IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong & Father Ted writer director masterclass

Graham Linehan talks to NFTS students

Multi-BAFTA winning Writer /Director Graham Linehan, whose final episode of hit series The IT Crowd was broadcast on Friday (Oct 27) has given a masterclass to students at the National Film and Television School.

Linehan, whose critically acclaimed and hugely popular comedy work includes the IT Crowd, Count Arthur Strong, and the iconic TV series Father Ted (with co-writer Arthur Matthews), as well as Black Books (with co-writer Dylan Moran), Harry Enfield and Chums, Brass Eye, and The Armstrong and Miller Show, talked about his love of developing characters, the valuable rigours of writing for a studio audience - and working to deadlines driven by ‘guilt.’

Irish-born Linehan has been described as "a creative comic genius and has won a mantlepiece of awards including 4 BAFTAs, two Writers' Guild awards, an EMMY and the British Comedy award for best comedy writer, but said he hadn’t been to university. Instead, he said he’d broken into journalism by writing music reviews that people found funny and was brought over to England to write for Select magazine where he met Arthur Matthews at Hot Press & they started writing “silly sketches” together.

He and Matthews spotted an opportunity when they read the large number of writer credits on the TV popular comedy sketch show Smith & Jones. “We decided it was worth sending some of our stuff in…and were hired.

Linehan’s subject matter has often tackled controversial subjects. Father Ted about a group of dysfunctional Irish Catholic priests. Linehan said: “My favourite thing is taking a taboo subject and writing them so they’re not offensive.”

Commenting on the Father Ted characters were so popular that the show ran for 3 years over 25 episodes, Linehan said: “People need characters they can fall in love with over the course of a series. But creating characters is so hard. It’s the toughest part of creating a sit-com.

 “Sit-coms get slated more quickly than any other form of TV, so those first gags in the opening episode of a series have to be really strong.”

He used to write the 3rd or 4th episode of a series first, so he could, “get going strong with the writing before writing the first episode. I’ll plan around the set-piece moments in a story, so everything else can be gags leading up to them. Then I can’t wait to make those big moments happen.”

So far all of his shows have been filmed in front of a studio audience, which Linehan says is invaluable as a writer-director: “The reason I like studio audiences is there’s a rigour to it.  The fear of the audience at the end of the week means you write & re-write till it’s a sharp, pointy thing. And actors can ride the wave of laughter and respond to it, so a good moment can become a great moment and a great moment can become transcendent.”

Despite Linehan’s incredible success, he admitted that making sketch shows was, ”a young man’s game. They’re very hard to make. If you are doing a sketch show you should be trying to shoot maybe 500% more than you’ve written.”

Admitting that his writing routine wasn’t perfect, he said this was one of the reasons he likes working with a writing partner: “I’ll have two weeks doing nothing and then panic, fucking up the quality of my own life by not managing my time better.”

Graham Linehan is on the advisory board of the NFTS’ new Writing and Producing Comedy course delivered in partnership with Channel 4. 

Linehan's Masterclass comes hot on the heels of masterclasses given recently by Bourne Supremacy & United 93 Writer Director Paul Greengrass andtop independent producer Jeremy Thomas whose film 'The Last Emperor' won 9 Oscars.

Triple success for TV Entertainment students

Places still available on Broadcast Production for Sound

The NFTS’ Producing and Directing Television Entertainment department is celebrating a triple run of success this month.

2013 graduates Tim Partridge and Omar Kenawi have just won the student prize at the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards with their short bridges-to-industry film ‘A Human Race’.

‘A Human Race’, directed by Tim Partridge and produced by Omar Kenawi, competed against over 700 other entries to bag first prize in this prestigious competition.

Producer Omar Kenawi who has worked in TV Development and Production at Pioneer Productions since graduating in March, said: “Thank you to the NFTS - we couldn't have done it without the amazing opportunities the school provides. What a place to go, it's really life changing.”

Just 6 months after graduation, two student TV shows – ‘Killer Moves’ and ‘Anything You Can Do’ - have been selected for the New York Television Festival’s Independent Pilot Competition.

