The NFTS was excited to see 15 BAFTA nominations for NFTS alumni for the 2021 EE British Academy Film Awards and we were over the moon to see two out of three of the nominations in the British Short Animation category were 2020 Animation graduation films, made at the NFTS over the last two years! We got in touch with Directing Animation graduate and Director/Lead Animator on BAFTA nominated The Song of A Lost Boy, Daniel Quirke to get some behind the scenes insight into the making of the animation, his time at NFTS and his reaction to being nominated!

Two NFTS Grad Animations nominated for a BAFTA (Left: The Fire Next Time, Right: Song of a Lost Boy)

What were you doing before applying to the NFTS?

Before applying I did a BA in Animation at Middlesex University and had worked a couple of summer's assisting on graduation films at the NFTS.

Where did the inspiration for The Song of a Lost Boy come from?

The inspiration came a lot from personal experiences I’ve had. This then was built into what became final story though many conversations I had with Bríd Arnstein (Writer) and Jamie MacDonald (Producer). Growing up in a Catholic family, I wanted to convey this feeling of losing faith as well as regaining it – but also about being embarrassed about these feelings that I perceived people with faith would judge me for not having it and on the other hand people who didn’t have faith (or believe in God) would judge me and think I’m weird for having it.

The puppets created from wax and wire were handmade by NFTS Model Making students 

So, it became a coming of age story about a choirboy who loses his ability to sing in a choir when he reaches puberty and his voice breaks. He runs away and goes on a journey to try and discover who he is and what his purpose is after bumping into a nomadic group of people wandering the desert.

We decided to keep it fairly open and not prescriptively about someone having a crisis of faith so that people could take something from the story regardless of whether they believe in God or not.

What is your greatest inspiration as an animator? 

Music is probably one of my biggest inspirations as it’s such a powerful instrument in the process. I love listening to it, working with it, playing it. I’m not really a musician but I think I have an instinct for it. There’s so much music helps me with when generating ideas, creating a tone etc. This could be a common thing or maybe a weird thing but I used to listen to music imagining parts of my life were a film – as uninteresting as it was and is – and so maybe that’s why it helps me so much? I really enjoy piecing together images and music (or sound) and how different types of music and sound (or just as importantly, the absence of it) can totally affect the way you read and process an image.

The wax puppets created by the NFTS Model Making students give the film a very unique aesthetic. How did you come up with the visual style?

Firstly I wanted to use wax because I love materials that can be changed by a process whether it’s melting, eroding, decaying, burning etc. So I was fascinated with the idea of wax puppets melting and the power that visual could hold. Initially I wanted these wax puppets in the film to be melted by the heat of the sun in the desert but story wise this became a bit too complicated so we decided to remove this aspect from the concept.

Wax puppet from The Song of a Lost Boy

As well as being able to melt wax, I also love how the material is affected by light and also the ability to mix paints into the natural wax. Gradually I experimented with different types of wax to see which would be the best to use for puppets for example, what were the melting points as we didn’t want the puppets melting under the heat of the set lights, how soft or brittle they were as that affected how much we were able to move the limbs without the wax cracking.

You studied the Directing Animation MA. Why did you choose the NFTS?

I chose the NFTS because I wanted to gain experience in working in a team and learning how to direct a team. I really liked the idea of working with someone from each specialism (for example, Producing, Production Design, Composing, Sound Design), as this would allow me to work with talented people in each specific field who would be able to bring a lot to each project we worked on together. I also really liked the facilities for the Directing Animation students and how you are given a personal space to work in during your time at the school.

Daniel on set at the NFTS

What would a BAFTA win mean to you and The Song of a Lost Boy team? 

A BAFTA win would be amazing for me and the team as it would be a huge reward for the hard work we put in during our time at the school and hopefully help each of us with getting future projects and work. As the story is personal to me in some way it would mean a lot that people have connected with this character and story. However, even a nomination has been pretty amazing and unexpected to achieve so far so it wouldn’t taint the feeling too much if we didn’t win!

What lessons did you learn from making The Song of a Lost Boy that you’ll be taking forward into your next project?

A big thing I learnt whilst making film is how to direct. How to delegate, how to try and keep morale high in a team during stressful times, how to say no sometimes. All these things are important things for a director when working in a team. Also, the key in making sure you (and your team) know what the core of the film is about, especially if it’s a long project as this will help you make decisions, especially with story, throughout. Sometimes over a year this can become blurred or easy to forget so having a team – especially a Producer – who is able to remind you of that and assist you in times of doubt is very important.

Daniel Quirke on the set of The Song of a Lost Boy

Finally, what advice can you give to aspiring animators who may be thinking of following in your footsteps and applying to the NFTS?

My advice would be if you want to be a director then go for it! It’s a very collaborative course so this needs to be what you want to be a part of. It’s a great place to be and also to meet many people I have worked with since leaving the school and hope to do so a lot more in the future. It gave me the chance to get outside of my comfort zone and to develop many new skills as an animator, director, collaborator, but also to learn a lot from the people around me due to the amazing other students and staff there.

