Anybody Know Anything About NFTS?

Hey people,

I'm wondering if anybody reading this forum has gone through the graduate program at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK, and what they think of the program.
 

Same question here , I'm about to send out my application the Directing Fiction programme at the NFTS.
I would like to know if there any students/alumni here who coud answer my questions...
I have specific questions:
1) what kind of treatment would it be more effective to send: short film or feature treatment?
2)What do they do with the referees contacts if they dont ask reference letters to be sent direclty to them with the application...
thanks!
3) any other advice would be great!
 
Hi guys,

No one seems to be replying to this so I thought I would try and answer some of your questions! I Haven't been on the course, but I know someone who's been through it quite a while ago (8+ years), and I've recently been to the Directing Fiction and Documentary Direction open days.

First off, you need to know exactly the direction you want to go in, you can't change it. If it's directing fiction, you will be the director, and you will be in drama - you can't cross over to documentary etc. The school is very well taught, and the alumni go on to do great things. You have to be very focussed, and personally I wouldn't enter the place without a few years of industry experience whether runner/researcher/PA work. The average age for documentary is 28, similar for drama.

UK education is is very directional, and if you know what you want and how to get it, it's excellent. Europe is very close by, so you can shoot films abroad on the cheap.

The American system teaches the hell out of you, you learn everything, which depending on how you work, can be an advantage if you need brushing up on different aspects of production. As an aspiring director wanting to go to a grad school in the states, I like this method as if I work on small productions in the future it would be terrific to have the skill set to edit and photograph a film to a high standard myself.

The UK way is basically leaving you to do your own thing - which personally I hate but this isn't about me!

The emphasis at NFTS is all about narrative. For documentary it's all about narrative, and you only shoot on DV. Production quality aside, the stuff that comes out of there is amazing. Fiction has 16/35 and probably HD, but again it's all on narrative. the production design department is where they spend the most money, the sets look fantastic.

ALL production course is covered for all courses. You get a budget for each and every short you make, even the feature at the end. No one can add funds, you all work within the same financial restraints.

Hope this helps!

Daniel
 
Hi,
I have decided to share my experience at NFTS in the hope that it will help you taking a decision.
I have graduated at NFTS not so many years ago and these are some of my reasons for regretting it:

MONEY
The course is very expensive and to that there is to add accommodation and living. Really for many of the courses is very difficult to keep travelling from/ to London, as trains connecting are not very frequent, you feel you are missing out, and obviously the added price of an year travel card. I have come out with a huge debt that pushed me to have to get all the jobs I could...which eventually effected my work and reputation. And even worst my passion .. if you keep doing bad work because you must it really digs into your ability to love what you are doing. Trust me,...a huge debt is not what you need to get started.

THE GAME
A part a few very nice caring people NFTS feels like an Industry...ruthless and money driven. The reason why you have heard of NFTS and not LFS is because NFTS takes good care of advertising its successful student. This may seem a positive but really is not. Hang with me here. Once you have paid and you are in you are going to have to fight for things that you would think were part of your curriculum. Basic stuff: Tutor interest in your work and feedbacks are not given unless you literally pray for it..equipment availability is a real battle (they just haven't got enough for all the students, which has gone from 6 to 8...why? money )... opportunities are not distributed equally at all. The school will spot the few that they think "they have it" (and I would remind that this is such a limited vision driven by personal taste) and they will push them over you. You will see all great opportunities going in their hands with ease and yourself left fighting for the basic.
If you are looking for mentors, for a creative environment where you can be yourself and find your true voice, if you believe in film as an art, NFTS is not for you.

