Our credits tell the story.

NFTS Launches Directing Workshop

Confirms initiatives to increase number of diverse directors

(Pictured: Ralitza Petrova, NFTS Directing Fiction graduate winning the Golden Leopard at Locarno International Film Festival in 2016 for Godless)

London, 16th January 2017: The National Film and Television School (NFTS) announces that the ‘NFTS Directing Workshop’ is now open for applications and will take place in the summer 2017. The scheme is aimed at increasing the number of women and people from BAME backgrounds and those with disabilities working professionally in screen directing.

There will initially be six places available on the pilot workshop with a view to extending to 12 in future. Participants will start with a two-day introductory session in March followed by intensive training in narrative filmmaking in an innovative, four-week workshop during the summer, which will result in the production of a short film. All participants are guaranteed an interview for the NFTS’ prestigious and highly competitive Directing Fiction MA.

The NFTS will cover all production costs and will facilitate inter-School networking to help crew the films across all disciplines from producing to editing and sound.

The workshop is a part of the initiatives announced at the NFTS’ annual fundraising Gala in 2016, which celebrated Great British Women and includes a mentorship programme for all female students on the NFTS’ four MA courses in directing.

Nik Powell, director of NFTS says: “It is extremely important that filmmakers represent the society that they reflect and to this end we want our student population to be as diverse as possible, particularly in screen directing. We need to hear from all voices and perspectives to ensure the viewing audience is fairly represented and to this end, I am extremely pleased to announce the NFTS Directing Workshop and the commitment to ensure our ambitions for this programme are realised.”

For more information, and to apply for the NFTS Directing Workshop, please visit https://nfts.co.uk/directing-workshop

-Ends-

Contact for further information:

Press: Vicky Hewlett, Head of PR and Communications, NFTS: VHewlett@nfts.co.uk

From Rogue One to Fantastic Beasts

NFTS Grads Credited on the Highly Anticipated TV & Movie Hits of the Year!

The next 'must-watch' film from the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes to our screens in the UK on December 15th! No fewer than seven NFTS graduates have worked on the film including Visual Effects Producer Ben Lock; Art Directors including Stephen Swain; Junior Draughtsman Olivia Muggleton; Boom Operator Michael Lee Taylor; First Assistant Editor Tom Harrison-Read and Generalist Lead for ILM, John Seru. If you dream of working in visual effects on movies like this, there are still a few places still remaining on our Digital Effects MA, which starts in January 2017 - more info here

Set shortly before the events of ‘A New Hope’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ reveals how the Rebellion got their hands on the designs for the Death Star. The Galactic Empire is at the height of its power, and their ultimate weapon is nearly complete. Along with a team of rebel soldiers, former criminal Jyn Erso sets out on a desperate mission to steal the plans so they can figure out how to destroy it. 

Hugely anticipated new movie and spin-off of the Harry Potter film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is directed by NFTS alumnus, David Yates. Yates is best known for directing the final four Harry Potter films and graduated from the National Film and Television School Directing Fiction MA in 1992. On reading J.K Rowling’s script for Fantastic Beasts, Yates commented in a recent interview: “[…] it was just the most delightful read. It was charming, moving, tender. It felt fresh and it was with a bunch of people that I really love working with so, it was a bit of a no-brainer.”

Fantastic Beasts stars Eddie Redmayne and is set in the wizarding world in 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction of No-Majs (American for Muggles) bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away… and is now nowhere to be found. Other NFTS alumni credited include:

Huw Arthur, Standby Art Director; James M Spencer, Draughtsman; Ivor Talbot, Sound Mixer: Second Unit; Robert Malone, Sound Design Editor and Zach du Toit, Pre-vis/Generalist TD.

A Street Cat Named Bob is another movie that is set to attract big audiences and also credits an NFTS grad, this time on Production Design. Antonia Lowe who graduated from studying a Production Design MA at the NFTS in 2011 is credited as Production Designer on the movie, which stars Luke Treadaway and is based on the international best-selling book of the same name. A Street Cat Named Bob is the true story of how James Bowen, a busker and recovering drug addict, had his life transformed when he met a stray ginger cat.