NFTS Credits
Director/Lead Animator - Daniel Quirke
Producer - Jamie MacDonald
Screenwriter - Brid Arnstein
Cinematographer - Emma Langguth
Production Designer - Steven X. Haber
Production Manager - Amy Vearncombe
Editor - Margred Pryce
Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer - Ruanth Chrisley Thyssen
Composer - Darryl O’Donovan
Lead Model Maker - Alice Simonato
Model Makers - Gemma Byrne, Helen Ferguson, Narika Jaggard, Penelope Konstantara, Grace Lawrence, Agathe Lederer, Roisin McCallum, Sophie Monks, Rosemarie Nelson, Jake Teale
CG Artists - Mafalda Soares, Yilin (Lesley) Cai
Compositors - Nicola Bosari, Eliis Kuusk, Pietro Abati
Matte Painter - Moritz Burkart
Colourist And Online Editor - Michael Pearce

The NFTS is hugely proud of all of our students that were invovled in making the productions nominated for this years BAFTAs. We're holding our breath and keeping our fingers crossed, eagerly awaiting the ceremony on 10th & 11th April!

Applications are open for the NFTS Directing Animation MA and the NFTS Model Making for Animation Diploma

Find out more about these fantastic practical courses and apply here: |


The Annie Awards 2021 Nominations have been announced! The Annie awards recognise excellence in animation in film and television and it’s great to see some NFTS alumni highlighted in the list.

We are really pleased to see 2020 graduation animation O Black Hole nominated for Best Student Film. After having its world premiere at the Oscar qualifying Animafest Zagreb, this beautiful animation, has gone on to be screened and win awards at countless festivals,  including being shortlisted for the BAFTA Student Film Award for Animation!

O Black Hole tells the story of an immovable woman meeting an unstoppable girl in a musical quest to discover the meaning of transience and letting go.

See the NFTS crew:
Director/Writer Renee Zhan
Producer Jesse Romain
Screenwriter Vanessa Rose
Cinematographer Adam Singodia
Production Designer Richard Henley
Production Manager Lorenzo P. Monti
Editor Armiliah Aripin
Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Ed Rousseau
Composer Harry Brokensha
Marketing and PR Edoardo Pinto Bonomo
Lead Model Maker Helen Ferguson
Model Makers Gemma Byrne, Narika Jaggard, Penelope Konstantara, Grace Lawrence, Agathe Lederer, Roisin McCallum, Sophie Monks, Rosemarie Nelson, Alice Simonato, Jake Teale
CG Lead Kristiāna Turlaja
CG Artists Valerie George, Mafalda Soares, Yilin (Lesley) Cai
Compositors Eliis Kuusk, Kristiāna Turlaja
Colourist And Online Editor Francis Qureshi

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, co-directed by 2011 Directing Animation alumnus Richard Phelan has been nominated in three categories: Best Indie Feature, Best Writing – Feature and Best Editorial – Feature. NFTS students enjoyed a screening of this brilliant film in our cinema ahead of its release, followed by a brilliant Q&A with Richard. Read more here:

See the NFTS crew:
Co-Director Richard Phelan
Compositor Graham Dorey
Animators Frej Bengtsson, Marie Jeanne Monique Lechevallier
Exec Producer, Story Nick Park
Supervising Sound Editor Adrian Rhodes

A few other TV shows with NFTS alumni involvement were also nominated; The Mandalorian (Digital Compositor Luke Hardisty; Compositor Graham Dorey; Lighting & Lookdev TD Boyan Baynov) and The Umbrella Academy S2 (Director Jeremy Webb) for Best Character Animation – Live Action and Big Mouth (DOP Niels Johansen; Composer Matthew Davidson; Sound Editor Chris Wilson) for Best Writing – TV/Media.

Huge congratulations to all the NFTS alumni involved in these productions, we’ll look forward to the awards on Friday 16 April, 7pm PST.

Find out more about the Virtual Event here:

Applications are open for NFTS MA, Diploma and Certificate courses starting in January 2021 and September 2022, including our world-renowned two year Directing Animation MA. Check out the full course list at



NFTS graduation film The Fire Next Time will showcase at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US from 29 January – 3 February, the only UK animated short to be included. Here, head of NFTS Model Making John Lee shares an insight into the collaboration and input that was required from his team of model makers to give this powerful film inspired by the 2011 London riots its unique look and feel.

Students working on model of tower block
Model Makers Alistair Fleming and Oliver Arnell Argles working on model of tower block

“The technique used in Director Renaldho Pelle’s short The Fire Next Time incorporates hand drawn and digital animation, composited in backgrounds comprised of three dimensional miniature tower blocks, street scenes and underpasses, synonymous with the urban setting of the film.

Students looking through 3d model
Model Maker Thanos inside 3D tower block model

The stylised buildings were designed by NFTS Production Designer Nicola Sadori and were fabricated by the Model Making department at an approx. scale of 1:50. We deliberately over emphasised the textural element of the buildings, to remove any sense of realism, which Renaldo and Nicola wanted to avoid. The street scenes remained brutally simple, and were finished in a limited monochrome palette, with each building elevation painted in selected tones to compliment Cinematographer Fabio Mota’s lighting design. Most street parts were constructed in forced perspective, so maquettes were made of each set up, and photographed by Fabio in order to work out the complex compositions prior to any construction. The end result is a very original aesthetic.”