ATHMOSPERE
I can't even start to tell you how much I have suffered in the two years at NFTS. I have never seen a more *****y, competitive and fake environment in all my life. Once people are in and the see the way it works it's a every man for himself situation.. grab all you can or you won't get any at all. And if that was stated and clear wouldn't be a problem...but the worst part is that everyone seems to be everyone else best friend..till you get stabbed in the back.
This may sound over the top, but I promise is not. Imagine that every person that goes there feels like this is a make it or break it situation, not because they are like that, but that is the way they make you feel about it all... and that really brings the worst out of people. I never felt so lonely.
It's crazy..even the staff *****es and creates tensions..they have fights and attempts to sabotages amongst departments. I mean..this is meant to be a school.
Surely, you'll find the nice people and the one that do not get affected that much, but be ready to be the one left out of the games if you are not doing all in you can to get your opportunities over others.

FINAL THOUGHTS

You may be thinking I could be a very sensitive person, that maybe has to have the right atmosphere around himself to feel comfortable. Well, I am not.
I have moved out of my country when I was 18, went to other schools and lived with many different kind of people in many different situations, some very tense, trust me. But NFTS top them all. So keep that in mind.
Also I want to underline that that is the way the Industry works, so really it may be a good training ground. My problem is that out there you get paid for fighting...in NFTS you pay, and a lot. This is the national school... It should be a place of equal opportunities not a mirror of an unjust world, a place where people are helped to develop their talent and art, not a factory of Hollywood machines, a place where one feels part of a team, not a man in a fight for survival.
And this is why I don't advice NFTS to all of you.. I do advice it if you are ruthless, if you know how to play the game, if you know how play THEM.

NFTS GRADUATE with many awards

(By the way..I had to keep anonymous because I am afraid of the repercussions of me saying what I felt in my time there...Even if I am out since years. First unspoken rule at NFTS...never talk bad about NFTS or you'll be excluded. Fear.)
 
Hey NFTS GRADUATE,

Thanks for sharing your experience at the NFTS. I am frankly a bit puzzled by your comment, I am just now trying to collect different opinions about the school from alumni and so far a lot of them give fairly positive remarks about the school and their careers after that. Thing is I have been offered a place for next year and basically I am trying to find out if it is worth to spend so much money on it or not. I would like to ask you the thing I reckon is probably most important to make it and that could really make a difference to me on whether to accept the place or not: aside from your awful experience inside the school, what has happened to you after graduated? Does it really make a difference in the industry to have studied there? We all know how important is to have the right network if you want to work in the industry. Do you think the NFTS gives you the right connections to start working properly after you graduate?

Thanks,
t

Originally posted by NFTS GRADUATE:
Hi,
I have decided to share my experience at NFTS in the hope that it will help you taking a decision.
I have graduated at NFTS not so many years ago and these are some of my reasons for regretting it:

[...]

And this is why I don't advice NFTS to all of you.. I do advice it if you are ruthless, if you know how to play the game, if you know how play THEM.

NFTS GRADUATE with many awards

(By the way..I had to keep anonymous because I am afraid of the repercussions of me saying what I felt in my time there...Even if I am out since years. First unspoken rule at NFTS...never talk bad about NFTS or you'll be excluded. Fear.)
 
Hey NFTS GRADUATE,

Thanks for sharing your experience at the NFTS. I am frankly a bit puzzled by your comment, I am just now trying to collect different opinions about the school from alumni and so far a lot of them give fairly positive remarks about the school and their careers after that. Thing is I have been offered a place for next year and basically I am trying to find out if it is worth to spend so much money on it or not. I would like to ask you the thing I reckon is probably most important to make it and that could really make a difference to me on whether to accept the place or not: aside from your awful experience inside the school, what has happened to you after graduated? Does it really make a difference in the industry to have studied there? We all know how important is to have the right network if you want to work in the industry. Do you think the NFTS gives you the right connections to start working properly after you graduate?

Thanks,
t
I graduated NFTS. I don`t have as bad opinion as "NFTS GADUATE".

1. For sure school is NOT worth that money!!! It is NOT worth to make debt just to pay tuition fee etc. I agree that: "a huge debt is not what you need to get started.". You can go there if you are rich or have some funding or scholarship. Spending your own money is very risky and I can bet after school you will have to get all the jobs except focusing on doing something good or interesting.