'Anything You Can Do' Directed by Martina Kabelkova and Produced by Omar Kenawi has been selected for the New York Television Festival and is the only non-American show in the Unscripted Pilot Section. In this lifestyle competition show, two teams from opposite ends of the same profession must change places and master new skills in an alien world.

Martina said: “I am very excited to have our show selected by such a prestigious festival. I can't wait to watch it with the American audience.”

You can watch the trailer for Anything You Can Do on YouTube here.

Killer Moves’, Produced and Co-Written by fellow 2013 graduate Ben Hillyar with (non-NFTS) co-writer David Mayes and Directed by 2013 graduate Tim Partridge has also been selected by the New York Television Festival in the Comedy Pilot section. 'Killer Moves' is a comedy about a shy but sweet contract killer who falls for his next door neighbour, an adventurous Police Officer. 

Ben Hillyar and David Mayes have also just signed as comedy writers with David Higham Associates.

Ben said: "I'm absolutely thrilled Killer Moves has been selected for the NYTVF and can't wait to show our pilot to execs and audiences in New York. I’m grateful to the NFTS for giving me the training, experience and contacts I needed to start a career in TV.”

The NYTVF Official selection page is here -

And congratulations to graduate Rebecca Casey who has just been named a Broadcast Magazine Hotshot and is featured in a special edition of the influential industry magazine.

Rebecca won a Royal Television Society award for her TV graduation project 'If You Wanna Be My Lodger.’ She then went on to gain an internship at production company Monkey Kingdom while also working on ITV’s 'Dancing on Ice' before joining ITV's ‘Dinner Date’ as a researcher. Just six months after graduating she was given her first break by a TV Executive who had talent spotted her at the NFTS’ Graduation Show and hired her as Assistant Producer.

“I secured a commission for Channel 4 and was given the opportunity to work on a documentary. It was my first experience in documentary and confirmed to me that this was what I wanted to continue doing.” says Rebecca.

She then went on the work on a Sky Living documentary and did a stint as a development producer for ZKK, followed by work at Firecracker Films acquiring commissions on big entertainment TV series as well as one offs with difficult access as well as Assistant Producing on two Channel 4 one-offs 'Sex on Wheels' and an, as yet, untitled film that will be out in October 2013.

Rebecca is now about to Produce a fourth Channel 4 film. Rebecca added: “The NFTS played a huge part in getting me to where I am today, the industry contacts and the chance to produce my own graduate TV programme were invaluable to the progression of my career. I’m very excited about my career in television.”

For more information about the course go to

To APPLY for the hugely successful NFTS Producing and Directing TV Entertainment MA course, contact the NFTS Registry at 

Places are also still available on our Broadcast Production diploma course for students specialising in Sound. This course is delivered in partnership with Sky TV and includes a 6 week placement at Sky Studios in London and the chance of a job for at least one graduate at the end of the course. 


Two thirds of these films were made in the UK

A record number of at least 89 NFTS graduates are credited with key roles in 35 features and short films at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. These include the Opening Gala European Premiere of ‘Captain Phillips’ starring Tom Hanks (pictured above), two other Gala films, plus one in Competition for Best Film and another in the First Feature competition.

Roles range from Directors such as Clio Bernard whose film ‘The Selfish Giant’ is in Competition for Best Film; ‘Captain Phillips’ Production designer Paul Kirby, ‘Gravity’ Digital Compositor Giacomo Matteucci; ‘The Invisible Woman’ Assistant Art Director Marco Anton Restivo; Valerio Bonelli, Editor of the film ‘Philomena’ Directed by NFTS Visiting Fellow Stephen Frears; ‘Under The Skin’ Dialogue Editor Jussi Honka as well as Writer, Director and Producer Anthony Chen whose Cannes 2013 Camera d’Or prize winning film ‘Ilo Ilo’ includes many other grads in its credits.

And the NFTS is proud to note that two thirds (28 out of the 35) of the films involving NFTS graduates were made in the UK.

This amazing achievement comes in a year when LFF organisers have been heralding the strength of the British film industry, and ‘Captain Philips’ Director Paul Greengrass said: “We are attracting the best talent in the world to come and make films in this country.”