Model of tower block building and camera on a track
Model building with camera on track

It was very much a team effort for the NFTS Model Makers, with students Ellen Carnegie and Emma Hodgson leading the texture finishing of this project, whilst Oliver Arnell Argles, Angus Choy, Alastair Fleming and Thanos Kantzavelos assembled laser cut building facades and set up on stage, with Harry Saxon making a series of stylised vehicles and small scale recognisable props including a police van.

Model Police Van
Model Police Van

“I’m extremely proud of the Model Making teamwork on this film which supported Renaldho’s vision, and we are all incredibly excited for it to make its Sundance debut.”

Since graduating alongside Renhaldho last year, the Model Makers have immediately started making their own impact on the industry including Oliver Argles who is now working for Blinkink in London (known for The Bear & The Hare John Lewis Christmas advert) and Arch Film Studio (which is involved in the making of many Wes Anderson films including Isle of Dogs and the upcoming The French Dispatch). Ellen Carnegie is working full time at MacKinnon and Saunders in Manchester (NFTS Model Making course partners, known for iconic animation films such as Coraline, Corpse Bride and Chicken Run.)

If you’d like to create models for animation, applications are now open for the NFTS Model Making Diploma. Visit to apply now for a September 2021 start!



The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is thrilled to announce that graduate animation film The Fire Next Time, has been selected for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the only UK animated short to be included. 

Still from The Fire Next Time showing animated people fighting in street

The atmospheric and powerful seven minute film by Directing Animation MA graduate Renaldho Pelle was inspired by the 2011 London riots, blending hand painted character animation with stylised stop motion sets built to a scale of 1:50 by students of the NFTS Model Making for Animation Diploma.

The Sundance Film Festival will run online from 28th January to 3rd February 2021 with The Fire Next Time one of only three UK shorts screened. A total of just 50 ‘bold and creative’ shorts were selected by the Sundance Jury with 9,000 entries submitted from all over the world.

The Fire Next Time

In The Fire Next Time, rioting spreads as social inequality causes tempers in a struggling community to flare, but as the people rebel the oppressive environment takes on a life of its own as the shadows of the housing estate around them close in. The film, which premiered at the ‘animation Oscars’, Annecy International Animation Festival earlier this year, was developed during an experimental module at the NFTS and utilises a novel approach to the classic, and notoriously challenging ‘paint on glass’ animation technique, combining it with brutalist inspired stop motion sets and projection.

Director Renaldho Pelle who graduated from the NFTS in 2019 said: “It feels really humbling for The Fire Next Time to have been selected for the Sundance Festival, I wasn't expecting it at all. I hope the film might encourage people to feel compassion for the problems of others which perhaps they do not share, and help them begin to think about how they might bring about change.”

Head of Directing Animation at NFTS Robert Bradbrook said: “We're very proud that The Fire Next Time has been selected for the Sundance Film Festival.  The film follows an NFTS tradition of using animation to explore tricky subjects and exposing them to a wider audience. Through his gestural brush-strokes, combined with the brutalist model sets of London estates, Renaldho beautifully captures the tensions in his neighbourhood that led to the 2011 riots. While the film was often difficult in the making, the final results highlight the outstanding teamwork within the production and a director who never gave up on his vision.”

Watch The Fire Next Time trailer:

The Making of The Fire Next Time | By Director Renaldho Pelle

“My hope for The Fire Next Time was that the film might encourage people to feel compassion for the problems of others which perhaps they do not share, and help them begin to think about how they might bring about change.

Renaldho Pelle working on his film
Director Renaldho Pelle works on his film at NFTS

Some people are fighters, they don’t have the tools to express themselves in other ways. I am a talker and a maker. I feel responsible for articulating the issues of people around me and I strongly feel the importance of the 2011 riots has been neglected or worse, deliberately diminished. I am surprised by how easily the actions of so many were dismissed as solely motivated by greed.

To believe that alone says a lot about society’s view of its most deprived. For me rioting is an expression of people’s power and agency over the spaces they inhabit. Like many of those interviewed after the riots of 2011, I feel anger. Anger that those who enforce the law are willing to use force and sometimes even take lives on suspicion of some minor offence. And at those who would justify those actions. 

I feel scared because I myself and most of those whom I love are part of that group that mean so little to society. I feel angry at how difficult it is for those of us from poor backgrounds to share the benefits of our society. At how hard we have to fight to follow the ‘right’ path, and how easily we are condemned when we do not. Angry at feeling outside of the society I have been born into. I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way, and that is why I made The Fire Next Time.”


Director | Renaldho Pelle

Luton born Renaldho Pelle graduated from The National Film and Television School’s award winning Directing Animation MA in 2019. He is currently working as a freelance animator, directing animated music videos and animating for companies including Tate Britain, Epic Games and Blinkink. His work is characterised by a combination of slick digital and tactile analogue approaches placing heavy emphasis on design and illustrative style. Thematically, his projects centre around social and personal issues, with an emphasis on subtle emotive human character performance.