2. "Tutor interest in your work and feedbacks are not given unless you literally pray for it".. it is not exactly like that but it is quite close to the truth. There are not so many worth "talking to" tutors. Feedbacks are so often not so helpful. Lot of bull****. They don`t care so much about your work, that is why most of films are not so good. Also the problem is that the selection process is not so effective. I felt that lot of students shouldn`t even be there. Fact is that before the year begins many students drop their places so lot of people from reserved lists get in. In my opinion now it is quite easy to get in. School is getting quite commercial.

3. "I have never seen a more *****y, competitive and fake environment in all my life".. This is not true at all. Most of the students are nice. Good atmosphere. Nice film community. If you can afford 5 beers per week you can spend lovely 2 years. I also didn`t feel "but be ready to be the one left out of the games if you are not doing all in you can to get your opportunities over others." There is no competitive environment because education level is quite average. There are of course students who think they are second Tarantino or Lynch but their films and skills don`t follow their minds.

4. "It should be a place of equal opportunities not a mirror of an unjust world, a place where people are helped to develop their talent and art, not a factory of Hollywood machines, a place where one feels part of a team, not a man in a fight for survival." The school is for sure NOT "factory of Hollywood machines", and NOT "a place where one feels part of a team, not a man in a fight for survival". You are all the time part of the team doing projects as member of real film crew. School is also NOT "a mirror of an unjust world". NFTS is a place of equal opportunities and place where people can develop their talent and art but the problem is that there are not so many people with THE TALENT there.

5. "equipment availability is a real battle". It is not true but there is not enough equipment and sometimes you need to wait or book it. Of course if you are screenwriter and you want to rent a camera etc. you are at the end of the queue.

6. This is also bullshit "First unspoken rule at NFTS...never talk bad about NFTS or you'll be excluded". I guess someone wants to do a bad opinion to this school.

7. Summarise: If you have enough money you should try. Maybe it is the first and the last time you will ever do any "professional" film. Don`t expect that the doors to the industry will open. The truth is that after this school no one is waiting for you, doors are closed as they were and there are no too many opportunities. If you will end up with huge debt just forget about this school. If you did "something" before just keep doing it and forget about this school. If you have real opportunities in the industry also forget about this school. In the school you can meet few nice people, make a small portfolio, maybe learn few hints (not any secrets). If you will be lucky you will be in the industry but with luck you can make it anyway. The best way to make sure that this is not lie just check resumes, websites of NFTS alumni. It is hard to find something impressive there.

p.s. I also don`t believe in this "NFTS GRADUATE with many awards".. most of those awards are probable one big joke. There are thousand of festivals all around the world only few are really worth something. You were not there. Maybe you didn`t even graduate NFTS.
 

CASPAR

New Member
Thanks NFTS Graduate and MichaelSwet for sharing your thoughts and experiences on NFTS Directing Fiction. I'm also going to apply and had the impression that NFTS is the best film school in UK.. and not even that expensive compared to some filmmaking courses at various universities that ask 8.000 a year, whereas NFTS asks 11.000 a year.
and LFS asks about 26.000 a year!!

MichaelSwet, I wanted to know what you consider TALENT. I find it hard to believe that there's not so many people with THE TALENT at NFTS if only 8 out of 400(?) people are offered a place? Or is this because many people drop their places just before the year begins and people on waiting lists get in?

From what I've seen on Vimeo, NFTS graduates make professional films. I'm curious to know which film school DOES actually have TALENTED graduates? Or do you mean to say that NFTS graduates are not as talented as one would expect, given the reputation of the school?
 
Most of the things that have been agreed upon by NFTS Graduate and MichaelSwet aren't even things I'm totally afraid of. My previous film school had some of that, as well. What I've mostly learned is that just about all film schools will ask for quite a bit of dough, if you want to be featured, you've GOTTA work for it, and I mean you can't be cocky, and although willing to do everything, you've got to have the skills to do everything to impress. And yeah, gear checkout will always be a juggle.