NFTS grads are also working on the second series of hit TV drama, Humans. Lewis Arnold returns as director of the first two episodes and composing graduate, Sarah Warne composed the score for the BAFTA nominated series.

The latest Marvel movie, Dr Strange, which is out now and stars Benedict Cumberbatch features a whole host of NFTS alumni including:

Gary Jopling, Assistant Art Director; Yasmin Al-Naib, Assistant Stand-by Art Director; Rebecca Gibson, Production Assistant: Additional Photography; Caroline Houghton, Assistant Production Co-ordinator: Additional Photography; Isona Rigau, Draughtsperson and Alexander Toomey, Draughtsperson.

And last but not least, the next big drama to be launched on Netflix, The Crown, also benefits from a large number of NFTS grads. The show is a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and is scheduled to be released in its entirety on November 4, 2016. Alumni include:

Una Ni Dhonghaile, Editor (selected episodes) who has also just won an IFTA award for Best Editor; Stuart Hilliker, Sound Re-recording Mixer; Martin Jensen, Re-recording Mixer; Jorge Canada Escorihuela, Additional VFX Supervisor: On Set (3eps), Victor Tomi, Digital Compositor (5 eps).

If you would like to follow in our graduates' footsteps, there are still places available on courses starting in January 2017 ranging from Film Studies, Programming and Curation; Marketing, Distribution, Sales and Exhibition, Graphics & Titles for Film and Television, and Digital Effects.

Film Studies Students Curate ‘Best Short Films of the Year’ Competition

Audiences Invited to Watch, Judge and Decide!

National Film and Television School Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA students have applied their specialist skills to curate the upcoming ‘Best Short Films of the Year’ competition with ODEON (places are still available for this exciting MA course starting end January 2017 – more information on how to apply here). The competition takes place on January 17th 2017 at 8pm in 16 ODEON cinemas across the UK, to showcase the next generation of talented filmmakers and comprises a selection of seven NFTS students’ short films, the majority of which have won or been nominated for major awards.

The live action and animation films will be simultaneously screened in the 16 ODEON cinemas (see full list of locations below). Audiences will be asked to get involved and ‘watch, judge and decide’ to pick their favourite film.

The Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA is delivered in partnership with the BFI to prepare students to build successful careers in film exhibition, programming, criticism or archival work. Curating programmes such as the ‘Best Short Films of the Year’ competition is just one example of the broad range of curatorial and critical skills that the students learn. The running order chosen is as follows:

Sweet Maddie Stone (Fiction: Director/ Co-writer, Brady Hood; Producer, Jake Riley-Hunte)

15-year-old Maddie Stone rules her school yard under the protection of her family name. But after discovering her notorious father has been arrested, she has to make his bail money or lose the yard. The more Maddie fights, the more her world spirals out of control – and the closer she gets to becoming the man she’s trying to save.

Fishwitch (Animation: Director, Adrienne Dowling; Producer, Helene Sifre)

Tooega is a witch who ekes out an isolated existence on an iceberg. It’s a miserable lot, and in Tootega’s case, misery hates company! Derek is a merman – more fish than man really – who spends his days joyously rollicking around the ocean, oblivious to the fact that his dreadful singing is the very reason he remains friendless. Fishwitch is the story of what happens when these two unlikely characters come together…

Ferris & The Fancy Pigeon (Documentary: Director/ Writer, James Gardner; Producer, Helene Sifre)

When Ferris, a teenage boy with a passion for fancy pigeons, leaves school, his father finds him a job at the local factory. Ferris goes along with his father’s plan until the day the school bully he thought he’d left behind confronts him. Ferris abandons his post and the punishment his father exercises forces Ferris to finally face up to some difficult home truths.

A Love Story (Animation: Director, Anushka Naanayakkara, Producer, Khaled Gad)

Two creatures fall in love, weaving a colourful world together. But when darkness threatens to consume one of them, the other must fight to stay together, or risk being torn apart. 