Also premiering in the Festival's Documentary section is, 'The Do Gooders' directed by Chloe Ruthven, (a Roast Beef Production). This is the first film / feature doc to come through the NFTS Film Clinic, a completion fund for emerging documentary makers, sponsored by YouTube. This acutely personal documentary looks at the complex political issue of Western aid programmes in Palestine.

The films with NFTS Graduate involvement in key roles are as follows. 

19 Feature films:

Blackwood Dialogue Editor Adele Fletcher; 
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
The Double Associate Producer Polly Stokes; Co-Editor Nick Fenton
Exhibition Writer/Director Joanna Hogg; Producer Gayle Griffiths; Editor Helle Le Fevre; Production Designer Stephane Collonge; Art Director Pedro Moura; Sound Mixer Howard Peryer; Boom Operator Kyle Pickford
Gone Too Far Associate Producer Rob Watson; DoP Stil Williams; Editor Anna Dick; Production Designer Laura Tarrant-Brown; Sound Mixer Ronald Bailey; Boom Operator Jennifer Annor; Production Assistant Lawrence Mason
Gravity Digital Compositor Giacomo Matteucci; Junior Draughtsman Thomas Goodwin; 3D Previs Stereo Advisor Melissa Byers
Half of a Yellow Sun Assistant Art Director Luke Hull; Boom Operator Tawa K Durowoju; Assistant Production Coordinator Hussain Ahmed
Ilo Ilo
Writer/Director/Producer Anthony Chen; DoP Benoit Soler; Editor Hoping Chen; Sound Designer/Sound Editor/Dubbing Mixer Zhe Wu
The Invisible Woman Assistant Art Director Marco Anton Restivo; Stand-By Art Director Huw Arthur; Foley Editor Rob Prynne; Sound Assistant Michael Lee Taylor
Beat Writer/Director Aneil Karia; DoP Stuart Bentley; Sound Designer Gunnar Oskarsson; Sound Recordist Xan Márquez Caneda
Late at Night Voices of Ordinary Madness [Doc] Director/DoP/Producer Xiaolu Guo; Producer/Editor/Sound/Composer Philippe Ciompi
Leave to Remain DoP Felix Wiedemann
Philomena Editor Valerio Bonelli; Sound Assistant Michael Lee Taylor
Pioneer Director/Co-Writer Erik Skjoldbjaerg
Saving Mr Banks Art Director Will Field; Sx-Tape Director Bernard Rose; Rerecording Mixer Adrian Rhodes
The Selfish Giant Writer/Director Clio Barnard; Editor Nick Fenton; Rerecording Mixer Martin Jensen; Development Editor Jamie Wolpert
Under The Skin Dialogue Editor Jussi Honka; 3D Camera Tracker Sarah Byers; 3D Artist Samuel Walsh; Digital Compositors Nicholas Zissimos, Victor Tomi & Jorge Canada Escorihuela
The Do Gooders [Doc] Executive Producer Lara Agnew; Sound Editor Peter Warnock; Colourist and Online Editor Roni Rodrigues  

16 Short films:

Anita DoP Robin Whenary; Sound Designer Vicente Villaescusa
uschwitz on My Mind Co-Producer Jonny Persey
Close DoP Nick Cooke; Editor Fiona DeSouza; Composer Matt Kelly 
Drone Designer Kristian Milsted 
The Field Sound Editor Adele Fletcher 
Going Under Executive Producers Emily Morgan & Megan Stuart Wallace; DoP Charlie Goodger
Jasmine’s Revolution Sound Designer Nikola Zivojinovic
Keeping Up with the Joneses Director Michael Pearce; Producer Megan Stuart-Wallace; Composer Stuart Earl 
Minimus DoP Stuart Bentley 
Orbit Ever After Writer/Director Jamie Stone; Producer Len Rowles; DoP Robin Whenary; Production Designer Abigail Joshi; Composer Graham Hadfield; Sound Recordist Caroline Singh
Our Lad Editor Miikka Leskinen 
Sea View DoP Tom Townend; Supervising Sound Editor Paul Davies 
Sidney DoP Bjørn Ståle Bratberg 
Something for Nothing Producer Zorana Piggott 
Things He Never Said DoP Andrew Alderslade 
Twinkle, Twinkle DoP David Liddell; Editor Fiona DeSouza

To visit the London Film Festival website, go to

Paul Greengrass gives NFTS masterclass

‘Bourne Supremacy’ & ‘United 93’ writer director talks about his search for authenticity

Triple BAFTA winning and Oscar nominated writer-director Paul Greengrass, whose film ‘Captain Phillips’ opens the London Film Festival next month, took time out to give a Masterclass to students at the National Film and Television School.

