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A unique course, the only one of its kind in the UK, designed to fast track you into the industry.

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Tuesday 18 April 10.30am - 1.00pm. Sign up here.

  • A unique course, the only one of its kind in the UK, designed to fast track you into the industry.
  • Students will gain the skills and expertise needed to direct science, natural history and wildlife productions and the know-how to produce entire shows.
  • The course gives students the ability to generate science and natural history programme ideas and formats.
  • Gain the confidence and know-how to pitch those ideas to commissioning editors.
  • Graduate with brilliant list of industry contacts and relevant skills for building a sustainable career as a Producer/Director.
  • Work experince at the UK’s major wildlife production companies.
  • Sir David Attenborough will deliver a masterclass/lecture to the students.

'A new MA designed to bring on the next generation of natural-history programme makers' BBC Wildlife

We welcome EU/EEA Students. Those accepted onto courses starting in 2017 and for the following intake in 2018 will have their fees guaranteed at the UK rate for both years of the course. Postgraduate students can apply for a loan to help with their studies via the Student Loans Company Loans. A £ 10,000 loan is available to contribute to course and living costs. The Post Graduate Loan is only open to EU/EEA and UK Students who normally live in England.  It is not currently available to Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Students. Find out more here.

Application Deadline: 06 Jul 2017

Course Overview

New technology and a greater variety of formats are challenging the traditional boundaries of Science and Natural History Programming and driving greater audience demand. British production companies are at the forefront of leading innovation in formats and high-end content, with growing opportunities to work with North American and international broadcasters.

This course will give you:

  • The skills to direct science and natural history productions.
  • The know-how to produce entire shows.
  • A practical working knowledge of current science and natural history television production methods.
  • The ability to generate science and natural history programme ideas and formats.
  • Knowledge of how the business works and current trends, including co-productions etc.
  • The confidence and know-how to pitch those ideas to commissioning editors.
  • Brilliant industry contacts and relevant skills for building a sustainable career as a Producer/Director.
  • Access to NFTS's Masterclasses led by major creative figures from film, television and games.

The National Film and Television School’s Science and Natural History Masters focuses on developing Producers and Directors. Therefore, as part of the course students will be exposed to the development and production challenges of specialist factual genres, such as Landmark / Blue Chip (interchangeable terms for high budget, high production value programming mainly used in a pure wildlife context), mini landmarks, Children’s, People and Nature, Live, Expedition films, Magazine formats, Obs-doc etc. In addition there will be a focus on promoting cross-genre ideas to foster creativity.

Editorial policy and standards, together with codes of practice relating to science and the filming of animals, and Health and Safety will be fully explored.

Students will gain practical experience in both the research and development of programming of this type whilst also developing a body of work that showcases their practical film making skills and innovation within the genre. 

Curriculum

Below is an indicative list of the topics covered on the course:

  • Audiences, and the genres of science and natural history films: differences and overlaps
  • Editorial and production values in science and natural history programmes
  • The documentary tradition
  • Principles of storytelling and film narrative
  • Finding stories: research
  • Story Development
  • Treatments and Proposal Writing / Pitching and packaging the concept
  • The film process, from script to screen
  • Writing techniques
  • Wildlife Behaviour
  • Finding and working with Talent and Presenters
  • Guidelines for Filming Animals
  • Editorial Policy and Standards
  • Digital Content and Social Media Extensions
  • Formatting
  • Short form storytelling
  • Directing the camera to capture a ‘scene’
  • Working with graphics and VFX
  • Pitch Reel / Sizzle Reels
  • Outside Broadcasts
  • Production and Post Production Workflow (logging, DITs etc)
  • Health and Safety
  • The History of Science and Wildlife Filmmaking
  • The Business: how programmes are financed. International co-production
  • International Markets and Programming
  • Marketplace trends
  • Managing a career

In addition, students will be exposed to specialist science and natural history filming techniques, such as: thermal, Slow Motion, underwater, Macro & Micro filming, drones, timelapse, rigs etc.

There is a strong emphasis on professional practice.  This means that student projects will be expected to measure up to scientific scrutiny, as well as exhibition and broadcast standards.

The structure of the course follows the chronological steps of a Science or Natural History Television production. Injected into this timeline will be specifically tailored modules taught by top television professionals, with experience of different subgenres or appropriate specialist techniques, eg cinematography or VFX. Students also get the chance to pitch their Science and Natural History programme ideas to broadcasters like the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery.

NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors. Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School and productions are given cash production budgets.

Placement

Each student will complete a minimum of 10 days work experience.

NFTS Benefits

Science & Natural History course participants will have full access to the NFTS’ optional creative stimulus strands, including: Cinema Club, Screen Arts and NFTS Masterclasses - these strands see major creative figures from film, television and games screening their work and discussing with students in the campus cinema. Recent speakers include David Fincher (Director, Seven, Gone Girl), Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), Abi Morgan (Suffragette, The Hour), Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, The Dark Knight) and Hamish Hamilton (Director, Super Bowl XLVIII).

Tutors

Highly experienced producer of wildlife documentaries and series, Paul Reddish, runs the course. Paul has been Producer and Director across a number of high profile natural history films and series including Attenborough in Paradise, The Future is Wild, Hummingbirds Jewelled Messengers, and many more.

Entry Requirements

If you are lively and imaginative, then this is the course for you! Applicants must be able to demonstrate their passion, commitment and talent for developing a career in Television.

Typically applicants will have a proven interest in science and natural history, which, typically, may involve a background in Physics, Chemistry, combined Natural Sciences, Zoology, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics etc. 

Apply With

  • A short proposal for a science or natural history television programme (one side of A4)
  • Optional: A digital portfolio containing samples of your work specifying your exact role in each.
    This work does not need to be in the science and natural history area, as some applicants may not have a film or other programme-making background.

How to Apply

You can apply directly to us at the NFTS by clicking on the link below:

When selecting your course, please ensure that you have read the entry requirements and details of the supporting materials that should accompany your application.

Timing your application

We are happy to receive applications 24/7 and 365 days a year up until the deadline.

  • 2 Year Course
  • Full-time
  • Course runs Jan-Dec each year
  • Next intake: January 2018
  • NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students