Screenwriter | Kerry Kolbe

Kerry graduated from the National Film and Television School with an MA. in Screenwriting in 2019. Her graduation feature Swallow won the Cinestory Feature Fellowship and placed second in the UCLA Feature Writing Competition. She’s now taking part in the BBC Writer’s Room Northern Voices scheme, has projects in development with Wall to Wall and BBC Drama and is writing the VR game of Peaky Blinders for Maze Theory. Kerry is represented by Berlin Associates.

Producer | Yanling Wang

Yanling Wang is from Shanghai, graduated from the NFTS Producing MA course. During his time at the School, Yanling received a BAFTA scholarship. Yanling is working as a VFX producer and film director in China currently. She is one of the partners of two companies; Flint Walk and Emtiontory.

Editor | Robin Whalley

Born in Bergamo, Italy, Robin developed an interest in editing as a teenager and, after a period of self-taught experience, was accepted on the MA Editing course at the National Film & Television School where he had the chance to work on documentary, fiction and animation shorts, including The Fire Next Time as one of his graduation projects. Since graduating he has worked on a variety of projects in TV and Film, including 24 Hours in Police Custody (Channel 4), the mini-series The Baby Has Landed (BBC Two), the feature drama The War Below and feature documentary Burning Man: Art on Fire, in addition to shorts that have screened in festivals worldwide. He is currently working as a freelancer and is based in North London.

Cinematographer | Fabio Mota

  • Website:
  • Instagram: @fabiomotadop

Production Designer | Nicola Sadori

Nicola Sadori is an Italian Production Designer based in the UK. He started working in Milan as a Designer for exhibition stands, events and window displays for leading fashion companies in eyewear and luxury goods. After changing career paths, he graduated in MA Production Design at the National Film and Television School. Since graduating he has been working as Draughtsperson and Assistant Art Director on big budget films and TV series. He has also worked as a Production Designer for commercials, music videos and short films.

Sound Designer | Jose Pablo Ramirez

Jose is a Film, TV and Games Sound Designer from Costa Rica, based in London. He graduated with an MA in Sound Design from the National Film & Television School, United Kingdom, in 2019 and has a Diploma in Sound Design for Visual Media from the Vancouver Film School. Projects he has worked on have premiered internationally at prestigious festivals such as Annecy, DC Shorts and Edinburgh, have been broadcast internationally on channels such as the BBC and Teletica and have been nominated for a Royal Television Society Award and a BAFTA.

Marisa Cornford | Composer

Marisa Cornford is a British composer and pianist. She trained at Chetham's Music School, Edinburgh University, Mannes College in New York and the National Film and TV School. She is professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music and a freelance composer of music for a range of media including TV, film and the concert platform. She is a member of the 2019-2020 BAFTA film crew and the score for her NFTS documentary Ravens won a Grierson award in November 2019.


  • Renaldho Pelle (pronounced Ren-al-doh Pel-ay) - Director
  • Kerry Jade Kolbe - Screenwriter
  • Yanling Wang - Producer
  • Fábio Mota - Cinematographer
  • Nicola Sadori - Production Designer
  • Robin Whalley - Editor
  • Marisa Cornford - Composer
  • Jose Pablo Ramirez - Sound Designer
  • Liz Glennard - Colourist
  • Michael Pearce - Colourist
  • Ysabel King - VFX/SFX
  • Liam Wedge - VFX/SFX
  • Stephanie Faucher - Production Managers
  • Lára Theódóra - Production Managers


  • Renaldho Pelle
  • Tommy Robin
  • Jonathan Djob Nkondo
  • Mohamed Fadera
  • Kirill Blumenkrants
  • Alex Apostolakis
  • Chen Tan
  • Sam Gainsborough
  • Hanna Chuieva
  • Martha Halliday
  • Piero Emili
  • Frank Burgess
  • Sam Gray
  • Laura Franchito (Stop Motion)

Model Makers:

  • Oliver Arnell Argles
  • Ellen Carnegie
  • Angus Choy
  • Alastair Fleming
  • Emma Hodgeson
  • Thanos Kantzavelos
  • Harry Saxon


  • Lesley Cai
  • Miya Shen
  • Matthew Lee


  • Andreas Brooks

Art Dept:

  • Priya-Rose Rodríguez (Art Department)
  • Anya Kordecki (Art Department)
  • Francesca Cook (Art Department)
  • Oliver Arnell Argles (Sets, Models & props)
  • Ellen Carnegie (Sets, Models & props)
  • Angus Choy (Sets, Models & props)
  • Alastair Fleming (Sets, Models & props)
  • Emma Hodgson Sets, (Sets, Models & props)
  • Thanos Kantzavelos (Sets, Models & props)
  • Harry Saxon (Sets, Models & props)
  • Robert Streader (Sets, Models & props)


  • Ruanth Chrisley Thijssen (Music Recordist)
  • Dan Cornford (Electric Viola)
  • Dan Kimberley (Djembe Drums & Percussion)


The full festival programme can be found via Sundance's website

Keen to follow in Renaldho's footsteps and study the NFTS Directing Animation MA?
Applications open on 4th January 2021 for a January 2022 start so set a reminder in your calendar and start the new year off on the right foot!