Greengrass made his name for controversial documentary style films such as ‘United 93’ about the 9/11 airplane hostages, ‘Stephen Lawrence’ about a racially motivated murder in London and ‘Bloody Sunday’ about the Troubles in Northern Ireland before going on to make blockbusters thrillers ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and the ‘The Bourne Ultimatum,’ starring Matt Damon.

However, he started his career on the ITV investigative current affairs programme ‘World In Action’. Speaking in conversation with NFTS Head of Documentary Dick Fontaine, who also worked on ‘World In Action’, Paul Greengrass said: “We were there to make trouble! It was a place that prized narrative, character and images. But you were forced to develop a point of view about the world and the kind of films you wanted to make.”

He urged young film-makers to do the same, adding that it had taken him a long time to ‘find his own voice’ in film-making: “Make as many films as you can at first and figure out what is the song that only you can sing. That is the only thing that counts in the end. Whatever your style or subject matter, in the end film-making is about searching for authenticity - that is what the audience will divine. It’s what you have the opportunity to do at the NFTS and that’s really rare.”

In his 30’s, Greengrass said he lacked the language and the filmic confidence to find his own voice: “I’d been shooting films how I thought grown-ups were supposed to make films, but I was never being brave”.

Eventually he decided to only make films he wanted to make, in the way he wanted to make them. Greengrass has since become known as the ‘king of handheld.’

“By degrees, and it was hard, I developed the confidence to realise you have to stand naked in the middle of it – the writing, the shooting, the acting.

"Finding my own voice took a long time. I wrote film scripts but they didn’t get shot the way I’d imagined them. I then decided I must only make films that I really wanted to make. I took that commitment into making the film Stephen Lawrence about a murder case that at the time wasn’t was well known at the time as it is today."

He went on to make the make ‘Bloody Sunday’ about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which was praised by critics for being ‘an amazing feat of movie making.’ Following the success of these films, Greengrass was invited to Hollywood to make two of the 'Bourne' films.

“I had been in a safe place with what I was doing and wanted to move out of my comfort zone. I wanted to make a commercial film; that was part of the fun of it - to see if I could make a great thriller. ‘Bourne’ is a popcorn story about a guy who loses his memory; I loved that character. He’s not an order reinforce; he’s one of us against them.”

Greengrass later made the Oscar nominated ‘United 93’ about the 9/11 terrorist attack on an American plane in the hours before it crashed, which he described as, ‘….a film all about what we don’t know. In the gap of what people didn’t know and struggling to make sense of it, is a growing sense of humanity. Finding intense humanity from dark places.”

He also wrote and directed ‘Green Zone’, again starring Matt Damon, about the war in Iraq and the search for weapons of mass destruction, which he said had been aimed at athe teenage boy audience.

Concluding his talk, Greengrass gave this advice to young film-makers: “Not every film will work out perfectly but what matters is that that you find your point of view - the song you need to sing - and then the film will be authentically yours.”

Last week also saw a visit to the NFTS by top independent producer Jeremy Thomas whose film 'The Last Emperor' won 9 Oscars.

A record number of at least 88 NFTS graduates are credited with key roles in 34 features and short films at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, including seven on the Opening Gala European Premiere of Paul Greengrass’ film ‘Captain Phillips’ starring Tom Hanks.



Star-studded launch with ‘Les Miserables’ Director Tom Hooper + ‘Lord of the Rings’ actor Andy Serkis

The British Film Institute (BFI) has selected the NFTS to run a 2-week residential craft skills course as part of its national BFI Film Academy training programme for 16-19-year-olds.

For the second year running, the NFTS has been chosen to deliver an intensive two week residential craft skills course, held during the Easter break in 2014, for 66 young people, featuring master-classes from leading film industry figures and offering students practical experience of using high-tech, industry-standard equipment.

