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From directing to acting, producing and editing, Short Courses has a class for everyone looking to boost their filmmaking skills.


An NFTS Short Course on Lighting

At all levels of the film industry, for every position, there are a range of skills vital to surviving and getting ahead. And with the fast-paced, results-driven nature of the profession, long-form theoretical education isn’t always the practical option. That’s where Short Courses, the NFTS’ program for short-form skills learning, come in.

Short Courses, of which there are around 64 every year, typically run from two days to four weeks, and provide both creative and technical training for professionals working in practically every area of the industry. The program is also responsible for three longer diploma courses, including an 18-month comedy course run by veteran writer and producer Bill Dare.

Participants in each course are given the opportunity to work with tutors with a range of industry experience, expanding and refining their skills as they work towards short projects relevant to their area of study. Upcoming courses include “Running Your Own Film Production Company”, “Directing the Documentary” and “Discover Colour Grading with Resolve”, along with numerous others.

Courses run based on popular demand, and the NFTS are currently organizing two new courses in the area of acting, which will prepare actors for film and TV in ways not before focused on in traditional acting programs. Acting for the Screen, led by noted director Tony Smith, will teach actors about the transition between stage and screen, comparing the vast differences between the two disciplines. And Casting the Actors, headed by Jane Frisby, who cast Jude Law for his very first feature film, might well be the first professional class dedicated to training casting directors.

Summer Directors Series

DoP Craig Dean Devine works with participant Boo on a Directors’ Series Short Course

“Most of the courses are aimed at people who’ve got contact with the business that want to take a step up,” explains Short Courses director Peter Ansorge, an experienced TV producer who has been leading the program since January 2016. “So if it’s towards assistant directing they go on that course, if it’s [learning to do] the camera yourself, we do that,” and so on. 

Most of the participants of Short Courses are young professionals looking to gain skills and boost their industry credentials, but anyone working in the industry is welcome to sign up if there’s a skill they’d like to learn. “The course I run, which is called Writing the Pilot, involves the participants coming in for two weeks and actually completing a 50-minute television pilot, and in the last one we actually had a woman who runs the European end of Comedy Central here, because she wanted to find out whether she could write a serious drama as opposed to a comedy.”

And as with Ansorge, the teachers of the other short courses bring a wealth of industry experience, as well. “It’s very important for us that we have people who are obviously good teachers, but who are actually working in that field themselves,” he says. “It’s more practical than theoretical; there’s less theory or structure, and in each course somebody should come out with something – a little film, a pitch, whatever it is – in their particular field. We’re trying to create the conditions that actually apply in the business world.”

This approach, Ansorge believes, is a way of filling in a gap that has formed as the industry has changed. “When I started out in television a long time ago, you learned on the job, because the BBC and ITV and Channel 4 sort of brought people up themselves, and passed on how to do things. That happens less and less with the broadcasters now, cause there aren’t really permanent heads of department that stay very long. Today a school like this is more important, for the new generation.”

More information about Short Courses can be found at nfts.co.uk/our-courses/short-courses. You can also follow them on Twitter @SCNFTS and on their Facebook page.

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson is a writer and filmmaker born in England, based in Michigan, USA, and currently living in Enniscrone, Ireland. He writes about all things entertainment with a speciality in film criticism. He has been working on films ever since middle school, when his shorts "Moving Stateside" and "The Random News" competed in the West Branch Children's Film Festival. Since then he's written and directed a number of his own films and worked in many different crew jobs. Follow him on Twitter @GambasUK and look at his daily film diary at letterboxd.com/gambasUK.

Posted on May 17, 2016

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