Multi Oscar-Nominated Director Visits NFTS

PT Anderson masterclass packs out NFTS cinema

Multi Oscar-nominated Director PT Anderson (The Master, There Will Be Blood, Magnolia, Boogie Nights) gave a masterclass at the NFTS last Sunday to a packed cinema.

He talked about his work over his six magnificent films as well as his writing, and the amazing actors he has worked with over his career.

Regarding his preparation for filmmaking, PT Anderson commented "You immerse yourself in the research, then at some point you have to throw it away & trust yourself to make a film. Otherwise you might as well go be a historian."

and on his writing - "I try to write every day. I probably end up having a better day if I get up just a little bit earlier & write."

Hosted by NFTS Director Nik Powell, it was followed by a discussion with the students on all aspects of filmmaking.

Student film praised in Parliament

NFTS documentary could now be shown in schools.

An NFTS graduating student’s film about the lives of two young men from a Peckham housing estate has been applauded following a special screening in front of a packed audience of MPs, lawyers, youth workers and campaigners in the House of Commons.

The documentary, provisionally titled, Sodiq & Sylvester, is directed by NFTS student Adeyemi, and follows the lives of Sodiq Adeojo who dreamed of becoming a doctor and Sylvester Akpalara, who had a promising career as an athlete ahead of him.  Five years later (2012), Sodiq was convicted of murdering Sylvester and is now serving a 30-year jail sentence in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.

Guests at the event MP included former professional footballer Andy Ansah who presented the documentaries Wayne Rooney Street Striker and Ronaldo Tested To The Limit, Peter Herbert OBE from The Society of Black Lawyers, world-leading defence advocate Courtenay Griffiths QC from Garden Court Chambers and Psychologist Dr Marie Stewart MBE among others. Following a lively debate chaired by Diane Abbott MP on the law of Joint Enterprise, a form of secondary liability used when prosecuting gang related crime, there were calls for the film to be shown in secondary schools to raise awareness of the issues among young people.

Adeyemi, who also spoke at the event, said he was heartened by the public response: “It never occurred to me that I could craft a film that would be shown in Parliament and affect people’s view of society. And the story’s not nearly over yet. Sodiq’s appeal is yet to be heard. It is a work in progress. An unfinished story... ”

NFTS Head of Documentary Direction Dick Fontaine said: “It’s immensely encouraging that the passionate commitment of a brilliant young filmmaker who is so intimately involved in this deeply troubling case of ‘joint enterprise’ is being listened to by politicians.”

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Pictured above: Diane Abbott, MP, with Adeyemi at the screening.

NFTS Celebrates 21 Years of FDA Sponsorship

FDA Commissions New Anti Piracy Film for Cinemas

Lord Puttnam, President of the Film Distributor’s Association, has announced the renewal of the FDA’s annual sponsorship of the NFTS as well as commissioning the School’s students to make a new anti-piracy film to be shown in UK cinemas 2013.

Speaking to an audience of film exhibitors, distributors, DCMS representatives and NFTS graduates at a party celebrating 21 years of sponsorship from the FDA, Lord Puttnam reeled off a list of successful graduates including Roger Deakins (Cinematographer on recent Bond film Skyfall) and said: “Over the years, the School has developed into the UK’s leading centre for people aspiring top work in film and TV production.”

Lord Puttnam, who is a former Chairman of the NFTS Board, praised both organisations for the longevity, depth and value of their partnership that began in 1992, saying: “Distributors have kept faith with the NFTS all these years precisely because of a commitment to the long-term success of our industry and the people who drive it…If your function is to connect talent with audiences, it makes perfect sense to do all you can to help nurture the next generation of talent- to be instrumental in helping enhance this industry’s capacity to create.”

In 2010, the FDA commissioned NFTS students to make a short film that gave a ‘fresh take on theatrical anti-piracy communications’ and the resulting film – The Last Cinema Directed by Jae-ha Myung – was shown in cinemas across the country. Lord Puttnam applauded the impact of this film on cinema goers, which together with the partnership with FACT, Crimestoppers and a host of suppliers, had created ‘…a step-change in the landscape for UK film distribution.’

Following on from this success, Lord Puttnam announced the launch of new commission and invited NFTS students to pitch their ideas by Spring 2013.

BIFA Award Win for NFTS

Graduation film wins Best British Short Film Award

NFTS graduation film Volume won the award for Best British Short Film at the British Independent Film Awards last night (9th December), in a star-studded ceremony at Old Billingsgate, hosted by actor James Nesbitt.