The news was announced at a star-studded celebration event at the Houses of Parliament yesterday (04.09.13), hosted by Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP and BFI CEO Amanda Nevill, attended by Director Tom Hooper (Les Misérables, The King’s Speech), Actor Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), and Managing Director of Classic FM (UK) Darren Henley, at which the BFI Film Academy said it was ‘…delighted to, once again, be working with world renowned and multi award-winning NFTS in 2013/14.’

It follows on from a glittering showcase of films made at the NFTS by last year’s Film Academy graduates at the BFI Southbank in April hosted by BFI Chair, Greg Dyke and NFTS Director Nik Powell, attended by film industry figures including Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Bond actress Naomie Harris.

The search is now on to find 900 talented 16-19 year olds from across the UK and from all backgrounds to take part in this pioneering and exciting programme. The main requirement is that they be passionate about film and want the opportunity to develop the skills and ambition to forge a career in film.

BFI CEO, Amanda Nevill said: “Following an enormously successful inaugural year in 2012, the Academy is now establishing itself as a gold standard training and development programme with a vision for future growth. This wouldn’t be possible without the backing of the Department for Education and we thank them and all our partners for their continuing support as we this year take the Film Academy to more people than ever across the UK.”

Last year’s participants benefitted from masterclasses from leading British talent including directors Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), Ken Loach (The Angels’ Share, The Wind That Shakes The Barley), and Asif Kapadia (Senna), actor Riz Ahmed (Four Lions), and Bond production executive, Anthony Waye, and were taken on insider tours of facilities including Pinewood Studios and the BFI National Archive and received masterclasses, career surgeries and one-to-one mentoring support from industry professionals courtesy of BAFTA.

The BFI Film Academy forms a key part of the BFI’s ambitious plans to revolutionise film education for 5-19 year olds, a core aim of the BFI’s Film Forever five-year plan to support the future success of UK film. Its funding partners include the Department for Education in England, which has provided £3m for the programme, with the National Lottery, Creative Scotland and Northern Ireland Screen this year working with the BFI to take the Academy to every nation of the UK.

Strategic partners include BAFTA, Pinewood Studios and Creative Skillset, helping to ensure the Academy is a gold standard film industry-focused educational programme.

For more information on how to apply for the BFI Film Academy delivered by the NFTS please see:

Pictured are participants from last year's BFI Film Academy with BFI CEO Amanda Nevill, Director Tom Hooper, actors Andy Serkis and Lorraine Ashbourne-Serkis, Aardman Animation's Peter Lord and actor Reece Shearsmith.

For more information about the BFI Film Academy scheme as a whole please click here:

The BFI is the lead body for film in the UK with the ambition to create a flourishing film environment in which innovation, opportunity and creativity can thrive by:

• Connecting audiences to the widest choice of British and World cinema

• Preserving and restoring the most significant film collection in the world for today and future generations

• Investing in creative, distinctive and entertaining work

• Promoting British film and talent to the world

• Growing the next generation of film makers and audiences

INGENIOUS CEO Patrick McKenna named new Chairman of NFTS

Financier behind Avatar, Life of Pi, Trance, 127 Hours, X-Men First Class will help steer NFTS Digital Village plans

Patrick McKenna, founder and Chief Executive of Ingenious, the UK’s leading investor in the creative industries, has been appointed Chairman of the National Film & Television School (NFTS) Board of Governors.

His company has raised and invested over £8 billion into the UK’s creative industries since 1998 including finance for the highest grossing film of all time, James Cameron’s Avatar , the award-winning Life of Pi, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and blockbusters X-Men First Class, The Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard, Rise of the Planet of the Apes as well as Danny Boyle’s indie hits Trance and 127 Hours starring James Franco.

Ingenious also invests in British-made TV production and formats with international appeal, such as drama series Doc Martin, Foyle’s War and most recently crime thriller series The Fall, the most popular new BBC2 drama for many years.

Patrick is chairman of the Young Vic Theatre Company and St John’s, Smith Square, the classical music venue, as well as a number of prominent media companies including Hat Trick Productions, makers of hit comedy series such as Father Ted, Outnumbered and the Armstrong and Miller show.

Patrick McKenna and Ingenious have been involved with the NFTS for many years as a guest speaker, funder and supporter of our work, co-sponsor of this year’s Gala and contributor to our innovative Entrepreneurial Producing for the Creative Industries course (EPCRI). 