Present (Fiction: Director & Co-Writer, Meg Campbell; Producer Ser En Low)

With her sister slowly succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer’s, Beth struggles to balance her responsibilities as a carer and a mother, whilst dealing with her own fear of developing the genetic disease.

The Alan Dimension (Animation: Director & Co-writer, Jac Clinch; Producer, Millie Marsh)

The divine gift of precognition has been bestowed to a human. That human…is Alan. But Alan’s gift isn’t all it’s cracked up to be - he can barely foresee what’s for breakfast. And now the only person on earth who understands Alan is packing her bags to leave – Wendy has had enough of being married to ‘mankind’s next step in cognitive evolution’. Will Alan realise in time that seeing the future has blinded him to his present?

Patriot (Fiction: Director/ Writer, Eva Riley; Producer, Michelangelo Fano)

Hannah loves her Dad and always wants to be seen next to him. But during the preparations for an anti-immigration protest at her house she is pushed out, being seen as too young. Hannah meets a teenage Romany boy and does her best to push him away but the boy won’t leave her alone, leading to consequences which turn her world upside down.

Commenting on how they devised the programme, MA student, Roberto Gonzalez said: “We considered the themes dealt with by the films and decided to start with Sweet Maddie Stone, which deals with social issues and adolescence. We followed with FishWitch, which portrays the same theme of outcasts through an animated/fantasy prism, while Ferris and the Fancy Pigeon continues the outcast theme to a degree. A Love Story offers a sort of ‘break’ before transitioning into Present, which deals with the serious subject of dementia, and then followed that with The Alan Dimension, which also deals with the psyche but in a more uplifting way. Patriot was chosen to round out the programme as it deals with similar social issues to Sweet Maddie Stone leaving the audience with a powerful message.

This is the first time that these films have been shown to the general public and ODEON is the only major European cinema chain to support new filmmakers in this way. A specially commissioned trailer* will be shown at ODEON cinemas across the UK from Monday 21st November featuring a voiceover by Ashton Smith whose voice is synonymous with global feature film campaigns from the likes of Fox and Sony.

The competition is part of a partnership between the NFTS and ODEON, which has become the School’s first platinum cinema sponsor. ODEON is working with the school’s Board, tutors and students to support the school in a wide variety of new initiatives including an annual student scholarship.

Tickets are on sale now on the Odeon website where you can also watch the trailer.

The Odeon cinema screenings will be held in these locations:

Birmingham New St.

Blackpool

Bristol

Cardiff

London, Panton Street

Edinburgh Lothian Rd

Glasgow Quay

Kingston

Liverpool One

Manchester Printworks

Milton Keynes Stadium

Newcastle Silverlinks  

Norwich

Oxford

Sheffield

Southampton

*NFTS Trailer Credits:

Duncan Bruce, Editor (NFTS graduate)

Steven Boneham, Producer

Anna MacDonald, Cinematography (NFTS student)

Stuart Earl, Composer (NFTS graduate)

Ashton Smith, VO Artiste

 

Project Selected for Second NFTS/ BBC Films ‘Greenlight’ Short

The Bind by BAFTA-Winning Producing Grad Caroline Bartleet

(Pictured: Rebecca Morgan & Caroline Bartleet picking up the BAFTA for Best British Short Fiction for Operator in 2016)

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) announces that The Bind has been chosen as the second short film to be made under the BBC Films and NFTS Greenlight Short Project.

The Greenlight Short Project is a joint venture between BBC Films and the National Film and Television School to fund one short film a year for three years made by recent NFTS graduates.

The Bind has been conceived by NFTS Producing MA graduate, Caroline Bartleet and is inspired by a true story.

Caroline's first short film as writer/director, Operator, stars Kate Dickie and Vicky McClure. The film premiered at the London Film Festival where it was nominated for the Short Film Award. Since then it has gone on to play at numerous festivals around the world. Operator won the BAFTA for British Short Film in 2016.

