Alexa Pellegrini for FilmSchool.org spoke with the LFS Admissions, Recruitment, Marketing and Workshops teams to help prospective filmmakers learn more about the application process, the high points of both its MA programmes, funding opportunities, and more.
Note: this interview took approximately 1.5 hours and runs a total of 16 pages. [Part 2] is available to our Supporting Members, without whom in-depth articles and interviews like this one would not be possible as FilmSchool.org is 100% advertisement free. Supporting Members also enjoy access to private student clubs and forums, full access to our database that tracks upwards of 3,700 film school applications, and the full Acceptance Data statistics for each film program such as our admissions data for London Film School – MA Screenwriting, London Film School – MA Filmmaking, London Film School Directing Summer School with accepted GPAs and demographics of accepted applicants and much more...
Why should an aspiring film student choose London Film School among all the other film schools in Great Britain?
In our MA Filmmaking programme, students are taught in production units of six, often with two lecturers assigned to a unit for practical classes. This structure yields a more personalized approach to learning the art and craft of filmmaking and an excellent staff-to-student ratio.
These units stay in place throughout the two years of the programme as students build a ready-made network of peers when graduating from the School when they enter the industry. As a multidisciplinary course – unique to the UK at this level – LFS graduates also enter the industry with a broader skill set and a true adaptability not found in specialized single-discipline courses.
The MA Screenwriting is an intensive one-year programme that develops the writer’s original voice, embeds professional practice and enhances employability. Graduate students work in film development groups composed of three to four students and chaired by one of our industry practitioners. There is also the option to study writing for TV and Radio.
Like our MA Filmmaking programme, this course is delivered by a core team of working film industry professionals — including screenwriters, development executives, and script editors. Students receive a sector-leading amount of individualized feedback on their work throughout the programme.
Name the unique application requirements for each LFS MA programme?
Each course requires various pieces of documentation, including (but not limited to):
- Proof of academic and/or professional qualifications
- Proof of English Language (if applicable)
- 1 written personal statement
- References to support your application
LFS also recommends all applicants research funding opportunities prior to applying. It is very important to know how you are going to fund going to film school before you receive an offer of study.
What does the LFS interview process look like?
Whilst our MA Filmmaking and MA Screenwriting programmes have individual entry requirements, including differing portfolio requirements, both require interview rounds as part of our Admissions process. MA applicants who meet and exceed our minimum entry requirements designated by the LFS Academy Registry, and submit a competitive portfolio are invited to an online interview.
During the interview, the admissions committee discusses applications in more detail. The interview process is led by a member of the LFS Academic body, with the aim to:
- Review the candidate's suitability to the programme
- Evaluate the candidate's likelihood of successfully completing the course
- Explore the selection criteria amongst the individual application
The application and interview are evaluated individually and in competition with other applications when determining any offer of study. There is no additional round of interviews. Offers of study are made following the final evaluation process.
What basic information about applying to LFS should every prospective student know?
LFS welcomes applications from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. We have a hugely diverse filmmaking talent pool amongst our applicants and student cohorts.
It is vitally important to familiarize yourself with the individual entry requirements for each course. LFS’ MA Filmmaking and MA Screenwriting programmes seek different entry and portfolio requirements.
What does the admissions time frame look like?
The average time frame to receive an interview depends on whether a candidate is applying for the MA Filmmaking or MA Screenwriting programme. Each course has a slightly different application process. It may take around eight weeks from the point of submitting your complete application to hear about the next steps.
The final decision time frame varies by programme. Typically, we share final admissions decisions within eight weeks after the final application review.
How can LFS students take advantage of studying in London to develop their filmmaking skills?
Since the 1960s, London Film School has been situated in the heart of Covent Garden, adjacent to Soho’s film industry hub and accessible from across the capital. LFS is within walking distance of West End cinemas and theatres, the Royal Opera House, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the British Film Institute Library, the BFI Southbank, and the Tate Modern. In any given week throughout the entire year, there are more films showing in London than in any other capital UK city.
Central London offers LFS students access to many informal film and media groups, events and opportunities, and the school often hosts events in collaboration with like-minded film organizations. Social events run throughout each term and include cultural evenings, lectures and debates, and parties.
Tell us about LFS’ facilities and film equipment?
LFS’ main campus building, a former brewery and banana warehouse for the old Covent Garden market, now houses two shooting stages, a third teaching studio, two cinemas with both 35mm and the latest digital projection capabilities.
During students’ studies, London Film School provides access to a range of industry equipment and facilities such as Deluxe Post-Production, Warner Bros. De Lane Lea, Molinare, Panalux, Cooke Optics, Arri Rentals, 3 Mills Studios, and many more.
We also have post-production suites that run industry-standard AVID editing software, dedicated sound recording and post-production facilities, a production design studio, and additional teaching and green room spaces. LFS also makes use of nearby spaces including an annexe building on Long Acre (a 1-minute walk from the main building) for teaching, workshops, and office accommodations.
Normally, there are no additional fees for equipment usage. Tuition fees include production costs for the film exercises in Terms 1-5 and up to £5,060 per students’ graduation film project.
Name your most popular film MA programme?
Historically, we receive more applications to our MA Filmmaking programme. It has three intakes per year: September, January and May. This allows more students to take the course with small filmmaking cohorts.
The MA Screenwriting programme has only one intake per year in September, so we have fewer applicants to this course.
Tell us about your MA International Film Business programme and how it prepares students to become film industry leaders?