Speaking on his appointment as Chair, Patrick McKenna said: “The NFTS has built a worldwide reputation for delivering excellent film and TV education and is fortunate in being able to attract some of the world’s best creative talent onto its teaching programmes. The NFTS has both the expertise and the track record to ensure that Britain remains one of the best places to conceive and produce media content.”

Nik Powell, Director of the NFTS, commented: “It’s brilliant to have such a major figure in our business as Patrick as our new Chairman. I very much look forward to working with him to complete phase two of the NFTS Digital Village project and ensuring the NFTS remains one of the top film schools in the world.”

Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, congratulated Patrick on his appointment and added: "The NFTS is one of the best film schools in the world. Patrick McKenna and Ingenious have a proud history of investing in the UK's Creative Industries, and have contributed to many of our global success stories, including Avatar and Life of Pi. I look forward to Patrick taking the NFTS to new levels of success in his new role as chairman."

Patrick succeeds Simon Shaps who stepped down at the end of his term and recently became Managing Director, International Content and production, at CORE Media Group.

Pictured is Patrick McKenna during a recent Harley Davidson road trip across California

“This course has been fantastic!”

Broadcast Production students on Sky Studios work placement

Students on the Broadcast Production course have just returned from a 6 week placement at Sky Studios where they’ve been working on sports shows such as Soccer AM, Fantasy Football and the new Sky Sports flagship children’s show Game Changers, featuring David Beckham.

The 12 month diploma course allows students to specialise in the three core disciplines of broadcast production: Vision Mixing, Camera Lighting or Sound.

Sound specialist students Siyuan (Tao) Lin and Sam Stubbs-Benbow were assigned a Sound Supervisor mentor at Sky to show them the ropes in the state-of-the- art multi-camera studio before giving them the chance work on live shows. They were given the responsibility to mix the sound from Studio mics and outside broadcast feeds, monitor the quality and use audio processing as appropriate to enhance the programme sound, set up and manage studio talkback systems allowing key production team members to communicate effectively.

Tao Lin, 27, previously studied Music Technology and worked in Computer Sound Design for a games company. He signed up for the course to make a career change into Television: “I love the stress of working on a live TV show; it keeps you on your toes and gives you a real adrenaline rush.

"Sky is a great studio with great equipment but the best part was the people. My mentor really took me under his wing and I felt I could ask him anything. When he saw that I knew what I was doing, he gave me opportunities to get stuck in and do the job. As a result I can now see myself developing into different TV roles and, over time, the chance of career progression.”

Both Tao and Sam worked at Sky on Live and Pre-recorded shows such as Soccer AM, Fantasy Football, ATP Tennis, Super Rugby Union, Boats ‘n’ All, Cricket AM and Game Changers.

Sam, 19, said working on Game Changers, Sky’s new Saturday sports show for kids was the most exciting: “This course has been a fantastic experience. No other course gives you the chance to work for 6 weeks in the studio of one of the major TV broadcasters.

"You go in as a member of their staff on their roster. I got given a lot of time by my mentor who gave me more responsibility each week until they’re happy for you to go straight onto the floor to work as a sound operator – it was definitely worth it!”

Sam had also previously studied Music Technology at A Level and was drawn to study sound through a passion for music. He offered this advice to anyone considering joining this course next January (2014). “I already had a backbone knowledge of sound but you don’t need an in depth knowledge of sound to do this course. You are taken through the theory at the start of the course at the NFTS and get to practice in their TV studios before you go to Sky. It's exciting and a great way into the industry.”

At least one graduate from the Broadcast Production course will be taken on to work at Sky at the end of the course.

For more information and to apply for this course to start in 2014 please see the course webpage at:

Horror Film Made by NFTS Students Wins FrightFest 1st prize

'Six Feet Under' beats stiff competition

A 3-minute horror movie made by NFTS students has beaten stiff competition to win 1st prize at the UK’s national horror genre festival Film4 FrightFest.

