Model Making Students Recreate Sets from The Shining

Our new Model Making for Animation Diploma students have well and truly settled in and have been impressing everyone at the School with their amazing recreated sets from iconic film, The Shining. We caught up with Model Making course leader, John Lee to find out more. In addition to running the course, John is an experienced and active model maker in the industry and has created models for films such as Frankenweenie, Fantastic Mr Fox and Isle of Dogs and while developing the course, he was busy working on the upcoming, highly anticipated new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, which is due for release on the 15th December.”

(Second set from The Shining recreated by the students)

What is the process the students have gone through to make the model of the Shining set?

“Firstly, we screened the film and took frame grabs from two scenes and from those pictures, we created drawings and then worked out the scale from that information. The scale we decided to use was 1:6 because it’s a useful scale for stop frame animation models. It’s not the only scale animators use but it’s a good general scale to make detailed, accurate model sets and puppets and it looks good on camera.”

(Iconic scene from The Shining)

Why did you choose The Shining?

“I happen to really like the film; it’s iconic and it’s a film you can watch repeatedly and get something different out of it each time. Both the imagery and the production design are outstanding; I thought it would make two nice model sets.”

(Students learning how to use the laser cutter)

What techniques did they need to use/ learn?

“The students have had to learn a whole host of new techniques including how to use a wide range of industry standard machinery in our new purpose built workshop. They have learnt machining techniques on equipment such as a lathe, panel/ circular/ band or wall saws and pillar drills plus moulding and casting. The School has never had the benefit of this kind of equipment before and this as well as the Model Making students’ skills should dramatically speed up the whole filmmaking process.”

What were the challenges and how did the students overcome them?

“The challenges the students have had to overcome include learning to work accurately and respect the scale so nothing looks out of place. The purpose of The Shining build was to try and reproduce that live action set accurately at 1:6 and the level of detail necessary to make things look real. They had to accurately recreate the props, the paint finishing and achieve practical lighting so all those things come together to make the shot look real. This will really help the students when they start work on the NFTS graduation films next year as they’ve already experienced making something at that scale with that level of detail.”

What’s next for the students?

“The students have now started a two-month puppet making module. Each student will make a stop frame animated puppet based on their own design. Watch this space for more updates and photos!”

For more information about the NFTS Model Making for Animation Diploma, please visit


NFTS Grad Film Wins 2017 Grierson Award!

17 Alumni Credited Across 4 Winning Categories

(Fawzia Mahmood (Acta Non Verba Producer), Yvann Yagchi (Director) and Aurora Vögeli (Editor))

Congratulations to NFTS Directing Documentary graduate, Yvann Yagchi whose graduation documentary, Acta Non Verba has won a prestigious Grierson Award for Best Student Documentary! Additionally, seven NFTS alumni are credited across three further winning categories including Best Arts Documentary, Best Science Documentary and Best Documentary Series making 17 alumni credits in total across the four awards.

The judges described Acta Non Verba as “a masterful piece of filmmaking with a great score (composed by NFTS Composing graduate, Segun Akinola) and more layers than a Russian doll.”

Written, directed and shot by Yvann Yagchi, Acta Non Verba is an exploration of grief and suicide and the relationship between a father and a son. Producer, Fawzia Mahmood; Writers: Fiction, Kerri Davenport-Burton; Cinematography: Fiction, Thomas Doran; Production Manager, Sonia Hoogenstraaten, Production Manaer: Fiction, Daniella Rice; Editor, Aurora Vögeli; Sound Recordist, Hosea Ntaborwa; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Morgan Muse; Composer, Segun Akinola.)

Two other NFTS graduation documentaries were nominated for the same award including Chomo (directed, shot and produced by Maayan Arad) and Pride In Rags (directed, shot and produced by Tom Whitaker) and this was the seventh year running that the NFTS had the most films selected in student documentary section.

In addition, a further seven NFTS graduates are credited on three winning categories including:

Best Arts Documentary for Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories, which is written, directed and edited by NFTS alumnus, Nick Willing and produced by NFTS alumnus, Michele Camarda. The judges said: “A wonderfully intimate and human film which managed to capture the essence of the artist and their personal life with great art.”

Best Science Documentary for Forces of Nature with Brian Cox Episode 2 (NFTS credits include: Supervising Sound Editor, Jay Price; Sound, Andy Paddon). The judges praised the documentary as “confident and inspiring TV.”

Best Documentary Series for Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (NFTS credits include: Editors, Simon Sykes; Nick Fenton and Sunshine Jackson). The judges described the documentary as: “bold and timeless series offering perspective that was unprecedented in rawness and humanity.”