Film students take modules in international finance and world cinema. They also experience a field trip to a film festival and markets to prepare for higher level careers in programming, exhibition, and distribution.
Past LFS student mentors have included Sandra Hebron (former Artistic Director of the London Film Festival), Max Park (Film4), Linsday Poulton (Guardian Documentaries), Mathieu Djang (BFI Network), Elizabeth Karlsen (Number 9 Films), Mercy Liao (Universal China/IMAX), and Yvonne Ibazebo (producer of Top Boy).
Describe the basics and benefits of LFS’ workshops, such as the Writers’ Gym (Online).
LFS Workshops contain a range of evening, weekend, and short professional development courses, with the emphasis on practical, hands-on, intensive learning.
Our Writer’s Gym workshop aims to refresh and deliver an injection of creative energy into our students’ writing process. Writers learn more from the experience of trying out different screenwriting techniques than following an instruction book. We give the students who take the Writer’s Gym workshop the chance to experiment, have fun, write with playfulness, and come up with fresh story ideas.
For the most part, LFS Workshops that do not require applications can be attended by anyone. Workshops with applications may require a certain level of film knowledge and may or may not be eligible to all LFS students. This is usually determined by the tutor.
There is no single Workshop that we recommend for new filmmakers. The best Workshop depends on the craft each student wants to specialize in. For directing, we typically recommend one of our Summer Programmes. Dates and deadlines can be found on our website.
Historically, what is your most popular Workshop and why?
LFS’ Art Department Workshops, such as ‘Absolute Beginners: Practical Skills for Getting a Start in the Art Dept’ or ‘Technical Drawing for Film & Television’, are always the most popular. We have come to be known for our excellence in teaching and have hugely supportive tutors that are all actively working in the film industry.
Typically, there is a large knowledge gap in Art Department juniors who are looking to move up. So, our Workshops help bridge that gap by teaching them industry-standard skills.
How does each LFS Summer School course differ from Workshops?
LFS’ Summer School is highly practical and aimed at anyone who is serious about a career in film – from those about to apply to film school, to anyone wishing to improve their understanding of the craft before embarking on making their own short films.
We offer Directing Summer School with Udayan Prasad and Beginners Summer School. Both LFS summer courses offer each participant the opportunity to write, direct and edit their own short film with a professional cast and crew. In addition, participants gain vital film industry experience by taking several on-set roles.
Udayan Prasad is the head tutor of our Directing Summer School. Udayan is an award-winning drama director who has worked with some of Britain’s finest actors and writers. His film My Son the Fanatic was selected for Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and has won a host of awards. The Yellow Handkerchief, starring William Hurt, Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne opened the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.
Udayan has also directed large scale television productions including key episodes of The Tunnel for Sky Atlantic, and hugely successful BBC production The Musketeers. He has also directed commercials and has filmed with major global agencies including DDB, JWT, McCanns and Ogilvy. He also teaches directing at film schools across Europe. Udayan’s recent credits include the Netflix series, Selection Day.
Our Beginners Summer School is tutored by Chi Yu, a former LFS student and full-time staff member who has led several workshops and classes.
A few participants of LFS’ ScreenSkills-funded Art Department courses went on to do work experience on the latest James Bond film. In our most recent cohort of Beginners, one of the participants went on to work as a draftsperson on an ITV miniseries.
How has the Directing Summer School course helped past participants further their directing careers?
Take a look at this feedback we received from prior Directing Summer School participants:
"LFS’ Summer School gave me the tools and the self-confidence to shoot my first feature comedy film, DOWN DOG. It was selected for the Raindance Film Festival and screened at UK cinemas in 2015. I'm also working on a new TV series with Mondo, another participant from 2012."
"Two months after the Summer School, I left my job of four years to become a producer. One of my first shorts as co-producer, SOME CANDID OBSERVATIONS ON THE EVE OF THE END OF THE WORLD, premièred at the 2014 London Film Festival. Supported by Film London, it won the London Calling Best Film Jury Award by Film London, before being BAFTA long listed in the Short Film Category. I then produced three bonus features for the feature documentary STILL THE ENEMY WITHIN for its online and DVD, released in 2015. The film won the Sheffield DocFest Audience Award.
My role was divided between producing extra footage/interviews and editing and producing. Two of my films screened at the 2015 London Short Film Festival. One was a dark comedy called SHUT UP. The original story was by the director and writer Sam Bain (best known for the Channel 4 sitcom PEEP SHOW). The other, GONE, was a branded narrative short spec for Kleenex, faux-documentary style."
"I attended LFS’ Summer School the same year I graduated from the MA Screenwriting programme at LFS. Since then, I have been supported through Creative England to write and develop a feature film, which I am also attached to direct. In addition to this I am slated to direct a micro-budget feature called SHEPHERD, which is currently in development. I am also scheduled to direct a short film in the spring of 2015 with support from Film London and the NLFP Film Fund."*
(Editor’s note: LFS Summer School alumni have requested they remain anonymous.)
How can LFS applicants increase their odds of getting the BAFTA UK Programme scholarship at the full amount of 12,000 GBP?
The BAFTA UK Programme is available to all UK-based MA programme students. But LFS is not involved in the selection process for BAFTA scholarships, so it is hard to say.
Our advice is to not put all your hopes into receiving one scholarship and to instead research diverse funding options to increase your chances of getting financial support. And the earlier you start the research process, the better. Many scholarships and bursary programmes for film students close early in the application cycle.
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