National Film and Television School

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) is a film, television and games school established in 1971 and based at Beaconsfield Studios in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England. It is featured in the 2021 ranking by The Hollywood Reporter of the top 15 International film schools.[1]

National Film and Television School
NFTS in 2011
MottoOur Credits Tell The Story
TypeEducational Charity
Established1971 (1971)
Academic affiliation
PresidentLord David Puttnam
DirectorDr Jon Wardle
Other students
Location, ,

51.6054°N 0.6374°W / 51.6054; -0.6374
CampusBeaconsfield Film Studios
WebsiteOfficial website

Its community of students makes around a hundred and fifty films a year on courses that are over 90% practical and unlike courses offered at other UK film schools. As of 2021 it had over 500 students and about a fifteen hundred a year on its short courses delivered in Beaconsfield and at its hubs in Glasgow, Leeds and Cardiff. Beaconsfield Studios consists of film and television stages; animation and production design studios; edit suites; sound post-production facilities; a music recording studio and four dubbing theatres. The school completed an expansion and modernisation programme in early 2017 with new teaching facilities, a third cinema and a new 4K Television Studio.

The BBC stated that the NFTS was the "leading centre of excellence for education in film and television programme making", and noted that it was "relevant to the industry's present and future needs."[2] British Film Magazine once described the NFTS as being one of the few schools to come "very, very close" to guaranteeing a job in the film industry, and named its leader (Powell) a "maverick";[3] named it one of two films schools outside the US which had such a high international reputation.[4]

NFTS student films have been nominated for an Oscar three times in the last six years. Additionally, in 2017 NFTS graduation film, A Love Story, directed and co-written by Anushka Naanayakkara, won the British Short Animation BAFTA at the EE British Academy Film Awards, making it the fourth year in a row that NFTS students have picked up this accolade.[5] This is the second consecutive year that two of NFTS students' graduation films competed for the same prize, with A Love Story up against The Alan Dimension directed and co-written by Jac Clinch.[6] NFTS student films are regularly selected for the top film festivals around the world. In 2016–17 highlights included selections at Cannes and Annecy Animation Festival and top prizes in nearly all the Royal Television Society categories for which they are eligible.[7]

In 2018, the school was the recipient of the "BAFTA Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award" at the 71st British Academy Film Awards.[8][9]


One of the new NFTS buildings to be opened in 2017 (artist's impression).

The National Film School opened in 1971, the work of four years of planning to create an institution to train personnel for the British film industry. Department of Education and Science had in 1967 recommended the creation of a national film school for the UK, and in 1969 an inquiry led by Lord Lloyd of Hampstead began to develop plans. Colin Young CBE became the founding director in 1971, a post he held for more than 2 decades, at a time when the school produced alumni including Bill Forsyth, Terence Davies, Julien Temple, Beeban Kidron, and Nick Park.

In 2016, the NFTS announced it had received funding to increase the capacity of its site in Beaconsfield including a '4K Digital Content Production Training Studio' (a refit of the 1960s TV studio) and the addition of a number of new MA and diploma courses including Directing & Producing Natural History & Science; Production Technology; Marketing for Film, TV & Games; Graphics & Titles for Television & Film and Creative Business for Entrepreneurs & Executives. In April 2017, it was announced that Nik Powell was to step down as Director of the school,[10] with Jon Wardle succeeding him in the role.

The NFTS holds yearly graduation shows at the Picturehouse Central in Soho,[11] and they were previously held at the BFI Southbank (formerly known as the National Film Theatre). These are highly selective and invite-only events which showcase the students' projects to scouts and industry professionals, ensuring that the students receive maximum exposure.

Awards and nominations

Alumnus Nick Park has gone on to win four Oscars.

Alumni of the National Film and Television School have gone on to win Oscars, BAFTAs and Emmys as well as film festival prizes from around the world. In the last 6 years student films The Confession (2011), Head Over Heels (2013), The Bigger Picture (2015) have gone on to be nominated for three Oscars, and the graduation film A Love Story won the 2017 BAFTA for Best Short Animation, the fourth year in a row an NFTS animation has won the category.[12][13]

In 2013 the NFTS graduation film "Miss Todd" won the Student Academy Award for Best Foreign Film presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This marked the sixth time the NFTS had won in this category, more than any other Film School outside of the United States. In 2016, The National Film and Television School once again affirmed its place as the number one international film school by winning accolades in all three categories in the CILECT Prize, the global film school awards. The NFTS won "Best Documentary" for The Archipelago, "Best Animation" for Edmond and was awarded second prize in the "Fiction" category for Patriot.


A TV show being rehearsed in the TV Studio

The school's facilities were expanded in 2008 with the addition of new teaching spaces, public spaces and a new cinema, designed by Glenn Howells Architects. Upon its completion in 2008, the strikingly modern three-story building (see photo above) won a coveted RIBA prize.[14][15] In June 2009 it was formally named The Oswald Morris Building in honour of veteran cinematographer Ossie Morris.

Two new buildings and one refurbished building opened in January 2017. This included the refurbishment of the 4K Digital Content Production Training Studio, located in the original 1960s TV studio which was completely refurbished with state-of-the-art equipment. In July 2017 this building was named the "Sky Studios at the NFTS" building,[16] with the Production Galleries named "The Sony Gallery".[17] This studio is primarily used by the Camera, Sound & Vision Mixing for Television Production diploma course and the Directing and Producing Television Entertainment MA course.

Inside the "Channel 4 Rose Building",[16] there are new facilities for the Games Design and Development and Digital Effects MA courses, as well as an extra cinema, café and incubation space to enable graduates to start new businesses and accommodate new ground-breaking courses, enhancing the NFTS' already diverse programme.

A new teaching block on the north of the site houses a new studio, edit suites, dedicated suites for the Sound Design MA and Graphics and Titles for Film and Television diploma courses, as well as multi-purpose teaching spaces.

There are four dedicated stages on site:[18]

  • Stage 1 (Main Stage) – 7,000 square feet (650 m2) (approx.) – traditional wooden floor film stage with permanent scenic cloth
  • Studio 2 (TV Studio) – 3,600 square feet (330 m2) (approx.) – concrete resin floor television studio
  • Stage 3 (Rehearsal Stage) – 1,050 square feet (98 m2) (approx.) – traditional wooden floor film stage
  • Stage 4 (Teaching Block Stage) – 900 square feet (84 m2) (approx.) – resin floor multi-purpose stage

There are also a number of dedicated spaces for animation and music recording.


Until its repeal in 1986, the school was funded partly through a tax on cinema ticket sales known as the Eady Levy, named after then UK Treasury official Sir Wilfred Eady. The NFTS has since been funded by the UK Government, via (today) the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the television and film industries.

Key Partner Sponsors include the Film Distributors' Association and the UK Cinema Association in addition to the main UK terrestrial and satellite broadcasting companies BBC, Channel 4, Sky, and ITV. In addition, a large number of public and private donors fund scholarships to assist British students.

Postgraduate students from the UK can now apply for a loan to help with their studies at any UK university including the NFTS via the Student Loans Company.

Courses of studies


The school has around 110 full-time staff as well as many top tutors from within the industry.

Honorary Fellows

The National Film and Television School has named more than 30 honorary fellows.[22] The programme was founded in 1981, and ceremonies take place at the NTFS graduation ceremony each year. Honorary Fellows are recognised for their "outstanding contribution to the British film and television industry."[22]

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