For more information on the National Film and Television School, please visit



NFTS to Live-Stream TV Show for the Insta-Generation: ‘Two Girls One Flat’

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is to live-stream brand new TV show, Two Girls One Flat on weekdays from Friday, November 10th to Thursday, November 16th at 5pm. The format has been developed by its first year Television Entertainment MA students and is a must-watch magazine show for social media junkies.

(Kathryn Goldsmith & Jessica Woods)

The show will be presented by Jessica Woods – YouTube presenter and actress (The Bill; Doctors; Code of a Killer; played Erica in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium) - and Kathryn Goldsmith - presenter, model and actress (Post Human: An Event; Sariel) - and will centre around two flat mates who talk about the latest art, music and culture trending on social media:

“Welcome to the top floor of late night. A personal edition of arts and culture culled and curated by your two new best friends. If there ever was a time TV needed a new late night magazine show, it was years ago... but we're here now!”

(Fitness online coach, Fiayo Okunribido)

Many of the guests will be social media stars from YouTube, Twitter and Instagram such as Russian calligrapher, Maria Shtelle who has over 3600 followers on Instagram; journalist, Ivan Radford (@iflicks on Twitter); director and photographer, Malia James; poet, Rakaya Fetuga, health and fitness online coach, Fiayo Okunribido; entrepreneur and fashion designer, Laura Jane; and food stylist, @julietalucca. There will be a different band performing on each episode including Demob Happy and Freeze the Atlantic; and a ‘news of the day’ feature called ‘What do you meme?’

(BAFTA-Winning Sound Engineer Eddy Joseph)

Show one will feature a chat with BAFTA-winning sound engineer, Eddy Joseph who won a BAFTA for Best Sound for both Casino Royale and Pink Floyd: The Wall. He also created the sounds for Quidditch in the Harry Potter films!

Two Girls One Flat will be from the NFTS at 17:00 every weekday from the 10th to 16th November 2017. For more information, follow @2Girls1Flat on Twitter. There is also a Twitch channel and a customized Snapchat filter available throughout the week the show is broadcast. Stream live here. To apply for the Directing and Producing Television Entertainment MA, please visit 


7 NFTS Grads Nominated for BIFA 2017 Awards!

An incredible 7 NFTS graduates have been nominated for this year’s British Independent Film (BIFA) Awards.

The NFTS Producing department is well represented with no fewer than three of its graduates nominated in ‘The Breakthrough Producer’ category. These include: Emily Morgan, I Am Not a Witch; Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Lady Macbeth (Fodhla came into the NFTS recently to deliver a fantastic masterclass on Lady Macbeth wiht director, William Oldroyd - read the write up here) and Gavin Humphries, Pin Cushion.

Three further graduates are nominated for their work on I Am Not a Witch, which is about an 8-year-old girl who is accused of witchcraft: Peter Lambert is nominated for ‘Best Editing’; Matt Kelly is nominated for ‘Best Music’ and Maiken Hansen is nominated for ‘Best Sound’.

NFTS Editing MA graduate, Carol Salter, is nominated in the ‘Best Documentary’ cateogory for her film, Almost Heaven, which is about a trainee mortician working in one of China’s largest funeral homes.

In addition to the seven graduates directly nominated for awards, NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate, John McKay produced ‘Best Short Film’ nominee, 1745, which tells the harrowing story of two African slave sisters who escape into the wilderness of 18th century Scotland.

The winners will be unveiled at the ceremony on Sunday 10 December at Old Billingsgate, which will mark the 20th anniversary of the awards.

‘Against All Odds’ Wins ‘Best Unscripted Pilot’ at New York TV Festival

National Film and Television School graduation Television Entertainment project, Against All Odds, created by Lucy Smith and Jamie Minty, has won ‘Best Unscripted Pilot/ Alternative Project’ at this year’s New York Television Festival’s (NYTVF) flagship Independent Pilot Competition (IPC). Against All Odds was the only UK project to be selected.

NFTS Head of Television, David G. Croft said: “I’m so proud of Lucy, Jamie and the team. This is an incredible achievement and one that shows that the work our students do in the Television Entertainment department is of a very high standard and capable of being recognised internationally.”

Jamie said: "It was such an honour to be selected and invited out to the New York Television Festival, let alone win our category! When we were developing the show, wondering how on earth we were going to be able to safely get our crew to hike up a mountain with all of their kit, we could never have imagined the show would take us all the way to New York.We are so proud to see the show go from strength to strength, with an option already under our belt and now the award, we can't wait to see where it goes next. It really is a testament to our NFTS crew's hard work and  their passion for the project. We are so grateful to the school for letting us make the show and supporting our mad idea from start to finish. I don't think there is anywhere else in the world where we could have made Against All Odds. Lucy and I made a fantastic team and we can't wait to work together again in the future."

