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The NFTS has a tradition of enabling documentary filmmakers to find a distinctive voice that both prepares them for the Industry and makes their work a force for changing it. Read more
The NFTS has a tradition of enabling documentary filmmakers to find a distinctive voice that both prepares them for the Industry and makes their work a force for changing it.

Quick Facts:

2 Year Course
Course runs Jan-Dec each year
Next intake: January 2017
NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students

Visit the website https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/directing-documentary

TO APPLY CONTACT REGISTRY - https://nfts.co.uk/contact-us


- Develop a personal voice.
- Put storytelling at the centre of your process.
- Study in a multi-disciplinary filmmaking environment.
- Shoot on digital formats.
- Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School.

This course commences in January each year. The goal of the course is to give our graduates the tools and the confidence to become successful members of the international documentary community. Our students have won the Grierson and Sheffield Student Awards two years running, IDFA and the Royal Television Society last year, and win prizes at the most prestigious festivals round the world: Sundance, IDFA, Hot Docs, Berlin, Sheffield and many others. The most important thing, however, is to prepare them for life as committed documentary storytellers, wherever that may lead.

In the UK, getting a first commission can be a daunting task but last year, for example, Marc Williamson, made a First Cut for Channel 4 from his Sheffield student award winning graduation film which this year won him the Grierson Prize for Best Newcomer. Some use the contacts they make in the last phase of the course, to put together deals with TV production companies and non-TV source as Sam Blair did with Adidas for his brilliant feature debut about sprinters, Personal Best. Since students direct and shoot five films in different genres during the course, many progress swiftly by using their unique skills to contribute to productions throughout the industry, like James Newton who won a Grierson last year as one of the directors of The Year the Town Hall Shrank .


Some of the UK's leading Documentary makers teach at the School, including internationally acclaimed directors Kim Longinotto, Sean McAllister, Asher Tlalim, Nick Broomfield, vastly experienced producer/directors Riete Oord, Ros Franey, award-winning cinematographer Roger Chapman, Rory Peck award winner Rodrigo Vazquez, the founder of Dochouse, Elizabeth Wood, Exec Producer of The Act of Killing, Andre Singer, and successful younger alumni like Lara Agnew, Sandhya Suri, Simon Chambers and Dan Vernon .

The department is led by Dick Fontaine who has directed over forty films for television and the independent media, has recently had retrospectives in New York, Paris, Barcelona and Sao Paulo and was nominated last year for a Grierson Award for his latest film.


Graduates include Nick Broomfield who pioneered a powerful new genre in documentary: the filmmaker-as- provocateur (The Leader, the Driver and the Driver’s Wife, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer,and, most recently, Tales from the Grim Sleeper), Grierson Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Molly Dineen (Home from the Hill, The Lie of the Land), Kim Longinotto, whose inspirational films about women are celebrated at festivals around the world (Divorce Iranian–Style, Sisters in Law, and her new film Dreamcatcher), and Sundance winner Sean McAllister (The Liberace of Baghdad, The Reluctant Revolutionary) and many others who are making striking contributions in documentary on many different platforms.



Built around a series of four practical exercises, increasing in length and complexity, informed and inspired by relevant traditions. Each exercise isolates and focuses on the techniques and content of a specific documentary genre: observation, character–led narrative, image/sound poetry and investigation. Students collaborate in various combinations with editors, cinematographers, sound designers and composers and also work alone using digital video equipment.


Includes three projects: a graduation film in which students synthesise what they have discovered in the first year, and use it to confidently challenge conventional approaches to documentary: an MA dissertation in which they reflect on a practical question that has intrigued them during the course so far and a proposal/taster tape for a project to take into the professional arena.

The final stage consists of visits to film festivals, broadcasters, independent producers and other relevant institutions, together with seminars dealing with the commissioning process, legal requirements, finance and festival potential.

Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School including an above-the-line cash production budget. NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors.


Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have usually had some previous experience of filmmaking, though this may not be at a professional level. All have a strong social awareness and a keen desire to translate that awareness into stories told with a personal voice.


- A 20-minute film, conceived and directed by the applicant (on DVD). Please note: if you wish to submit a longer film, only the first 20 minutes will be viewed. If the dialogue is not in English, you should enclose a dialogue transcript in English.


- A narrative photo essay consisting of 10 20cm x 25cm stills.


- A written proposal for a different film of any specified length (on no more than 4 sides of A4, typed and double-spaced) which should include the basic premise, a description of the characters and locations and, most importantly, the developing narrative.

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