Nominated alongside 4 other films, Volume was up against another graduation film, Skyborn, which had been shortlisted for a Student Oscar earlier in the year. The film, about an enigmatic girl (played by Anna Brewster) who goes missing, stars upcoming actor and writer Joe Cole. His work includes Skins, Injustice, Now Is Good, and he has most recently worked in partnership with Matt Lucas writing a comedy drama.

Director Mahalia Belo, who directed Volume, was one of Screen International's 2012 Stars of Tomorrow and both her and director Jamie Stone (Skyborn) were snapped up agents Independent Talent earlier in the year.

For behind the scenes pictures, press and news info, and a more detailed synopsis of Volume, visit the filmmakers' website here: . You can also view the trailer in the NFTS screening room.

‘Fresh Meat’ co-writer gives comedy masterclass

Sam Bain reveals genetic link to British comedy classics

One of the UK’s top comedy writer Sam Bain, who co-wrote recent TV hits ‘Fresh Meat’, ‘Rev’ and the BAFTA winning ‘Peep Show’ and film ‘Four Lions’, entertained students at an NFTS Masterclass and explained how comedy was in his blood.  

Listing his comedy heroes as Woody Allen, Bill Murray, The Simpsons, the Office and Fawlty Towers, Sam revealed that one of the old ladies in the John Cleese series ‘Fawlty Towers’ is actually his grandmother, his mother was in sitcom ‘Terry & June’ and  one of his cousins was in 'Allo Allo.’

Sam and his co-writer Jesse Armstrong were recently celebrated by BAFTA for  ‘…writing some of the best British sitcoms and comedy programmes gracing our screens’. Explaining their unconventional approach to comedy, Sam told students: "We like to go to those uncomfortable places, because that's where the good jokes are."

Talking about their series ‘Fresh Meat, he spoke about the need to write more parts for strong female characters because “…there aren't enough female voices in comedy today.”

The comedy powerhouse duo began writing for the Channel 4 sketch show ‘Smack the Pony’ and the children's shows ‘The Queen's Nose’ and ‘My Parents Are Alien’. They went on to create and write ‘Peep Show’, BBC One sitcom ‘The Old Guys’, and most recently Channel 4 comedy-drama ‘Fresh Meat’. They also wrote for the Radio Four sketch show ‘That Mitchell and Webb Sound’, starring Peep Show's two main actors David Mitchell and Robert Webb, and its BBC Two adaptation ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’.

Asked why good screen-writing was so important in comedy, Sam replied:  “In the end, it comes down to that moment on a frosty winter morning when David Mitchell asks you why it's so important that he jump nearly naked into a freezing lake. You need to have a pretty solid explanation.”

Bain and Armstrong received the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award at the British Comedy Awards 2010. In 2012 both Bain and Armstrong were featured on the TV industry journal Broadcast's 'Hot 100' list, highlighting the most successful people in UK television.


NFTS and Goldsmiths’ College to launch innovative Games partnership.

The Games Department at the National Film and Television School and the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths are to launch a ground-breaking partnership that will bring together their different teaching disciplines, skills, facilities and students to produce innovative games.

The new scheme, called Games++, will combine the creative talent from the NFTS’ MA in Games Design and Development with the technical expertise of students from the MSc in Computer Games & Entertainment at Goldsmiths. There is still one place left on the NFTS Games Design and Development course.

NFTS Head of Games Jon Weinbren said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring together the skills and mindsets of Goldsmiths’ talented technical coders with the imaginative storytelling and games design creativity of the NFTS to produce what we expect to be some exciting projects.”

Professor William Latham, co-director and co-founder of the MSc Computer Games and Entertainment at Goldsmiths, commented: “The key to this partnership is our common denominator – a desire to make our programmes flow through into the industry, giving our students the launch pad they need to start successful careers.”

Starting in early 2013, selected students will partner on an original games project of their choice, share skills, attend masterclasses and workshops from industry professionals, plus engage in industry events and, where possible, studio visits. At the end of the programme, they will reveal their projects to a panel of industry experts for feedback.

Funding will be provided for the games via the NFTS graduate project funding scheme. NFTS students will generate the initial ideas and design concepts for the games, bringing in a range of multi-disciplinary talent from across the NFTS’ Film and TV specialisms. The games ideas will be presented to the Computer Games and Entertainment students at Goldsmiths at an early stage, when the cross-institutional partnership teams will be formed.  The NFTS and Goldsmiths leads on each team will then have joint responsibility for further design, development, implementation and delivery within budget and schedule.

Jon Weinbren said the process mirrors best practice from the industry and is the future for creative games development: “This partnership is like two pieces of the jigsaw fitting together. We’re taking our two specialist courses and merging the best each can offer in a way that we believe will bring about a cross fertilisation of minds, skills and creativity to produce next generation games that engage, edify and hopefully amaze.”