(Jamie filming on location)

Lucy said: “What a result!  Jamie and I are so proud to be returning home with the NYTVF award for best unscripted pilot, it’s testament to our entire team’s thighs, determination and hard work throughout the entire process.  From our brilliant PMs in pre-production, to our throw-anything-at-us production crew, to our amazing post-production team… big congratulations to you all.”

About Against All Odds
In Against All Odds, five ordinary strangers each choose one of five locked bags – four contain blank paper, one contains £100,000 in cash. Over three days the team must carry their bags on an epic journey across some of the UK’s toughest natural landscapes for the chance to split the money at the finish line. Who will have the grit to make it to the end? Who will be broken by the unforgiving forces of nature? And will the contestant carrying the money even cross the finish line?

The Team:

Producer, Lucy Smith; Director, Jamie Minty; Camera, Mostyn Maltpress, Matt Murnaghan, Julie Rocque; Production Co-ordinator, Sophie Halton; Location Sound, Hosea Ntaborwa, Nick Olorenshaw, Rory Rea; Composer, Louis Dodd; Dubbing Mixer, Mark Bailey; Sound Editor, Sam Boulton; Graphics, Kelvin Chim; Colourist & Online Editor, David Sheldon.

The NYTVF is dedicated to identifying and nurturing top independent creative talent and connecting it with networks, studios, digital media companies, agencies, and brands.

For more information on the NFTS Directing and Producing Television Entertainment MA and to apply for a January 2018 start, please visit and to sign up for our upcoming online open day on Tuesday 7th November at 1pm, sign up at

Thor: Ragnarok Director Taika Waititi has NFTS Students in Stitches with his Hilarious & Informative Masterclass

“We Want You to Ragnarok This Franchise!”

NFTS students are regularly treated to incredible and highly entertaining masterclasses from top filmmakers but rarely are they in fits of laughter from start to finish.  Oscar nominee, actor, director and writer, Taika Waititi (Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) had the students in stitches throughout a special preview of his new film, Thor: Ragnarok and for the full duration of his brilliant masterclass where he discussed improvisation and the importance of developing and believing in your unique voice as a director.

Thor: Ragnarok has received rave reviews with Nicholas Barber describing it on as ‘Marvel’s best yet’ and Thor’s ‘most enjoyable outing so far’ and Little White Lies declaring it as potentially ‘the greatest Marvel movie.’

The session was hosted by NFTS Director, Jon Wardle, who opened by asking Taika about doing the motion capture and the voiceover for one of the characters in the movie, the very funny, giant rock monster, Korg. Taika based Korg on Polynesian bouncers who he describes as “softly spoken, gentle giants.” He continued: “It’s a good reprieve for the audience to have someone gentle like an auntie in an action movie.”

On how an indie filmmaker from New Zealand was chosen to direct a blockbuster Marvel movie, Taika said: “I was editing Hunt for the Wilderpeople in Hawaii, just hanging out there, and Marvel approached me. My first thought was, ‘Marvel’s given up!’”

And on his approach to directing the movie: “My strength isn’t superhero movies. Marvel knows what it’s doing in the superhero department. If you try and reinvent the wheel, that’s when you run into problems.  My strengths are people talking about their feelings, tone, character, jokes, dialogue, so I focussed on that and making a good film. It was a risky move to do a Thor movie as an indie director. I didn’t want to be the one to pull a Jenga piece out and collapse the Marvel tower! I felt very confident in my voice after making three films and that gave me the confidence to do a Marvel movie that would be unique. That’s what’s so great about Marvel; they don’t go for the obvious choice.”

Much of Thor: Ragnarok is improvised and Taika likes to foster a celebratory feel on set and enable “a good, creative, open space to adlib.” Improvisation and adlibbing can make things challenging for the crew including the VFX team. Taika said: “I would ask VFX Producer, Jake Morrison, ‘can I put something in the movie’ and he puts a dot somewhere and you have to trust it will look good afterwards. I have huge respect for VFX; you can have anything you want if the lighting is right. The amount done in post-production is mindboggling!”

Taika’s love of improvisation often leads to longer shoots which can make editing a challenge. “No editor likes my editing system! I say to my first editor, I’m going to fire you after four months. Then I hire another and fire them. Then I do some editing myself and then bring back the original editor who finishes it! You get fresh eyes this way and I hate being in a dark room with one person for six months, you go stir crazy.”