Six Feet Under’ written and directed by student Weronika Tofilska and produced by Helen Gladders puts an entertainingly feminine spin on the traditionally male horror genre and features a deadly song, written and performed by fellow NFTS students. The film focuses on a young woman nervously starting her first day working alone in a morgue as the make-up artist charged with making dead bodies more life-like for their funerals.

They fought off 156 other submissions from across the UK to win the Short Cuts to Hell challenge of producing a killer micro-horror film within a budget of just £666, no more than six lines of dialogue, six hours shoot time, six cast and six crew. It was filmed in the NFTS canteen.

A jury of six judges selected six films of which ‘Six Feet Under’ was unanimously voted the outstanding best film. Weronika Tofilska was awarded £6,666 prize money plus the opportunity – with Helen Gladders - to make a feature or short film with Movie Mogul.

Tofilska, in the second year of her Fiction Directing MA at the NFTS, said “We entered the Short Cuts to Hell competition from a love of filmmaking and our naive enthusiasm that a short film can be made in six hours. It was, although hard work, a truly enjoyable and unforgettable experience. Being recognised for our work means that we can share the fun and joy we had while making the film with viewers.”

Congratulations to the NFTS team: Writer and Director Weronika Tofilska, Producer Helen Gladders, DoP James Blaan, Editor Rory Gordon, Sound Luke Shrewsbury, Colourist/Online Editor Ram Tripathi, Music composed by Dave Pearce and sung by Agis Pirlis.

Frightfest judge and Movie Mogul Ltd MD John Shackleton said: "The judges felt that in many ways, Weronika had created the perfect short film and given the audience reaction to the film also, it seems that her film would have secured an audience vote too, had there been one. Weronika Tofilska and Helen Gladders' necromantic take on the 'Six Feet Under' title made the jury selection in the '666 Shortcuts to Hell' competition without contention. It is a perfectly formed and beautifully crafted short film.”

Alongside the Film4 FrightFest main stage screening, £6,666 prize money and a broadcast from sponsors the Horror Channel, the film is now available as part of an anthology release 'Shortcuts to Hell: Volume 1' on iTunes through partners Movie Mogul, who also offer a feature film development opportunity to the winners.

NFTS beats off world-wide competition to win all 3 CILECT awards

World’s Top Film Schools Vote for NFTS

The NFTS has made history by beating off competition from the world’s major film schools to win ALL three CILECT awards - the equivalent of film school 'Oscars'.

160 institutions from 60 countries are members of CILECT (The International Association of Film and Television Schools), which organises a competition every year to find the world’s best student films.

For the first time in CILECT’s history, members voted overwhelmingly for student films submitted by the NFTS to win all 3 categories: Fiction, Documentary and Animation.

CILECT Executive Director Stanislav Semerdjiev said in a message to the Association’s members: “It is astounding. For the first time in the history of the competition we have a situation that until now was considered only a theoretical possibility. In all three categories, CILECT members have voted for films entered by the same school - the NFTS in the UK.”

“I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to our friend and colleague Nik Powell and to the whole team, staff and students of NFTS and to wish them the very best in all their future endeavours!”

Head Over Heels written and directed by Timothy Reckart and produced by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly won the CILECT Animation prize; After written and directed by Lukasz Konopa won the Documentary prize and The Mass of Men written and directed by Gabriel Gauchet was awarded the prize for Fiction. These films have collectively been screened at 160 festivals world-wide, won over 60 prestigious awards including the Royal Television Society Student awards, Locarno Film Festival, San Sebastian, Encounters, Anima Mundi, the first ever Student Annie award and Head Over Heels was the only student film in the world nominated for an Oscar in 2013. 

The 3 films will be shown at the CILECT Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where prizes will be awarded on September 17-18th.

NFTS Director Nik Powell said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the students involved and another phenomenal first for the NFTS! To win all three categories by an overwhelming majority of the globe’s major film schools is unprecedented. It puts British talent firmly at the top in the world following the NFTS' 6th Student Academy Award win and an Oscar nomination earlier this year, an NFTS graduate winning the prestigious Camera d’Or at Cannes 2013 – not to mention Britain bagging the Ashes, Wimbledon and the Tour de France!”

Head Over Heels has been screened at over 75 festivals around the world, has won over 30 festival awards, won three Oscar-qualifying grand prizes (Anima Mundi in Brazil, and Heartland Film Festival and Austin Film Festival in the USA) and won the first ever Annie Award for Student Film. It was also nominated for an Academy Award and the Cartoon d'Or.