Caroline said the following after hearing that her film idea had been selected: “I am so pleased that my film has been chosen for such a prestigious project; working with BBC Films is a fantastic opportunity and I can’t wait to start production.”

Acting Head of BBC Films, Joe Oppenheimer: “Caroline is an impressive and talented filmmaker and we’re thrilled to be able to support her exciting new project through our ‘Greenlight’ scheme with the NFTS.”  

National Film and Television School director, Nik Powell said: “We are extremely pleased to continue our partnership with the BBC; The Greenlight Short Project is an excellent opportunity for our graduates. The BBC has long been a big champion of new talent, especially at the NFTS, and we are hugely appreciative of this as is Caroline who has an extremely bright future ahead!”

The Bind is the second short film to be made as part of the Greenlight project following Diagnosis which was written and directed by Eva Riley and produced by Emilie Jouffroy whose NFTS graduation films, Edmond (directed by Nina Gantz) and Patriot won the Short Animation BAFTA and competed for the short film Palme D’Or in Cannes 2015 respectively.

Contact for further information:

Vicky Hewlett, Head of PR and Communications, NFTS: VHewlett@nfts.co.uk

Sir Richard Branson Endorses Entrepreneur MA

“This Course is a Terrific Idea!”

Virgin founder and entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, has given the National Film and Television School’s Creative Business for Entrepreneurs and Executives a ringing endorsement in a recent article on the Virgin website.

In the article, Sir Richard talks about how he and co-founder, Nik Powell – now director of the NFTS - shaped the Virgin business and learned: “entrepreneurship each day, making up new ways of running businesses as we went. We didn’t have a rulebook, but it we did, we would have ripped it up. Whether it was marketing, advertising, design, product or customer service, we learned new things every day – it was either adapt and survive, or stand still and fail. It was the best entrepreneurial education possible.”

Sir Richard believes that there are too few opportunities for young people to learn ‘in entrepreneurial ways’ and believes you can ‘learn entrepreneurship.’

“With that in mind, Nik set up the NFTS’ new course in creative business for entrepreneurs and executives, with the vision of helping students to design and build the media companies of the future. We need a new generation of makers and doers in all sectors, especially in the creative industries. The course, which is unique in Europe, will allow students to gain hands-on, practical knowledge and build the tools they need to create their own businesses and opportunities.”

About the MA:

The Creative Business MA helps students develop and launch a business with the support of the UK’s most successful business leaders. Participants gain access to and are uniquely taught by over 100 key influencers from the worlds of publishing, theatre, games, film, television, music and digital entertainment. Their insights are invaluable for the students and place them at an advantage in the flourishing world of creative business.

In addition to the students developing a viable business by the end of the course, they are also required to attempt to raise money to fund it. This is a unique requirement for an MA of this kind and parallels other NFTS courses where students make films, TV programmes or games, which are eligible for Oscar and BAFTA nominations, optioned for development by industry giants like Warner Brothers or developed for distribution on platforms like Stream. 

Nik Powell, NFTS director says: “The UK continues to be a huge success story when it concerns the creative industries and we are proud that our graduates continue to play a key part in this.  Our new Creative Business MA for Entrepreneurs and Executives capitalises on this success and ensures that we focus not only on creativity and storytelling but also on developing our students’ business acumen and entrepreneurship.”

Chris Auty, NFTS’ Head of Producing says: “Building business capacity in the creative industries is vital to future competitiveness in the UK. We need more entrepreneurs, financiers and managers who truly understand the creative process as well as business and commerce and this course will make a significant contribution to achieving these goals.” 

The Creative Business MA is supported by major media investors Ingenious, law firm Lee & Thompson and accountancy firm Saffery Champness.

Don’t miss our Facebook Live open day on Monday 28th November at 1pm – visit the NFTS Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NFTSFilmTV/ to take part.