In this 'Behind the Scenes at the NFTS' piece, recent NFTS Directing Animation graduate Gagandeep Kalirai walks us through the process of making her graduation film, Cha.

Cha tells the story of Bibi, an elderly woman plagued by memories of the past, and her granddaughter Simran who is starting to notice. In resolving to teach Simran how to make Cha, they are pulled into the past, to Bibi's memories of one fateful day in 1984 Delhi. 

Here, Gagandeep discusses the learnings and challenges she experienced while telling this important and very personal story.

NFTS students working on animation
Gagandeep working on the animation for Cha at the NFTS

“Animation was something I discovered purely by chance in college. What appealed to me initially was the drawing aspect, the basic ability to have multiple images come to life in sequential order. Once I discovered animation in terms of it being a filmmaking medium, I was hooked. I went on to UCA Farnham's animation course and in that time decided that I was going to pursue it full time as a serious career path. Choosing to go on to apply to the NFTS was quite a big step for me, and one I was so glad I had a lot of support in. What enticed me to apply was the more specialised directing aspect of the Animation MA. I felt this was an opportunity to really immerse myself into the filmmaking industry as a whole and extending my knowledge on my specialisation.

Telling the story of Cha through the medium of animation felt like a no-brainer at the time. I will always hold the belief that animation has an unparalleled power to really tackle some of the most sensitive topics as it's a medium in which you can create a world that is unrestricted. Using this as a strength you can take real world stories and re-tell them in a way that is visually completely unique to the subject. With Cha, taking the narrative into a more surreal space really allowed us to be adventurous with how we moved through the story and how we were able to exhibit the more emotional parts of the film. We explored symbolisms and metaphors that only grew stronger through a literal visual representation.

NFTS animation concept art
Cha background concept art

During the production of Cha, it became apparent that our biggest challenge would be scheduling. Throughout the year the production would be required to meet a number of important deadlines and it’s down to each individual production to make sure everything is done within that time. For Cha, we wanted to approach it as if it was a documentary, and it soon became apparent that we had to get on board with research, recording and animatic editing quite quickly at the start of pre-production. Our Producer on the project was James Bowsher, who was able to establish good communication with everyone on the team to where I was able to efficiently make regular updates to the schedule and have those updates be relayed to the crew. Our production became quite malleable as a result in terms of time management, enabling us to still make effective changes nearer the end whilst still being able to hit our targets.

There were so many significant moments during the production of Cha. The research portion of the film which took place in India was emotionally exhausting, but learning about the stories and events that people had gone through was incredibly insightful. Being able to take the information I gathered and brainstorm with my crew back at the school was especially memorable. Many days throughout the production were full of running back and forth to the editing suites, relaying ideas with our Editor Constance Brannick when inspiration hit. I remember the amount of times we tweaked our animatic for Cha - and although it was a long process, production days like that were my favourite kind of days.

NFTS student editing film
Constance editing Cha

By far the most significant thing I learnt during this production was how important it is to trust your team. My crew on this production pushed the film from something so small in my head into a fully realised statement of a film on the big screen. I found myself wanting to push myself more and more, wanting to test the limits of the film and the production a bit more at each step - and I still wish I had gone further. And this is because I realise looking back that each step of the way, I could rely on my crew to help me facilitate that and to get this film to where we felt it needed to be.

Making this film at the NFTS allowed me to meet a fantastic network of people. From the tutors to the students, everyone at the NFTS that I had the pleasure of working and studying alongside had a real passion for their individual departments. The students you walk alongside work hard and are dedicated to their projects, there was a real sense of becoming a part of something bigger than just yourself, of pure collaboration. Making the film in this kind of environment made the production for Cha a real joy.

NFTS student sound mixing
Sound Designer Joao Fonte working at the mixing desk

The NFTS Animation course has something really wonderfully powerful. There’s a definite sense of community on this course, and I felt whilst being a part of this department I got introduced to the animation community in all its (somewhat unusual and eclectic) glory for the first time. It is the tutors, technicians and visiting lecturers that contribute to developing a network of truly unforgettable people. There are a lot of people who work quietly in the background, and as the year progresses you learn to appreciate what it takes to run such an enriching course.

If there was someone who was thinking of applying to the course, I would tell them to be sure of their own vision. Remember that people with different backgrounds, ideas and perspectives is what will strengthen our industry. To be yourself, as cheesy as it sounds, is something to be encouraged when applying. Think about your own ideas and narratives you want to tell and think about how animation can enhance that.  Whether it’s a unique medium in which you like to animate in, or a specific genre or art style, be confident that you’ll be given the tools you need at the NFTS in which to showcase these ideas.”