Professor Frederic Fol Leymarie, co-director and co-founder of the MSc Computer Games and Entertainment at Goldsmiths, said the new initiative would be of great value to the games industry: "We bring together two postgraduate degrees, both emphasising strong links with the creative industries. By joining our forces we will give our students and industry partners unique opportunities to exchanges knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm for games and for their continuing evolution across multiple disciplines and media and platforms."

Picture taken from 1st year student Albert Bentnall's work on Synthespians: A Virtual Performance Project.

Games industry leaders visit School - just 2 places remaining!

Students learn directly from experts in the business

It has been an incredible week with four of the Games industry’s creative leaders visiting the NFTS this week to tutor students on the Games Design and Development course.

Concept artist Andrew Wildman, who created the VFX sequence storyboards for Doctor Who  and the artwork for the Transformer comics,  Tech Crunch blogger Tadhg Kelly who has worked on games production and design for Microsoft and Sky, Director and Virtual Performance Specialist John Dower (pictured above right with Games student) and Chris Solarski, an artist game designer and author of Drawing Basics and Video Game Art: Classic to Cutting Edge Art Techniques for Winning Video Game Design have been inspiring students working on an Interactive Dramatic Scenes Moments of Consequence. This is a first project brief in which games specialists collaborate with counterparts from the Screenwriting, Producing and Production Design departments in order to make a series of interactive drama sequences.

Tadhg Kelly says it’s vital that games design students learn their craft in a creative environment like the NFTS: “Games development can be an overly internalised culture so it is important to expose students to a wider range of cultural briefs. It is especially important for people developing narrative technique that they be immersed in a place like the NFTS, with such a rich history of film and television.”

NFTS student Richard Cridford, aged 27, who has been tutored by Tadhg, said: “Having visiting  tutors is the reason why I chose to study at the NFTS – it’s a valuable way to meet and connect with interesting people from the industry.”

There are still places available on next year’s Games Design and Development course which starts in January, as well as bursary and scholarship opportunities. Contact the NFTS Games department directly via for more information click here.

NFTS Head of Games Design and Development Jon Weinbren said: “ We are incredibly lucky to have  four such talented figures from the games industry and beyond coming to the NFTS to share their knowledge and help our students. This particular project offers a unique opportunity for the students to create highly innovative work and we really needed to hand-pick these specialist tutors to come in and support it. It’s always our aim to give students advanced skills and contacts they need to get ahead in the industry when they graduate.”

Nfts films bag two of the five BIFA short film nominations...

...and an incredible 48 nfts graduates are involved in 16 BIFA nominated films

Two student graduation films have been nominated for a 2012 British Independent Film Award. Writer/Director Jamie Stone  and Mahalia Belo’s 2012 graduation films Skyborn  and Volume are competing for the Best British Short award against a fellow graduate, the respected Writer/Director Lynne Ramsay, whose film The Swimmer also includes graduate Natasha Braier as DoP.

They are among the 48 graduates involved in an incredible total of 16 films that have been nominated in nine categories this year. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on December 9.

The full list of nominations involving NFTS graduates includes:  

Best Documentary: Carol Morley’s Dreams of a Life (Co-DoP Mary Farbrother; Supervising Sound Editor Christopher Wilson; Sound Recordist Matthew Share); The Imposter (Sound Designer Paul Davies), Kevin MacDonald’s Marley (Co-DoP Alwin Küchler); Julien Temple’s London: The Modern Babylon. The Imposter is also on the list of nominees for the Best British Independent Film where it shares a place with Berberian Sound Studio (Rerecording Mixer Markus Moll), Broken (Assistant Coordinator Hussain Ahmed) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Sound Assistant Michael Taylor) and all of these films have been nominated in the Best Director category. Two of these films - The Imposter and Berberian Sound Studio - are also in the running for the Best Achievement in Production award where they compete with the Vertigo Films production The Sweeney which was produced by Allan Niblo and had Nuala O’Leary also on the crew as Production Supervisor. The contenders for Best International Independent Film includes the Danish film The Hunt (Jagten) which was shot by Charlotte Bruus Christensen; and the Raindance Award nominees include four films with alumni involvement… Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (Editor Gideon Gold; Supervising Sound Designer Dario Swade; Colourist Andre Rusu), Frank (Composer Stuart Earl), Love Tomorrow (Boom Operator Francis Cullen) and City Slacker (Boom Operator Xan Márquez Caneda); My Brother the Devil, which was produced by Gayle Griffiths and has a UK release this week, has received nominations for Best Debut Director (Sally el Hosaini) and Most Promising Newcomer (lead actor James Floyd); the winners will be presented at a ceremony at the Old Billingsgate in London on the 9th December.

