As the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) approaches its 50th anniversary, a new report has revealed how its graduates are meeting the growing demand for creative talent.
Since its launch in 1971, more than 3,900 graduates have passed through the doors of the school and been recognised with 450 Bafta nominations to date. The NFTS itself was awarded both the BAFTA for Oustanding British Contribution to Cinema and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2018.
But at a time when there is significant demand for below-the-line talent in the UK, where the tax credit has contributed to a boom in the production of international high-budget features shooting in the UK, the contribution of the school to the industry is more important now than ever.
As spend on inward investment on productions in the UK hit a record £3.07bn in 2019, the report reveals 97% of the biggest budget inward- investment films since 2015 had NFTS graduate involvement. Some 17 of its alumni worked on Stars Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker including production sound mixer Stuart Wilson and art director Patrick Harris, while other graduates include Fantastic Beasts… filmmaker David Yates and Roger Deakins, the Oscar-winning cinematographer of 1917.
To meet the demand, the school now runs more behind-the-camera courses than any other film school in the world from directing and cinematography to specialisms including script supervision and production accounting.
These translate into jobs as the graduate employment rate now stands at 93%. NFTS alumni also achieve major success in a relatively short time, one such example being Krysty Wilson-Cairns who took the screenwriting course in 2011 and won a Bafta for her work on 1917, which she co-wrote with director Sam Mendes.
Notably, the NFTS has also become more diverse and inclusive to better represent the UK population and one in four recent graduates are from BAME backgrounds in stark contrast to the 3% in the industry overall.
The Graduate Impact Report, compiled by OC&C Strategy Consultants, also highlighted more than 50% of the biggest UK box office successes since 2015 have had at least one NFTS alumni in a key role. Furthermore graduates of the school contributed to projects with a combined budget of £9bn since 2015, constituting 85% of total UK film production spend.
Looking to the future, the NFTS has committed to support the growth in productions that take place outside of London and is establishing hubs in the nations and regions. In 2017, the school secured a grant from the Scottish government to open a new hub in Glasgow and earlier this year opened a second hub in Leeds. These will aim to meet the needs of the local production economy and demand for places on the courses has outstripped supply.
Additionally, the NFTS is moving into new areas to support wider parts of the industry and now delivers specialist training in distribution, exhibition, production accounting and games. More recently, it announced a move into casting to meet growing demand from the industry and boost inclusivity on screen.
“No other single education institution or scheme can point to a record of accomplishment that has delivered talent and skills for the industry on the scale of the NFTS,” said the school’s director Jon Wardle. “Our success is totally disproportionate to our small size and I couldn’t be prouder of what the School and its graduates have achieved. Moving forward, we will continue our mission which is to produce the people that power production both in the UK and globally.”