Watch the trailer for Cha

See the Cha Cast & Crew
Bibi - Neelam Bakshi
Simran - Manpreet Bambra

Director - Gagandeep Kalirai
Producer - James Bowsher
Screenwriter - Shyam Popat
Cinematographer - Graham Boonzaaier
Production Designer - Anna Woloszczuk
Production Manager - Holly Mann
Editor - Constance Brannick
Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer - João Fonte
Composer - Saul Bragman
Marketing and PR - Sam Frazher
CG Lead - Jordan Carter
Colourist And Online Editor - Nigel Tadyanehondo

Cha premiered to industry in February at the 2020 NFTS Graduation Showcase at Picturehouse Central in London which culminated in a graduation ceremony at Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square.

NFTS students at graduation showcase and ceremony
L-R The Cha team on stage at Picturehouse Central and Gagandeep with her Animation course mates after graduation in February 2020

Follow Gagandeep on Instagram and stay up to date with Cha here.

Apply today for this incredible award-winning course and start your journey to a career in Animation in January 2021. If you have a passion for storytelling, creating characters and the art of animation, the course will give you the skills to bring these passions to life on screen and help you develop into the filmmaker you aspire to be.

  • Two years, full-time.
  • Graduates include the creator of Wallace and Gromit (Nick Park) and Peppa Pig (Mark Baker).
  • Collaborate with students in other specialisms across the School to make several films, putting into practice the skills you learn during the course.
  • Combines art school philosophy with state-of-the-art film school facilities.
  • All production costs are covered by the NFTS.

Find out more here!

John Lee, Head of Model Making at the NFTS was thrilled that his students were once again given the opportunity to become heavily involved in another inspired ‘real life’ commercial brief for SHEBA® Cat Food. NFTS Directing Animation MA student Nick Cinelli was selected to make the 60 second promo, titled ‘Resistance is Futile’ as part of an inaugural scholarship awarded to him by Flare Studio, Omnicom’s content commissioning platform. More info here.

Nick’s winning brief was to remind viewers that cats have never quite forgotten that they were once worshipped as gods. It involved an ambitious technique that included a rotating miniature set and combined live action with 3D and 2D drawn animation characters. The brief landed with the Model Making department when Nick and NFTS Bridge to Industry Executive Producer, Venetia Hawkes, realised the only way to create the very particular and innovative aesthetic they were after was to bring on board the students from the Model Making for Animation Diploma, now in its third exciting year. Nick created a tight animatic, which the model makers worked from.

John Lee explains the process: ”We created a miniature set at 1:6 scale of a pretty generic sitting room, which during the one minute story, transforms in ‘real time’ into an elaborate Ancient Egyptian den, complete with artefacts, sculptures, detailed ornate props and surfaces. Interior walls were ‘floated’ in and out so that Nick could achieve a variety of camera viewpoints during the two day shoot. The elaborate concepts and set designs were created by NFTS Production Design student Roz Gregoire, who then worked with my students on the best way to create the miniature environment in a short pre-production period. The detailed props were built by all 10 model makers, who shared out the work during a four week period. Industry prop making expert; Steve Gregory found time to share his knowledge and skills of mechanics and construction, in between his busy commitments at Pinewood Studios on the recent Star Wars film. The model was shot live action, with hand operated props and scene shift gags by NFTS Cinematography student Molly Manning-Walker, who also smoked up the interior to give it the necessary level of realism.  

These atmospheric background plates were then locked in the edit before the 2D animation overlays of the Sheba cat and human characters were drawn by NFTS MA Directing Animation student Nelly Michenaud. Nelly created hundreds of hand drawn frames over the following months post shoot. My students were naturally excited to be involved in the live brief and also to work with industry experts, such as Steve, Joe Holman, and Josie Corben who were more than happy to share their expertise. Projects such as these help boost the students already comprehensive portfolios as they complete the course and prepares them to fully enter the world of model and prop making. It’s every Head of Department’s dream to not only deliver their own unique courses but when we get the chance to work on a real brief? Well, that’s why our students choose the NFTS!”

Director Nick Cinelli who has since graduated from the NFTS, said: “Working on this project was amazing and Flare Studio gave me the creative license to run with it. I couldn't be happier with the end product, but more importantly the experience of collaborating with so many lovely people.”

Watch Resistance is Futile below.

Applications for Model Making for Animation are now open for a September 2020 start!

Watch an insightful Masterclass from Head of Model Making, John Lee alongside Model Making graduate Lisa Ott, who is currently working on several projects with the award winning Mackinnon and Saunders, here.

For more info on the Model Making for Animation Diploma course click here.



The NFTS has once again been named one of the top five animation schools in the world in this year’s Animation Career Review 2020 School Rankings list. The NFTS Directing Animation MA and our Model Making for Animation Diploma courses are both highlighted, with the School named Number 5 in the world and Number 2 in Europe - a fantastic achievement! These are the eighth annual international rankings for animation by Career Animation Review who considered nearly 200 schools with animation programs from across the globe in preparing this year's rankings.