Head Over Heels Director Timothy Reckart said: “I feel lucky to be part of such a historic moment for the NFTS. Beyond simply providing an education, the school creates a tight community of filmmakers who support and inspire each other, and I think the success of all three film departments at CILECT says a lot about the richness of that artistic community.”

The Mass of Men has been screened at more then 60 festivals worldwide where it has won 25 Awards including the Grand Prix in 4 Oscar qualifying festivals: Locarno, Tampere, Short Shorts Asia in Tokyo and Huesca.

After has been screened at 25 film festivals around the world so far, including SXSW, Visions du Reel, Camerimage and Encounters, winning 4 awards. After Director Lukasz Konopa said: “Being recognized in this competition means that through this simple, modest documentary we managed to say something new, something that touches people around the world. I am grateful to my tutors and my friends for their support and encouragement.”

CILECT - The International Association of Film and Television Schools (Centre International de Liaison des Ecoles de Cinéma et de Télévision – CILECT) was founded in Cannes, France in 1955, the brainchild of the two leading figures of the French film school IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques) – Marcel L’Herbier (IDHEC President) and Rémy Tessonneau (IDHEC General Director).

Featured image: Gabriel Gauchet, director of Mass of Men, with his Golden Leopard for Best International Short Film at the Locarno Film Festival.

NFTS launches comedy course with Channel 4

Fresh Meat’s Sam Bain & Father Ted’s Graham Linehan among advisors & guest tutors

The NFTS is launching the UK’s first industry recognised comedy course.

The exciting new 18 month part-time NFTS Diploma in Writing and Producing Comedy will be run in partnership with Channel 4 and its advisory board includes Sam Bain (Peep Show, Fresh Meat, Rev), Graham Linehan (Father Ted, IT Crowd), Caroline Norris (Horrible Histories, The Armstrong & Miller Show, Dead Ringers), John O’Farrell (Spitting Image, Have I Got News For You, Novelist) and many others.

Students will develop all forms of scripted comedy including, sketch shows, sitcoms and comedy dramas taught by NFTS writing and producing tutors supported by guest sessions from the people responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic UK shows. It will combine both theory and practice.

Channel 4 will provide facilities for teaching sessions at their London HQ and C4 commissioners will review material produced by the participants as well as deliver workshops and masterclasses.

Phil Clarke, Head of Comedy at Channel 4 said: “Producing comedy is a serious business. Inherent comic talent is important, however, acquiring the craft of making comedy is the only way to sustain a career.  Channel 4 has a long tradition of engaging with, and encouraging, new talent but the more experience you can gain when starting out, the better. If you are considering a career in comedy, then the NFTS is a fast track for acquiring those career sustaining skills.” 

The award-winning comedy duo Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong have co-written two films (Four Lions, Magicians), six hit TV shows including Peep Show and Fresh Meat and the Radio 4 show That Mitchell and Webb Sound.

Sam Bain, who has been a course adviser since it was first proposed by the NFTS, said: “Jesse and I met on a creative writing course - they're a great way to learn your trade. A course provides deadlines and feedback - the bread and water of a writer's life. And there's always the chance you'll meet the writing partner of your dreams. Keep a dozen roses in your in your carrier bag on the off-chance."

Applications are now open for the NFTS Comedy Course that starts in January 2014. Applicants must be able to: demonstrate a knowledge of television/film; provide details of past achievements; demonstrate a clear focus for their future ambitions; and, crucially, show one or more examples of material that demonstrates comedy capabilities.

However, the NFTS Director, Nik Powell said: “The main entrance requirement is that applicants must be funny and have a passion for comedy.”

He added: “People often question whether comedy can be taught. We take the view that a sense of humour is innate but being able to write comedy for film or television is a skill that is honed through practice. That’s why we’ve got some of the UK’s best comedy writers on board - like Sam Bain and Graham Linehan - to advise on this course and be guest tutors.”

The course costs £7,000, is part-time over 18 months and applications need to be submitted by October 3, 2013. To apply for this course, visit the course page or contact the NFTS Registry by email