Here's my main question, for those that got in: How long does it take between the application deadline, and the time when they start notifying people if they got in? I woke up today to find that my supporting materials for editing are now at the school.
 
Hi,
I have decided to share my experience at NFTS in the hope that it will help you taking a decision.
I have graduated at NFTS not so many years ago and these are some of my reasons for regretting it:

MONEY
The course is very expensive and to that there is to add accommodation and living. Really for many of the courses is very difficult to keep travelling from/ to London, as trains connecting are not very frequent, you feel you are missing out, and obviously the added price of an year travel card. I have come out with a huge debt that pushed me to have to get all the jobs I could...which eventually effected my work and reputation. And even worst my passion .. if you keep doing bad work because you must it really digs into your ability to love what you are doing. Trust me,...a huge debt is not what you need to get started.

THE GAME
A part a few very nice caring people NFTS feels like an Industry...ruthless and money driven. The reason why you have heard of NFTS and not LFS is because NFTS takes good care of advertising its successful student. This may seem a positive but really is not. Hang with me here. Once you have paid and you are in you are going to have to fight for things that you would think were part of your curriculum. Basic stuff: Tutor interest in your work and feedbacks are not given unless you literally pray for it..equipment availability is a real battle (they just haven't got enough for all the students, which has gone from 6 to 8...why? money )... opportunities are not distributed equally at all. The school will spot the few that they think "they have it" (and I would remind that this is such a limited vision driven by personal taste) and they will push them over you. You will see all great opportunities going in their hands with ease and yourself left fighting for the basic.
If you are looking for mentors, for a creative environment where you can be yourself and find your true voice, if you believe in film as an art, NFTS is not for you.

ATHMOSPERE
I can't even start to tell you how much I have suffered in the two years at NFTS. I have never seen a more *****y, competitive and fake environment in all my life. Once people are in and the see the way it works it's a every man for himself situation.. grab all you can or you won't get any at all. And if that was stated and clear wouldn't be a problem...but the worst part is that everyone seems to be everyone else best friend..till you get stabbed in the back.
This may sound over the top, but I promise is not. Imagine that every person that goes there feels like this is a make it or break it situation, not because they are like that, but that is the way they make you feel about it all... and that really brings the worst out of people. I never felt so lonely.
It's crazy..even the staff *****es and creates tensions..they have fights and attempts to sabotages amongst departments. I mean..this is meant to be a school.
Surely, you'll find the nice people and the one that do not get affected that much, but be ready to be the one left out of the games if you are not doing all in you can to get your opportunities over others.

FINAL THOUGHTS

You may be thinking I could be a very sensitive person, that maybe has to have the right atmosphere around himself to feel comfortable. Well, I am not.
I have moved out of my country when I was 18, went to other schools and lived with many different kind of people in many different situations, some very tense, trust me. But NFTS top them all. So keep that in mind.
Also I want to underline that that is the way the Industry works, so really it may be a good training ground. My problem is that out there you get paid for fighting...in NFTS you pay, and a lot. This is the national school... It should be a place of equal opportunities not a mirror of an unjust world, a place where people are helped to develop their talent and art, not a factory of Hollywood machines, a place where one feels part of a team, not a man in a fight for survival.
And this is why I don't advice NFTS to all of you.. I do advice it if you are ruthless, if you know how to play the game, if you know how play THEM.

NFTS GRADUATE with many awards

(By the way..I had to keep anonymous because I am afraid of the repercussions of me saying what I felt in my time there...Even if I am out since years. First unspoken rule at NFTS...never talk bad about NFTS or you'll be excluded. Fear.)
 
Hi NFTS Graduate,

I couldn't agree more on your analysis of NFTS and I feel the strong need to back you up with an account of my own experience, which I'll break down into the same categories you did.

MONEY

The course is very expensive and you'll have to either move to Beaconsfield or do a hell of a commute. I hate to say it, but the school operates as a studio and you are labouring for free to promote the school.