Robert Bradbrook, Head of NFTS Directing Animation MA said: “NFTS Animation is a unique place that combines art school philosophy with professional state-of-the-art film school facilities. Uniting these worlds has resulted in innovative and creative films that have been celebrated around the world.  Our ethos of collaboration between departments, such as model making, music composition, cinematography and producing means that our students are ready for employment in the animation industry as soon as they graduate. Recent students have gone on to write and direct everything from commercials to animated TV series to feature films such as Shaun the Sheep – Farmageddon. It’s fantastic that the Animation Career Review has recognised this remarkable environment and put us so high in the world’s league tables.”

John Lee, NFTS Head of Model Making for Animation added: “Not only do my students create wonderful models, props and puppets, but they also support the fabulous Directing Animation MA course on some of the School’s stop frame graduate film animations. With the Model Making students on board over the last two years, the quality of models and puppets in the grad films has significantly stepped up a level. The animation directors have very much enjoyed the collaboration and I’m sure that upward trend will continue as we increase our profile with accolades such as the well-deserved rankings from Careeer Animation Review. During my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working on three classic stop frame animations; Fantastic Mr Fox, Frankenweenie and Isle of Dogs so it’s a natural progression for me to share some of the skills I’ve picked up over the years with this new generation of artists emerging from the NFTS.”

After a phenomenal 2019, with a host of graduate films selected for the most prestigious festivals around the world including Annecy and Cannes, 2020 graduate film, O Black Hole written and directed by recent Directing Animation graduate Renee Zhan has been shortlisted for Animafest Zagreb 2020. A record nine NFTS films have been shortlisted for the 2020 BAFTA Student Film Awards in Los Angeles including three animations, two of which were worked on by Model Making graduates. Read the full story here.

NFTS graduate Renee Zhan working on her animation 'O Black Hole' at the School

Applications are now open for our one year Model Making for Animation Diploma:  Apply by 31st May to start in September 2020: 

Applications are now open for our two year Directing Animation MA for a January 2021 start: 



Huge congratulations to recent NFTS Directing Animation graduate, Fokion Xenos whose graduation film, Heatwave has won the 2019 ‘Mclaren Award for Best New Animation’ at the Edinburgh international Film Festival.

Stella Heath Keir, Fokion Xenos and Kevin Langhamer at Edinburgh Film Festival

Heatwave: In the midst of a searing heatwave, two little children find a way to cool everyone down.

The Team: Director/Writer Fokion Xenos, Producer Priya K. Dosanjh, Cinematographer Brendan Freedman, Production Designer Antonio Niculae, Production Manager Joseph Phillips, Editor Stella Heath Keir, Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Kevin Langhamer, Composer Andreas Gutuen Aaser, Marketing and PR Alexandre Ermakov, Model Makers Thanos Kantzavelos, Harry Saxon, Colourist and Online Editor Liz Glennard

Edinburgh International Film Festival, the world’s longest continually-running film festival, showcases global, international and UK films and plays host to the world's greatest filmmakers. With an emphasis on new talent, discovery and innovation, EIFF’s vibrant programme of films and events combines a commitment to audiences with a strong ongoing stake in the development of the UK and Scottish film industries.

Applications for the NFTS Directing Animation MA are open until the 7th July 2019 (the two-year MA course starts in January 2020) – for more information and to apply, please visit

The NFTS has been named as one of the top five animation schools in the world in this year’s Animation Career Review 2019 School Rankings list.

Both our Directing Animation MA and our new Model Making for Animation Diploma courses are highlighted in the list and the School is named number four in the world and number two in Europe.

It’s been an incredible year so far for both courses. Recent directing Animation MA grad, Fokion Xenos has had his grad film, Heatwave selected for world leading animation festival, Annecy. Heatwave is also to compete for the ‘Mclaren Award for Best New Animation’ at this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival alongside fellow NFTS grad animations, Almost There, directed by Nelly Michenaud and One Liner, directed by Mathew Lee.

Another graduation film, Solar Plexus directed by David McShane was selected to compete for the Cinéfondation prize in Cannes, making it eight years in a row that the School has been selected for the festival!

Other fantastic news for the department includes alumna, Paloma Baeza who graduated in 2017 and won a BAFTA in 2018 for her graduation animation, Poles Apart and has been signed on to direct a female-led animated feature on iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Fellow alumni, Alison Snowden and David Fine were nominated for an Oscar this year for their animation, Animal Behaviour and NFTS alumni have also won the British Short Animation BAFTA five years in a row from 2014.

The Model Making for Animation Diploma which is now in its second year worked on a stunning set recreation from NFTS alumnus, Nick Park’s Oscar nominated graduation film, A Grand Day Out to celebrate Wallace & Gromit’s 30th birthday – read the full story here:

If you’d like to follow in our student and alumni’s footsteps, apply for the Directing Animation MA by 7th July 2019 to start in Jan 2020 at

An incredible six NFTS graduation films have been selected for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, which takes place between the 19th and 30th June. NFTS graduation animations, Almost There directed by Nelly Michenaud, Heatwave, directed by Fokion Xenos and One Liner, directed by Matthew Lee will compete for the ‘Mclaren Award for Best New Animation’. Other graduation films selected for the festival include documentary, Beyond The North Winds: A Post Nuclear Reverie directed by Natalie Cubides-Brady, Animation, Moth directed by Ewa Luczkow and fiction, Rooftop Refugee directed by Alexandra Brodski.