For more information and to apply for this course, which starts in January 2017, please visit https://www.nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/creative-business-entrepreneurs-executives

NFTS Grad Wins Deluxe Director Award

Anne Marie Duff Presents Honour at Women In Film & TV Awards

NFTS Directing Fiction graduate and director of Suffragette, Sarah Gavron, has won The Deluxe Director Award at the 26th annual Women In Film & Television Awards, which took place on Friday 2nd December 2016. The award was presented to Sarah by Suffragette star, Anne Marie Duff.

The Deluxe Director Award recognises outstanding achievement by a woman director in film, TV or digital media across entertainment, comedy or drama within the last two years.

The jury, which was chaired by Briony Hanson, Director of Film, British Council, said the following about the decision to present the award to Sarah:

“Happily the jury had much to choose from this year and there was some animated discussion as we deliberated – but at the end of the day there was only one way we could go as all roads led to Sarah Gavron. That she took such a vital real life event (and it’s surely not too grand a statement to say that for everyone in this room it’s probably THE most important event of the 20th century) and made it feel accessible, contemporary, alive and truthful as a drama, is a testament to her extraordinary skills as a director. She conducted a cast to give the very best they had, lifted a beautiful script off the page, and brought London and its place in this story vividly to life for a wide and receptive audience. “

Kate Kinninmont MBE, Chief Executive of Women in Film & TV said, “In the year when Directors UK published their report, Cut Out of the Picture, showing that there has been no real improvement in the hiring of women directors in British film over the past ten years, it was a joy to see Sarah Gavron’s brilliant work on Suffragette being recognised at our Awards Lunch with The Deluxe Director Award. Sarah not only brought to the screen a hugely important story about women, she also provided wonderful parts for women, as well as ensuring that a great many women were employed at every level behind the cameras. More power to her!”

Nik Powell, NFTS Director, said: “We are incredibly proud of Sarah’s achievement in winning this important award. The NFTS is taking inspiration from Sarah and her peers to build the number of successful women filmmakers and we are looking forward to implementing the initiatives we announced at our Gala, which took place in June and celebrated Great British Women, to help make this happen.”

For more information, please visit www.nfts.co.uk and www.wftv.org.uk

 

 

NFTS Appoints Experienced Documentary Maker

Peter Dale to Co-Head NFTS Directing Documentary MA

London, 6th January 2017: The National Film and Television School announces it has appointed experienced documentary maker Peter Dale as Co-Head of its Directing Documentary MA. Peter will be working on a part-time basis alongside Dick Fontaine who has lead the Documentary MA at the NFTS for over twenty years.

Peter started as a television film editor and directed his first documentary for BBC One in 1980. He went on to produce and direct documentaries at the BBC for the next 18 years. In 1998 he went to Channel 4 to become Head of Documentaries where he took the opportunity to commission a good number of NFTS graduates, including Kim Longinotto, Nick Broomfield and Molly Dineen. In 2005 he conceived and launched More4, Channel 4’s third digital channel. And in September 2008 set up his own independent production company, Rare Day, dedicated to producing quality documentary and drama for broadcasters and other distributors.

In addition to his new role at the NFTS Peter is also the Executive Producer on a number of high-profile television projects including a new Louis Theroux documentary with the BBC.

Peter says: “I’m really excited to be joining the documentary team at the NFTS whose reputation is second to none. I’m looking forward to the challenge of preparing these talented young people for the outside world, particularly since documentary story-telling is now in such demand and spread across a vast horizon of modern media.”

Nik Powell, NFTS Director says: “We are delighted to have Peter on-board to co-head our Directing Documentary MA, which is one of our most popular courses. His experience speaks for itself and the fact that he is continuing to work on a number of exciting projects while at the NFTS will be fantastic insight for the students.”

For more information on the two-year Directing Documentary MA, please visit https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/directing-documentary .

ENDS

Contact for further information:

Vicky Hewlett, Head of PR and Communications, NFTS: VHewlett@nfts.co.uk

Tech Giant Challenges Film School with VR Project

NFTS Teams Up with AMD

London, 6th December 2016: The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is teaming up with leading graphics processor manufacturer, AMD, to deliver a series of Virtual Reality projects as part of the school’s Bridges to Industry scheme.