THE GAME

NFTS is the most ruthless, cut throat environment I have ever been in. Nik Powell (head of the school) will only help certain people -his favourites. Often the people he helps are the ones that have proved themselves to be utterly ruthless - a girl comes to mind who stole another girls work who was a favourite of Nik's. Jon Wardle, the registrar, is a total bully, and you'll have to go through a couple of excruciatingly patronising and insulting interviews with him before you're allowed to graduate.

Yes--getting in is just the beginning! Once there, you can be expect to be pushed to your absolute limit by your teachers - very few of whom are actually nice people. It is common to see people having total emotional crying meltdowns during and after reviews from teachers. I encountered a couple of teachers who were downright sadistic and seemed to want to see me fail (which I didn't, and the both teachers both left whilst I was still there, thankfully).

The political tension within the school is unbelievable. Teachers having affairs with each others wives, wtf! During my tenure, a visiting tutor who had her eye on the position of head of documentary department (which was already filled by someone who had been doing it for years) tried to sabotage the entire department in her attempt to steal this guy's job from him. This had such a knock on effect that the filming of all 8 documentaries that year had to be postponed.

ATMOSPHERE

The most bitchy, fake atmosphere I've been in since my days at an elitist boarding school. Everyone is in so much fear about being criticised that they constantly bitch about everyone else and bring other people down to try to take the heat off themselves. NFTS will take the nicest, purest person into a selfish ****. I know, it happened to me.

Obviously, you're in a small town, you're under a lot of pressure and you're creatives - you're going to end up partying very hard at times and hook-ups will happen. Be prepared for everyone in the school to be salivating over the juicy details of what you did the next Monday! Yes, this is more high school than high school itself.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This place very much reflects the nature of the film industry. But you should be getting paid a hell of a lot for working so hard and under as much stress as you do at NFTS. Be very, VERY wary of the way they promote their successful graduates and imply that it will never be difficult for an NFTS grad to get work, which is not true. Once you graduate, NFTS does not have a use for you anymore, and it will be very difficult to get the school to hook you up with their connections unless they are convinced you are the next big thing.
 
Hi NFTS Graduate,

I couldn't agree more on your analysis of NFTS and I feel the strong need to back you up with an account of my own experience, which I'll break down into the same categories you did.

MONEY

The course is very expensive and you'll have to either move to Beaconsfield or do a hell of a commute. I hate to say it, but the school operates as a studio and you are labouring for free to promote the school.

THE GAME

NFTS is the most ruthless, cut throat environment I have ever been in. Nik Powell (head of the school) will only help certain people -his favourites. Often the people he helps are the ones that have proved themselves to be utterly ruthless - a girl comes to mind who stole another girls work who was a favourite of Nik's. Jon Wardle, the registrar, is a total bully, and you'll have to go through a couple of excruciatingly patronising and insulting interviews with him before you're allowed to graduate.

Yes--getting in is just the beginning! Once there, you can be expect to be pushed to your absolute limit by your teachers - very few of whom are actually nice people. It is common to see people having total emotional crying meltdowns during and after reviews from teachers. I encountered a couple of teachers who were downright sadistic and seemed to want to see me fail (which I didn't, and the both teachers both left whilst I was still there, thankfully).

The political tension within the school is unbelievable. Teachers having affairs with each others wives, wtf! During my tenure, a visiting tutor who had her eye on the position of head of documentary department (which was already filled by someone who had been doing it for years) tried to sabotage the entire department in her attempt to steal this guy's job from him. This had such a knock on effect that the filming of all 8 documentaries that year had to be postponed.

ATMOSPHERE

The most bitchy, fake atmosphere I've been in since my days at an elitist boarding school. Everyone is in so much fear about being criticised that they constantly bitch about everyone else and bring other people down to try to take the heat off themselves. NFTS will take the nicest, purest person into a selfish ****. I know, it happened to me.