Credits for the NFTS films Skyborn and Volume are:

Writer/Director Jamie Stone; Producer Len Rowles; DoP Robin Whenary; Production Designer John Merry; Production Manager Esteban Frost; Editor James Taylor; Composer Graham Hadfield; Sound Recordist Mick Kearney; SFX and Miniature Supervisor Cat Harris; VFX Supervisor/Online Editor/Grade Helen Brownell; Boom Operator Sherylee Anne Houssein; Sound Designer Jens Rosenlund Petersen; Miniatures Set Designer Bianca Ansems;

Director/Story Mahalia Belo; Story/Writer Ingeborg Topsøe; Producer Casey Herbert; DoP Chloë Thomson; Composer Jonathan Hill; Designer Laura Tarrant-Brown; Production Manager Darren Crisp; Editor Arttu Salmi; SFX Supervisor David Jacobs; Location Sound Mixer Nina Rice; Boom Operators Liam Cotter & Mick Kearney;  Sound Designer Axle Kith Cheeng; Online Editor/Grade Robin Blick.

Skillset Top Marks

The NFTS has the most Creative Skillset accredited courses in the UK.

The NFTS has had more courses accredited by Creative Skillset than any other Higher Education institution in the UK.  14 of the School’s courses have been awarded Creative Skillset Ticks -  an industry kite-mark that identifies courses endorsed by employers for the quality of training.

Funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, via the Growth and Innovation Fund, the latest accreditation scheme was run between October 2011 – September 2012 and  involved rigorous assessment by industry practitioners of 156 courses from 27 institutions across 12 subject areas.

NFTS Director, Nik Powell said: “We are delighted to have the most Creative Skillset accredited courses of any higher education institution in the UK. This recognition speaks volumes about the high calibre students we attract, the award winning production work the students produce, the transformational teaching our tutors provide and the success of our graduates.”

In its 2012 report, the Creative Industries Council Creative Skillset Skills Group recommended that the criteria and standard required to receive industry accreditation should be raised to ensure that only courses delivering industry relevant training whilst building partnerships with business were awarded The Tick.

David Abraham, Chief Executive of Channel 4 and Creative Skillset Board member, said: “The Creative Skillset Tick is an essential signpost that helps potential students choose courses that are approved by industry. It tells them the course has gone through thorough assessment, including a review of graduate employment, work experience and links with industry, which contribute to improved employment prospects on completion of the course”.

Details of courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick can be found at

Sky partner with NFTS for new course

Sky and NFTS to offer new broadcast production course.

Sky and the National Film and Television School (NFTS) have announced a new partnership, which will train a new generation of multi-camera studio craft specialists to work in their expanding studio operation.

This unique Broadcast Production course, run in collaboration with Sky’s Broadcast Operations department, will prepare 12 students a year to work in a multi-camera studio environment as a Vision Mixer, a Camera/ Lighting or Sound specialist. Modules will be taught at both the NFTS and Sky Studios, Sky’s state-of-the-art production facility. The course will also include a six-week internship at Sky, culminating in a paid role for at least one graduate each year.

Students will experience working across a range of genres and programming, including scripted comedy and entertainment, as well as multi-platform production. The award seeks to teach students the language of entertainment television so that they can work effectively within production teams, as well as develop a high level technical understanding of their chosen specialist area and a critical awareness of the production workflow and the impact of multiplatform on production.

Sophie Turner Laing, MD of Entertainment, News and Broadcast Operations at Sky, and board member of NFTS said: “Sky’s ongoing commitment to homegrown, original content is not just about what we put on screen – it’s about investing in the next generation of production specialists in the UK. We’re extremely proud of the work we do at Sky to nurture our people, and it’s shown us just how much the UK creative industries need to identify the rising stars of all areas of broadcasting as early as possible.  There is no better place to do that than at the NFTS, and we’re delighted to partner with them to start that process with this broadcast production course.”

The course is led by NFTS Head of TV David G Croft (Shooting Stars, Crystal Maze, Live Aid) and other tutors may include Richard Boden (IT Crowd) Geoff Posner (Little Britain) and Steve Pinhay (SMTV, CD:UK).

David G Croft said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for a new generation of rising TV stars to learn the core disciplines of multi camera studio operations - hotly in demand in the industry. It’s a real sign of Sky’s commitment to entertainment programming in the UK that they are willing to train a new generation of behind the camera TV talent.”

The 12-month Diploma course starts in February 2013, costs £7,000 and the deadline for applications is 3rd December 2012.

Entry Requirements. A proven interest in multi-camera production, a lively interest in television and a willingness to work as part of a team are essential. We are looking for people who are practically minded and who have a good general education although there are no specific educational requirements for this course.

For more information visit the Broadcast Production Diploma page.