The adlibbing meant that the jokes and comedy were done in a different way to Marvel’s standard process. Taika explained: “The usual structure is to write jokes six months before the shoot, whereas I go to set with the script, which I see as a suggestion of a scene and ask ‘how can we make it better? Marvel was very supportive and gave me lots of freedom and the result is that it feels very alive and in the moment.”

On the challenge of working with established characters, Taika said: “We were able to reboot the series and give it a rebirth without having to recast the characters. Chris Hemsworth has great comedic timing but this hadn’t been exploited so far. Marvel asked me to ‘Ragnarok this franchise!’ I put the play featuring Thor, Loki and Odin in the movie as a way of saying everything you remember about the Thor franchise stops here.”

On what’s next, Taika revealed that he was directing a stop motion animation film about the life and times of Michael Jackson’s chimpanzee, Bubbles, but was undecided about whether to do a live action version of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6-volume graphic novel, Akira: “I’m not sure about doing Akira, it’s a very hard project to do.”

Before taking the time to pose for several photos with the students, Taika gave the following advice: “Don’t let anyone tell you that something isn’t possible even if they are older. Don’t be arrogant about it, you need to be receptive. Look for collaborators who are fun and who listen.”

Thor: Ragnarok is in cinemas now and credits the following NFTS graduates: Environment Technical Director, Zach du Toit; Digital Compositors, Luke Hardisty & Felipe Olid Guerrero; Production Assistant, Suzanne Mayger.


3 NFTS Grads Named as BAFTA Breakthrough Brits

Choë Thomson, Mahalia Belo & Segun Akinola

We would like to congratulate no fewer than three of our alumni who have been included in BAFTA’s 2017 list of 20 of the UK’s most promising future stars of film, games and television.

Choë Thomson (NFTS Cinematography MA graduate), Mahalia Belo (NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate) and Segun Akinola (NFTS Composing for Film and Television MA graduate) have been named as Breakthrough Brits at an event hosted by Maya Jama at the global Burberry flagship store on Regent Street in London. The group will be supported by BAFTA over the next 12 months as they progress their careers.

Actor and Breakthrough Brits juror Will Poulter said: “I jumped at the chance to be part of the Breakthrough Brits Jury because what I love most about BAFTA as an organisation is that it isn’t just commending people for reaching a certain height in their career. They are also doing so much work to nurture talent and provide people with the opportunity to get to that level.”

Chloë was given her first 35mm camera when she was 16, but it wasn’t until ten years later that she took her first steps towards becoming a professional cinematographer. After taking a keen interest in the art of cinematography, Chloë went on to study the subject at the NFTS. As a place where you shoot and create nearly every day, she describes her time there as a steep learning curve, but one that has made her what she is today. Chloë says that, as a DP, you rely on projects coming to you from other people, and so building good relationships with filmmakers is important for your future.

Mahalia wanted to work in film the moment she saw her first movie, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Growing up, she shot thousands of photographs, even developing her own 35mm film in the family bathroom. But the moment she first understood the role of director was when she gained work experience on the set of The Talented Mr. Ripley with director Anthony Minghella.  As an undergraduate, Mahalia realised that she liked stories which began from a feeling, and at the NFTS she found herself in a world-class school that gave her the time to work with actors and crews that shared her passion. Having won a BAFTA for Ellen, her first long-form drama for television, Mahalia is now working towards her debut feature.

Having played piano and drums since the age of five, it clicked eventually for Segun that composing for the screen would allow him to combine his love of both music and stories, and after a stint of work experience with a features composer, he was convinced it was where his future lay. After graduating with a BA in Composition from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and then from an MA in Composing for Film and Television at the NFTS, Segun began building his credits as a composer for the screen. Before long, Segun would score BBC Two’s landmark series Black and British: A Forgotten History. His breakthrough in features came when he composed fellow NFTS graduate, Shola Amoo’s A Moving Image. For anyone wanting to get into composing, Segun’s advice is to listen to as many different types of music as possible, and to analyse what you hear so that you can build an understanding of your medium.


NFTS Documentary Grad Film Receives IDA Awards Nomination

Chomo, an NFTS documentary graduation film, directed by documentary filmmaking graduate, Maayan Arad, has been nominated for the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award by the highly prestigious International Documentary Association.

The IDA (International Documentary Association) Documentary Awards is the world’s most significant recognition of the best non-fiction films and programmes of the year while the David L. Wolper Award recognises exceptional achievement in non-fiction film and video production at university level and brings greater public and industry awareness to the work of students in the documentary field.

