EXCLUSIVE: “Exceptional year” for NFTS directors sees duo signed early by Independent Talent; United Talent also takes on graduate.

Independent Talent has already signed two directors from the National Film and Television School, which hosted its graduation ceremony on Friday. Both Mahalia Belo and Jamie Magnus Stone were snapped up by Independent agents amid strong competition off the back of their talked-about shorts.

Belo’s Volume [pictured] was among the shorts generating most buzz at Thursday’s showcase. Impressively shot by Chloe Thomson, a camera trainee on Fox’s Gulliver’s Travels, the cast includes up and comer (and Screen 2011 Star of Tomorrow) Joe Cole (Offender, Skins), Anna Brewster (Luther, Material Girl) and Jamie Sives (Get Him to the Greek, Clash of the Titans) in a drama about an enigmatic girl who goes missing.

Stone, already a BAFTA Scotland winner, wrote and directed Skyborn, which records the plight of the last surviving people on earth who must construct an elaborate flying machine to escape perpetual smog.

United Agents had already signed Michael Lennox (Coming Up), director of 9 Lives.

NFTS director Nik Powell told Screen: “What is exceptional about this year is having three directors signed up before graduation. On the writers side last year, most got an agent soon after leaving the school but the directors normally get signed up after the show. I’m trying to create an exceptional school with strong competition for places so this makes me very pleased. The grads are getting better every year.”

The school also announced honorary fellowships for Barbara Broccoli and Lynne Ramsay while this year’s Christie Prize went to graduate Abigail Dankwa.

Last year’s NFTS animation short Abuelas secured a BAFTA nomination in 2012 while another of this year’s crop The Betrayal has already won Best Student Documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

NFTS has a production partnership with Vertigo Films and announced a creative partnership with Youtube last year. Former NFTS graduates include David Yates, Roger Deakins and Terence Davies.