Obviously, you're in a small town, you're under a lot of pressure and you're creatives - you're going to end up partying very hard at times and hook-ups will happen. Be prepared for everyone in the school to be salivating over the juicy details of what you did the next Monday! Yes, this is more high school than high school itself.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This place very much reflects the nature of the film industry. But you should be getting paid a hell of a lot for working so hard and under as much stress as you do at NFTS. Be very, VERY wary of the way they promote their successful graduates and imply that it will never be difficult for an NFTS grad to get work, which is not true. Once you graduate, NFTS does not have a use for you anymore, and it will be very difficult to get the school to hook you up with their connections unless they are convinced you are the next big thing.
This wasn't my experience at all!! I'm not sure we went to the same NFTS.

I can't speak more highly of time at the NFTS. I almost went to the LFS then realised it was twice as expensive as the NFTS and that there was no gaurantees I'd get to direct all the projects I worked on.

The tutors at the NFTS were really helpful, the equipment was very good and the other students were all really talented and committed. I didn't have much to do with Nik Powell or Jon Wardle (those two meetings you had were assessments!!), but when I did they were always really helpful.

Sorry you had a bad experience but I don't know anyone personally who went to the School who has anything other than good things to say about the place
 
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This kind of response always gives me pause because while I know each speaks of the party depending on how much fun they personally had... I also know no one EVER wants to speak ill of an expensive school they attended when they're banking on the reputation of it helping them along, so I can't help but wonder how many might be thinking the same and just stay quiet in fear or direct or indirect repercussions?

Some food for thought. Maybe.
 
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This kind of response always gives me pause because while I know each speaks of the party depending on how much fun they personally had... I also know no one EVER wants to speak ill of an expensive school they attended when they're banking on the reputation of it helping them along, so I can't help but wonder how many might be thinking the same and just stay quiet in fear or direct or indirect repercussions?

Some food for thought. Maybe.
That is why you need to find alumni and speak to them face by face. No one would tell you the truth on public forum. Come on, people are scared..

And then whatever they will tell you you need to check by yourself. Now you have internet you can do it quite quick. Lot of people say they do so amazing after NFTS... and you can very easy find out they do mostly free jobs for the last 5 years, mom and dad pay the rent and bills or they still live with them for free..
 
Thanks NFTS Graduate and MichaelSwet for sharing your thoughts and experiences on NFTS Directing Fiction. I'm also going to apply and had the impression that NFTS is the best film school in UK.. and not even that expensive compared to some filmmaking courses at various universities that ask 8.000 a year, whereas NFTS asks 11.000 a year.
and LFS asks about 26.000 a year!!

MichaelSwet, I wanted to know what you consider TALENT. I find it hard to believe that there's not so many people with THE TALENT at NFTS if only 8 out of 400(?) people are offered a place? Or is this because many people drop their places just before the year begins and people on waiting lists get in?

From what I've seen on Vimeo, NFTS graduates make professional films. I'm curious to know which film school DOES actually have TALENTED graduates? Or do you mean to say that NFTS graduates are not as talented as one would expect, given the reputation of the school?
1. 8 out of 400... where do you get your info? there are max 200-250 applicants for each course and this info you can get on exams from the tutors. Now they accept 10.. soon 12 people.. look who do they accept.. MUST is: 4 girls...4 boys... then combination...2 from England.. (good if 1 from Scotland)... 2 from EU.. 2-3 from outside EU (they pay double fee)... 1-2 black/indian.. those are priorities. No one will tell you this on official NFTS site. But when you are in, study you can hear those things.. there are MA courses where school is not able to find even 8 people for a year so for example they ask students to find someone from their friends. People drop places because it is too expensive (tuition plus living without work) or they don`t like the school after month or so.. Then yes, people from waiting lists get in.

2. Tell me names of those people who "make professional films"? Someone above said it and I can only repeat... people work for free or very low rates, do corporate videos if they can etc, most of alumni find different profession and leave film forever.. Of course I know one person who works in BBC for last 7 years doing some crap.. Or other who works in CH4 for "funny-money"... or someone who works in the industry (school never helped to get that job) but this person needs to do completely other things there.. So names please... you can send prv.
 

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