NFTS students and recent graduates will be among the first in the UK to access AMD’s latest Radeon™ Pro WX7100 graphic cards, which are capable of developing and driving VR experiences at a high fidelity level. The students and recent alumni will be invited to pitch and develop three projects for AMD:

1 - An interactive and immersive VR experience for Oculus or HTC headsets using real-time rendered 3D computer graphics.

2 - A 360˚ video project of up to 3 minutes that entertains and inspires.

3 – A topical, short film of up to 3 minutes on the impact of Augmented Reality (AR).

AMD plans to give the selected concepts wide exposure and show them at events around the world such as FMX, the International Animation, Effects, VR, Games and Transmedia Conference, which takes place between the 2nd and 5th of May 2017 in Stuttgart.

Says Nik Powell, NFTS Director: “Filmmakers, television producers and games developers are all exploring the possibilities presented by 360 video, VR and AR as well as the creative and technical challenges in producing something that genuinely makes use of the additional level of viewer interaction. This series of projects set by AMD is a fantastic opportunity for our students and graduates to explore these new technologies and think differently about how a story can be told.”

“We are delighted to support this new initiative to combine our technological expertise with NFTS students’ and graduates’ expertise in storytelling” says Roy Taylor, CVP at AMD and Chairman, BAFTA VR Advisory Group. “We believe storytelling is the key to the success of these new technologies which is why it’s so important to work with a prestigious, creative institution like the NFTS.  We look forward to seeing the results.”

Applications are still open for the NFTS MA in Games Design & Development and the MA in Digital Effects – deadline for applying is January 4th 2017 and the courses commence at the end of January 2017. For more information on how to apply, please visit www.nfts.co.uk

Contact for further information:

Vicky Hewlett, Head of PR and Communications, NFTS: VHewlett@nfts.co.uk

VR entrepreneur supports Creative Business MA

Watch our Facebook Live Q&A

If you are a budding entrepreneur like our Creative Business alumna Jip Samhoud, don't miss our Facebook Live open day on the Creative Business for Entrepreneurs and Exectutives MA on Wednesday 17th September at 1.30pm with NFTS Head of Producing, Chris Auty. The MA is open for applications until October 16th 2017.

The two-year MA -- which students can combine with part-time professional work -- starts in January 2018 and gives students all the tools to create the media businesses of the future (across Publishing, Theatre, Games, Film, Television, Music and Online). It’s taught by over 100 major players from across the creative industries, and is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to build your new business and be helped to set up the financing for it – while on the course!

Recent course alumni include Jip Samhoud, a world-class entrepreneur.

After originally creating an online fashion and news TV service, Jip decided to dive into the world of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). As well as creating pop up VR cinemas in Europe including the first fully permanent VR cinema in Holland, Jip seized the commercial opportunities of VR/AR with both hands.

His marketing and branding agency – called simply &SAMHOUUD – recently launched a promotional campaign for Albert Heijn -- Holland’s largest supermarket group. Using QR codes tied to supermarket tokens, the campaign led kids on an animated AR journey of dinosaur discovery -- delivering educational value for children while at the same time becoming the most successful online promotion in Dutch retailing history.

If you want to see Jip talking about his business and his time at the NFTS, just click here and to visit his website, please visit www.samhoudmedia.com

And if you want to join us and find out more, just log in with us on Facebook Live, Wednesday 27th September 1.30pm, for our CBEE Entrepreneur Open Day, or follow this link to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NFTSFilmTV/

Top five reasons to apply:

1 – get mentored by the leading experts in the music, theatre, games, publishing and advertising industries

2 – build an address book of top contacts to help you and your business thrive

3 – guidance and support for your business plan

4 – access to finance and investors plus develop your pitching skills

5 – still have time to run your business while on the course

Applications are open until October 16th 2017 and the two-year MA starts in January 2018.