Almost There: On an everyday train journey quite unlike any other, a not-so-casual observer goes to extreme lengths to avoid other passengers, a giant baby runs away from his parents, a romantic woman starts an ill-fated relationship with a cuckoo, and a naïve boy discovers that some problems can’t be fixed by pictures of unicorns.

The Team: Director Nelly Michenaud, Producers Kate Phibbs, Nathanael Baring, Screenwriter Tim Dees, Cinematographer Alana Mejia Gonzalez, Production Designer Theo Boswell, Production Manager Julia Jendrysik, Editor Celina Øier, Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Ioannis Spanos, Composer Adam Price, Lead Animator Richard Farris, Model Makers Angus Choy, Alastair Fleming, Thanos Kantzavelos, Lisa Ott, Harry Saxon, Melissa Tague, Becky Weston, CG Lead Ysabel King, Colourist and Online Editor Liz Glennard

Heatwave: In the midst of a searing heatwave, two little children find a way to cool everyone down.

The Team: Director/Writer Fokion Xenos, Producer Priya K. Dosanjh, Cinematographer Brendan Freedman, Production Designer Antonio Niculae, Production Manager Joseph Phillips, Editor Stella Heath Keir, Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Kevin Langhamer, Composer Andreas Gutuen Aaser, Marketing and PR Alexandre Ermakov, Model Makers Thanos Kantzavelos, Harry Saxon, Colourist And Online Editor Liz Glennard

One Liner: Ian Plinth, best known as the unfunny half of a comedy double act form the 1970s, attempts to make his solo comeback on board a cruise liner.

The Team: Director/Writer/Animator Matthew Lee, Producer Teodora Shaleva, Cinematographer Molly Manning-Walker, Production Designer Lauren Taylor, Production Manager Palma Derzsi, Editor Mirjam Jegorov, Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer Edward A. Guy, Composer Rachael Philip, Marketing and PR Alex Chronopoulos, Model Makers Oliver Arnell Argles, Ellen Carnegie, Angus Choy, Alastair Fleming, Thanos Kantzavelos, Lisa Ott, Harry Saxon, Melissa Tague, Becky Weston, Lead Compositor Mark Graham, Colourist and Online Editor Michael Pearce

Beyond the North Winds is a hybrid documentary about the decommissioning of a nuclear plant in Scotland. Tracing the journey of a fictional character who disappears while working at the reactor, the film explores our relationship with technology, myth and landscape.

The Team: Director/Producer/Additional Cinematography - Natalie Cubides-Brady Cinematographer - Sebastian Cort Production Manager - Alana O’Neill Editor - Jamie King Sound Recordist - Ben Band Sound Designer/Dubbing Mixer - Ben Goodall Composer - Andreas Gutuen Aaser Compositor - Ysabel King Online Editor - Michael Pearce

Jumping between reality and fantasy, Moth is the story of a grieving family told through the eyes of lonely 8-year old Mabil and her vivid imagination which shows her how a tragic loss is breaking apart her parents.

The Team: Ewa Luczkow, Director/Animator; Nikolay Savov, Producer; Sophie Sims, Screenwriter; Alfred Thirolle, Cinematographer; Ewa Galak, Production Designer; Kieran Nolan Jones, Production Manager; Conor Meechan, Editor; Sean Mcgarrity, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Jo Paterson, Composer; Thomas Hurd, Cg Lead; Baitong Moseu, Lead Compositor; Beatriz De La Osa, Colourist & Online Editor

Moth TRAILER from Conor Meechan on Vimeo.

Rooftop Refugee is a satirical comedy that follows Martha as she attends her daughter’s primary school performance. a young refugee boy who is threatening to jump from the school rooftop throws the event into chaos and the adults below take the opportunity to spread their views on the world.

The Team: Alexandra Brodski, Director/Co-Screenwriter; Shereen Ali, Producer; Rebecca Martin, Co-Screenwriter; Alfred Thirolle, Cinematographer; Tea Palomäki, Eline Van Oeveren, Charlotte Smith, Dominika Lapinska, Assistant Directors; Rosalind Grégoire, Production Designer; Alex Mcardle, Production Manager; Selina Hånkansson, Editor; A T Grigore, Production Sound Mixer;  Joshua Deji Bamford, 1st Assistant Sound; Breen Turner, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Anna Bauer, Composer; Laura Jane Dart, Colourist & Online Editor

Edinburgh International Film Festival, the world’s longest continually-running film festival, showcases global, international and UK films and plays host to the world's greatest filmmakers.

With an emphasis on new talent, discovery and innovation, EIFF’s vibrant programme of films and events combines a commitment to audiences with a strong ongoing stake in the development of the UK and Scottish film industries.

Applications for the NFTS Directing Animation MA are open until the 7th July 2019 (the two-year MA course starts in January 2020) – for more information and to apply, please visit