Sunday, 22 April 2012

Great Schools of Animation: National Film and Television School (UK)

National Film and Television School: Beaconsfield

"The NFTS is right at the heart of training for the Industry"  (David Yates)

The National Film and Television School is situated some 25 miles from London in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. It is considered to be one of the foremost international centres of excellence for television and film. As well as short courses, NFTS offers the two year post graduate MA in a variety of technical areas, the Animation Department being one of many. It has only eight students in any one year. They arrive from all over the world joining a mix of approximately 160 full-time students in varied industry related fields. Students in their first year experience the full diversity of animation techniques, specialising in their second year when they work as part of a project team. As a directing course, entry requirements are for students able to lead and collaborate. For Fees click on the link. Nick Park and Mark Baker are two alumni.  Entry requirements are tough. Course tutors are industry professionals and include the illustrious Caroline Leaf, Barry Purves, Ossie Parker and Marjut Rimminen. Facilities are now excellent given the new building, above, housing state of the art facilities. Discounted rates are given for transport to London Marylebone.

So to some actual work, in trailer form, sadly, as the pieces are brand spanking new and just about to go on the festival circuit, chosen to illustrate both the quality and variety of animation forms pursued at the school, as well as the collaborative nature of the project films:

Given Nick Park's appearance above, it is no wonder stop motion is so strong. Arizona born, Harvard educated, Timothy Reckart's film Head Over Heels is as exciting a prospect as I've seen in this field with simply stunning sets and models, professionally animated. Walter and Madge live in an upside down marriage. Er, literally!  An engaging idea. The film has been selected for the Cinefondation category of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, one of only fifteen films selected from 320 film schools. I am truly looking forward to seeing this in the flesh.

Traditional in technique and artfully executed Gervais Merryweather's 
Buy Buy Baby is another upside down movie, in a sense, as
Fred Finklesworth has to look after his baby daughter in New York, in the roaring twenties as the stock exchange goes belly up. Those lovers of 2D work will revel in the display of the old arts. It is due to be screened at Annecy.

Jack Tilley also works in 2D in the evocative Rail. His subject has a similarity too although it is entirely different in tone. A train driver looks after his adopted granddaughter when their railway world is threatened by the encroachment of the city. Immaculate drawing and great music from Jered Sorkin illuminate this enticing offering. The script was written by Rachel Yelding, and just one of the production team, talented individuals working together, an approach typifying all four films featured here.

Tom Jobbins works in a totally different way in his My Face is in Space. Paper cut out, stop-motion, live action and archive footage are intermingled in the tangled story of a young man who wants his face propelled into space in that golden period of exploration in the 1970s. A glance at the school's synopsis and credits page will emphasise the group approach of the NFTS as actors and technical staff combine their talents in as near a professional environment as a school of animation can offer.

and a personal note - the Animation Blog (me) does not take advertising revenue, the articles are not commissioned, and my coverage of the great schools of animation is a piece of personal research, necessarily squeezed into a truncated postcard form, shared with readers. I ask myself in each case, what would I want to know if seeking to enrol in one of the institutions, what are the films like? I'll release a series of these short articles in no particular order.


enchantedviolin said...

Thank you for considering Rail good enough to feature in your review. It makes all the effort worth it!

Ian Lumsden said...

"Rail" looks a fantastic film, with a sense of beauty about it. I shall look forward to reviewing it in full when the inevitable festival season has drawn to a close.

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