Chomo is the only film from outside the USA in the list of five nominees and is our third nomination in five years for this competition. The winners will be announced on 9th December in Los Angeles.

Chomo is about a community of Buddhist nuns from Tibet and focuses on Chomo, a woman who is now in the 7th of 21 years of study.

The Team:  Maayan Arad: Director, Cinematographer and Producer; Production Managers, Marta Henriquez, Alicja Kielbasa; Graphic Designer Damián Galán Álvarez; Editor, Jamie Kataky; Sound Recordist, Rory Rea; Sound Editor & Dubbing Mixer, Michalianna Theofanopoulou; Composer, Matthew Peters; Colourist & Online Editor, Vlad Barin; Producer, Khaled Gad.)

For more information about the NFTS Directing Documentary MA, please visit

David Fincher talks filmmaking and his new Netflix series Mindhunter with NFTS students

The iconic director David Fincher thrilled NFTS students with a Masterclass - discussing his new Netflix TV series, Mindhunter, and his films such as Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en and Zodiac. 

The Q&A, full of laughter as well as inspiration and advice, was hosted by director, screenwriter and contributing editor to Empire Magazine, Nev Pierce.

Nev began by asking David about what drew him to make Mindhunter, which is on Netflix from 13th October“I wanted to explore the passing of the baton from J Edgar Hoover’s FBI to the modern FBI.  When they began to reconsider how they would interface with this new serial killer type – that they could try and learn from them.  The FBI was invented to allow them to cross jurisdictional lines.  Without that flow of information between states people had literally been getting away with murder.” David explained.  “Mindhunter talks about the mundanity of evil.  It lives down the street.”       

Discussing the choice to explore this in a TV series, rather than a film, David said he loved the way complex characters could develop over the length of time a series allows.  “Watching Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, I realised that on TV an audience will go for a flawed human character, if you show them enough facets.  And you need time to do that.  I love the idea of hearing the stories of people who should be beneath our contempt.  The wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Asked by one of the students about how he creates tension, David described it as “the building of elements to set questions in an audience’s mind.  It starts with the script, and then it’s how the cake is dressed.  How many layers of discomfort does the protagonist have to wade through?  It’s how you feel it.” Continuing, “In Zodiac there’s a scene with a projectionist in a basement – it’s a total red herring, but on an enjoyment factor – it’s what you go to the movies for.”

Talking about how he chooses who to work with, David praised the value of flexibility; the people who don’t just present an idea ‘this is how it’s going to be’, but are open to working with all the departments, adaptable and ready to try something new in the moment.  “The people who can step back and look at the broader picture.”

Asked about whether he is given more freedom in TV or in film, David laughed “I don’t get given any freedom – I take it!”  He urged the students “you have to have rules and, you personally, have to abide by them.  In the end the only power you have is to walk away.  And if you do not avail yourself of it, you’re powerless.  Have your rules and hold other people accountable.  And hold yourself accountable.” 


Screen Magazine Names NFTS Directing Graduate 'Star Of Tomorrow'

Congratulations to NFTS directing graduate, Rory Alexander Stewart who has just been named in Screen International’s prestigious 'Stars of Tomorrow' 2017 list. NFTS graduates who have received this prestigious accolade have gone on to achieve considerable success and include Doctor Foster composer, Stuart Earl, Penny Dreadful screenwriter, Krysty Wilson-Cairns and director of Cuffs and Ripper Street, Nick Rowland. 

Rory’s NFTS graduation film, Wild Horses, which he directed and co-wrote, was selected for this year’s Cinéfondation short film strand at the Cannes film festival and was one of just 16 films selected from 2600 works submitted by film schools from all over the world.

(Still from Wild Horses)

Speaking to Screen, Rory said: “Cannes is a great chance to get your foot in the door and I took a lot of selfies!”

Rory is from Leith in Scotland and came to the NFTS after studying film production at Bournemouth. His first major industry recognition came when he wrote Martin Smith’s short Liar, for which he won the BAFTA New Talent writing award in 2013. He has also won The Skinny/Innis & Gunn short film competition for no-budget improvised short Good Girl (2014), a mockumentary about an Alsatian that may also be an alien and was nominated for the Channel 4 Innovation in Storytelling Award for  Misery Guts.

(Behind the scenes photo from Wild Horses)

Since graduating from the NFTS, Rory is developing a feature-length version of his 2016 short In The Grass, titled Organs In The Grass, through the Belgium-based Less Is More writing lab. He describes it as a “Fargo-like” dark comedy about a pair of murder detectives. “My aim is to be on the way to making a feature within a year,” says Rory. “I am ambitious in that regard.”