 

NFTS Welcomes Multi Award-Winning Playwright David Hare

“It’s exhilarating how words and images come together”

Sir David Hare delivered an inspiring and memorable masterclass to the students in conversation with NFTS Head of Short Courses, Peter Ansorge, focussing on the art of screenwriting.

The double Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning director and playwright, Sir David Hare’s work encompasses theatre, film & TV.  His screenplays for The Hours and The Reader were both nominated for Oscars & BAFTAs; he won the Berlin Golden Bear for Wetherby and a BAFTA for his TV drama Licking Hitler, while his play, Skylight, won the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award.  His latest film, Denial, Holocaust denial courtroom drama starring Rachel Weisz, will be released in January 2017 and his current play, The Red Barn is at the Lyttelton until January 2017. 

David was accompanied by his wife, Nicole Farhi CBE, a fashion designer and sculptor, and actress, Sabine Haudepin, who is known for her role as Sabine, ‘la petite’ in Jules et Jim.

David set up the session by asking the audience to close their eyes and imagine a desert island, an islander and a boat and then project that vision onto the cinema screen. “Every one of you will have something different painted in your mind and this is the issue that a screenwriter has to deal with as there is the illusion that the film already exists. There is only one thing you have to bear in mind as a writer; the film does not exist but everyone involved with the film sees something different, which is why the screenwriter’s job is so difficult as everyone thinks they are imagining the same thing but they are not.”

David counselled the students to expect the initial reaction to a screenplay to be one of disappointment because the director or producer may have thought it would be something else. He explained that the screenwriter’s task is to “negotiate and expose what you think the film is to people so it reaches the screen in its best possible form.

According to David, the screenwriter often has to spend more time defending the script than writing it! However, he countered that “there is also often extremely valuable input from every section of the filmmaking process including some genius ideas that will make the film better than you could imagine.” With regards to advice, “you should follow this simple rule: Only take advice from someone who is committing their own integrity and name to what will be on screen. If someone has the courage to invest in something you have written, they have a right to try and influence it.”

On directors, David had the following to say: “Great directors are collaborators and open to suggestions from every department.” He gave the example of Stephen Daldry who invited him into the cutting room: “Screenwriters do the same thing as editors. We order the thoughts and feelings that the audience responds to and consider the movement of the film in the same way. Cinema is all about the way in which words are mixed with images.”

To illustrate this, David reminded the students of one of the most famous movie scenes of all time when character, Mr Bernstein recalls a girl in a white dress in Citizen Kane. This scene doesn’t require a flashback as the speech stimulates the audience’s imagination.

David continued on the power of words: “Language is one of the elements that can make a film memorable and exciting and something the audience can remember for the rest of their lives. It’s exhilarating how words and images come together.”

Screenwriters need to develop and hone the skill to get information across without the audience knowing. They do this by hiding information so that the audience picks things up without realising it. “The minute the audience becomes aware that information is being pushed at them, you’ve lost the battle.”

Plausibility is also a vital issue to resolve. “In literature, things are often so well written, it never occurs to the reader how unlikely the storyline was. In cinema, you have to confront that implausibility as the audience knows that the film is cheating as you decide to show some things and not others. The audience either accepts or rejects the cut.” When writing the screenplay for Damage, David went through a rigorous process with director, Louis Malle whereby Louis constantly asked David to tell him the story of the film and answer any plausibility issues. “Whilst this was a really painful process, it was incredibly valuable as once you understand the structure and there are no questions that can’t be answered, the plot becomes impermeable.”

According to David, the reason why long form TV series are so popular at the moment is because the audience isn’t familiar with the format. Turning to the students, David said: “You need to come up with new formulas to add anything to the art of screenwriting and I expect you all to be doing this in future!”

If you would like to come along to masterclasses like this, we have a number of courses with places available to start in January 2017. These include a Diploma in Graphics & Titles for Film & Television, Cameras, Sound and Vision Mixing for Television Production, a Masters in Digital Effects, Film Studies, Programming and Curation and Marketing for Film, TV and Games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pages