2021 is an exciting milestone in the history of the National Film and Television School as it commemorates its landmark 50th anniversary by planning a series of exciting events and activities to celebrate its past, present and future.
That’s 50 years of producing some of Britain’s most significant and well known creative talents from directors, producers, screenwriters and composers to behind the camera artists and technicians. The incredible work they, and decades of NFTS graduates have created over the past half a century has helped shape the cultural life of the UK and contributed to the worldwide success of the British film, television and more recently, the games industry.
In 1971 when the school first opened its doors, the government said that it hoped a “training school such as this would be a shot in the arm for the film industry in the UK.”
Colin Young, the founding director of the NFTS, established four permanent departments – production, camera, editing and sound and in September 1971 the very first intake of 23 students passed through the studio gates in Beaconsfield. That original cohort came from all over the world from the UK to the US, Eastern Europe to Israel and Australia. Among them was the school’s first trailblazing female, Broken Arrow screenwriter and director Dina Hecht, director Michael Radford, who would go on to be Oscar-nominated for his film Il Postino and Bill Forsyth who directed the BAFTA award winning Gregory’s Girl. Their counterparts also included Nick Broomfield, pioneering documentary maker of films such as Whitney: Can I Be Me, VFX supervisor Dennis Lowe who would go on to work on films including The Empire Strikes Back and producer Steve Morrison who went on to become co-founder and chairman of All3Media.
50 years on, the NFTS has become a production powerhouse that supplies the creative sectors with highly skilled, professionally trained graduates who make an unrivalled impact on the film, television and games industry, with a graduate employment rate of over 90%.
The school has worked incredibly hard to evolve into an award-winning, leading global institution. With more than 500 students per year enrolled across over 30 MA and Diploma courses, the NFTS remains the only UK film school with its own industry rivalling film and television studios and post-production facilities. 1 in 4 of its recent graduates are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds versus only 3% in the industry overall, and even though the NFTS graduates just eight cinematographers per year, its alumni shoot 25% of all high-end TV in the UK. 85% of UK broadcaster spend on high-end TV and two thirds of all Netflix productions have at least one NFTS graduate in a key role.
The NFTS 50th Anniversary celebrations will run throughout 2021 and due to the pandemic, plans will be fluid so they can quickly adapt to an ever changing situation. Highlights will include the release of previously unseen graduate films from the NFTS archive featuring high profile alumni. We’ll host unmissable masterclasses with renowned NFTS graduates which will be publically available for all to watch and will partner with a host of international festivals to showcase a series of retrospective work from the past 50 years of the NFTS.
NFTS will continue to share news of the school’s plans for 2021 and hope you will join them to celebrate their golden anniversary as the year progresses. Regular updates will be posted on their website here and via their social media channels (@nftsfilmtv).