournemouth.

NEW Warner Bros, Zodiak Media & Sargent-Disc Scholarships announced

Apply now for these and other generous scholarships & bursaries

Do you aspire to become a world-class professional in the film, television or games industry and have the talent to match your enthusiasm?

At the NFTS we believe that great talent shouldn't be held back by fees, which is why we provide a range of scholarships and bursaries - thanks to the generousity of benefactors such as Warner Bros. who have just announced a new scholarship of up to £10,000 for MA courses starting in 2014, Zodiak Media who have announced a new £10,800 scholarship for students on the Producing and Directing Television Entertainment MA course and Sargent-Disc who have announced a new scholarship for two students on the Production Management diploma course.

Sargent-Disc - which provides integrated payroll and residuals, accounting and software services for the entertainment industry and is also the European distributor of international industry standard software – Movie Magic Budgeting, Movie Magic Scheduling and Vista Accounting - has announced the new Sargent-Disc Scholarship for two NFTS students on the Production Management diploma starting in September 2013 for two years.

The scholarship is being established in recognition of the importance of this key production department and to support the training of talented individuals - demonstrating the commitment Sargent-Disc has to the UK industry. 

Laurence Sargent, Director, Sargent-Disc said ‘The NFTS and its students make a massive contribution to the long term health of the British film industry and we wanted to recognise its efforts in achieving excellence, and to encourage talented individuals to train to become high calibre Production Managers."

Leading independent TV company Zodiak Media has just agreed a two year sponsorship arrangement with the NFTS marking the beginning of a new partnership between the two organisations. Their first scholarship to be awarded in Autumn 2013.

David G. Croft, Head of Television Entertainment, NFTS said: “I am delighted that Zodiak Media, a leading force in the global TV marketplace, is investing in the talented Producing & Directing students of the Television Entertainment department here at the NFTS. This scholarship will help us attract talented students for whom the fees might otherwise have been a barrier.”

The Warner Bros. scholarship is part of the company's Creative Talent programme which will support the next generation of UK creative industries’ talent with scholarships attached to work placements and mentoring, apprenticeships and training courses, giving young people of all backgrounds invaluable industry experience and insight across Warner Bros.’ UK film, TV, games and theatre operations.

NFTS is one of a small number of higher education institutions to have been specially selected in the UK. The scholarship will provide a contribution to course fees, a short paid placement within the Warner Bros. group of companies or our associates, a mentor within the business, invitations to attend Warner Bros. Creative Talent master classes and opportunities to network and collaborate with fellow members of the Warner Bros. Creative Talent Season and to meet WB staff.

Warner Bros. Creative Talent is part of Warner Bros.’ long-term commitment to the UK’s creative industries, which has seen significant, recent investment in Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden; in TV production company, Shed Media; in leading video games companies Rocksteady Studios and TT Games; in Soho post-production house, De Lane Lea; in the forthcoming West End musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and in Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.

Nik Powell, Director, NFTS said, “We’re excited to be working with Warner Bros. on this new scholarship because, as well as financial assistance, it will provide a work placement and additional networking opportunities that will be invaluable to our students as they embark on their future careers in film and television.”

Josh Berger CBE, President & Managing Director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland & Spain, speaking at the recent launch of Warner Bros. Creative Talent said: “As we continue to make more films, TV shows, video games and stage plays here, as well as investing in state-of-the-art studios, we will be calling upon the very best talent the country has to offer. To that end, it is crucially important to us to invest in the next generation, so that we not only have a diverse pool of exceptional talent to work with, but that we also play our part in maintaining the UK’s position as a global creative industries leader.”

The NFTS provides a range of generous scholarships and bursaries with support from of other benefactors, such as the Leverhulme Trust that offers £100,000 a year to students who can’t afford the fees. 

And we’re very excited to have a £5000 Northern Ireland Screen Scholarship available for successful Northern Ireland applicants for the one-year Production Management diploma course at NFTS. The course starts in September 2013 and the application deadline is 6th June.

In 2012, the NFTS was able to offer students from all over the world 61 scholarships from 35 separate donors totaling £331,500 and bursary support of £322,835. And 85% of UK students received financial support because we believe investing in behind-the-camera talent today will guarantee a successful British film industry tomorrow.

So if you’ve got talent and ambition don’t let the fees hold you back. Apply now before the June + July deadlines for the courses are on our site here: