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Course Description

The NFTS is the only UK film school where you can specialise in cinematography for 2 years at MA level.

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/cinematography

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


- The only specialist 2-year Cinematography course in the UK.
- Three stages, bluescreen and greenscreen facilities.
- Shoot live action and animated films.
- Students use 16mm, Super 16mm and 35mm film, digital video and HD cameras.
- Unlike other Schools, all production costs are met by the school.

This course commences in January each year. This course explores the many ways in which the cinematographer participates in the collaborative process of translating screenplays into meaningful and stimulating films. Exercises, workshops, masterclasses and productions, supported by critical and analytical study of the history and development of cinematography, give students a solid foundation in the art and craft of their future career.

The aim is to improve and expand the students' technical knowledge and skills using all of the above mentioned methods of image capture.

Cinematography graduates are in demand in the UK, Europe and the US and go on to work in both film and television. Recent new graduates have found work as 2nd Unit DoPs on feature films, and have shot commercials, episodic television series and documentaries for Channel 4, Granada and BSkyB, as well as short films and TV programmes for a variety of independent production companies.


The Head of department is BAFTA and BIFA-winning and EMMY-nominated cinematographer Brian Tufano BSC, whose credits include Trainspotting and Billy Elliott. Other tutors who often teach at the school include award-winning commercials cinematographer Stuart Harris, Barry Ackroyd (Riff Raff, My Name is Joe), Sean Bobbitt (Hunger, Shame), Nina Kellgren (Young Soul Rebels, Looking for Langston) and Academy Award winner Billy Williams (Gandhi).


Leading Hollywood cinematographers Roger Deakins (The Man Who Wasn't There, Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption), David Tattersall (Star Wars Episodes I - III, 007: Die Another Day) Oliver Stapleton (The Proposal, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People) trained at the NFTS.


Creative expression is developed alongside technical expertise. As well as film, training in High Definition, Digital Cinema and Digital Post Production is an integral part of the course. Visual storytelling is emphasised alongside the art of creating mood and evoking emotion through the right combination of composition and lighting. Working closely with students of other specialisations, student cinematographers have a creative involvement in fiction, animation and documentary films, commercials and multicamera television, lighting and shooting several productions during their time at the School.

During the course students will be provided with tutorials, seminars, screen studies, workshops and master classes with specialist tutors and visiting professionals. All workshops and master classes are mandatory. Through Tutorials students will be guided towards finding their own criteria for self assessment and finding their own individual challenges. The aim of the tutorials is to encourage the student to get the best out of themselves through discussions and critiques with their peers and through an awareness of self. While supportive overall, tutorials will have an element of critique and challenge. They should allow the student to step back and reflect on their own work.

Seminars will deal with stylistic approaches, principles of optics and photographic and video theory. Special attention will be given to the importance of relationships and interaction with other specialisations, like directors, editors, designers, sound and post production. Also, regular seminars and lectures will be conducted on Screen Art. Screen Art is crucial to broaden students' critical understanding of the art of cinema. This need is satisfied by providing systematic screenings, special events, seminars, discussions and analysis. These happen throughout the two year course.

Workshops and Practical Exercises are designed to teach most aspects of traditional and digital cinematography - cameras, lenses, grip equipment, originating materials (film stock/tape), light meters, location lighting, studio lighting, day for night, night for night, filming in moving vehicles and also film grammar, crew roles, studio protocol, laboratory procedures and special visual effects. The aim is also to develop responsibility and professionalism. This is supported and overseen by the teaching staff, who aim to challenge and nurture the student’s talent without undermining their independence.

Production Exercises provide a valuable experience in that they enable the student to work as part of a creative team. The cinematographer is able to utilise the skills and knowledge acquired whilst taking part in Workshops and Exercises.

Unlike other Schools, all production costs are met by the school. In addition you will be given a cash Production Budget. NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors.


We are looking for people with innate talent. Therefore previous training in these areas is not mandatory but some basic technical knowledge is required. Experience gained from working in the camera department of the film and television industry is helpful but is not essential.

You must have an understanding of the role of the Director of Photography and its creative and logistical responsibilities. You would also need to be able to demonstrate good communication and collaborative skills and leadership qualities.

You must have a good understanding of “cinematic language” and demonstrate this in your submitted film material.

We would like to see examples of your work that are exclusively yours. The showreel must contain fiction filming. It should demonstrate a strong visual sensibility and an awareness of the considerations of camera operating, composition and lighting and their potential for creating mood and atmosphere. Most importantly your fiction film should have a clear element of visual narrative and show your ability to tell a story with images, using all the elements that can be brought to contribute to it. This we refer to as “cinematic language”.

Materials submitted with your application should be of a good technical standard. Provide an Authored DVD of your submission film(s) for playback in a non-commercial DVD player. We will not accept Data DVDs (no Quicktime files).


A short showreel on a DVD.

We require a continuous narrative piece of fiction storytelling of not more than 15 minutes. You should clearly identify your role on the production in the titles at the beginning and end of the piece.

- it should clearly identify you as the camera operator and also the creator of the lighting design, i.e. that you are Cinematographer/Director of Photography
- each submitted item on the DVD must have original titles and credits at the beginning and the end
- work in progress is not acceptable
- we will watch the first 15 minutes if your showreel is longer than this

Visit the Cinematography page on the National Film & Television School website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Lynne Ramsay

4017.jpg 1995 graduate, and director of We Need To Talk About Kevin, Morvern Callar, Ratcatcher.

(Student Profile)

Roger Deakins

4021.jpg 1975 graduate, and DoP of 007: Skyfall, True Grit, No Country For Old Men.

(Student Profile)

Melissa Byers

3D Stereographer; Credits include Gravity, Jack the Giant Slayer, Flying Monsters with David Attenborough

"The NFTS provided me with top class facilities and an opportunity to be creative"


NFTS Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

All long term resident UK students, once they are offered a place on the MA programme, are invited to apply for an NFTS funding award. Awards may consist of either a bursary or a scholarship or a combination of both. NFTS Scholarships are donated by individuals or organisations with a direct involvement in the film, games and television industries. They often include a mentorship and an individual donor may take in interest in your work. Therefore they have an added prestige.The NFTS funding awards contribute directly to tuition fees and may be between £1,000 and £10,000. They are not re-payable by the student. They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Value of Scholarship(s)



They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Application Procedure

Students are invited to apply in both of the two years of the course. Some scholarships are intended to be for a particular specialisation, for female students, or awarded on ethnicity or according to the UK region of an applicant.

Further Information



The Toledo Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

Applications are treated confidentially and are means tested. The school reserves the right to ask an applicant to provide proof of his/her financial circumstances and of possible family support. The Assistant Registrar must be notified immediately of any change in an applicant’s financial circumstances. Careful consideration is given by the Scholarship Panel with a view to responding to demonstrated financial need. Funds are limited and students are asked to estimate responsibly how much assistance they think they will need as this affects the School’s ability to accommodate students in serious need.Unfortunately, we are unable to open this scheme to EU or International students, or to students on the Diploma programmes. There are some course specific scholarship opportunities available to Diploma students. Please check the latest situation on the NFTS website course pages. There may not be enough scholarships available to allow the school to give one to all applicants. Therefore it may be necessary for you to make alternative arrangements for your tuition fees and maintenance. All students offered a place are provided with guidelines for applying for independent funding. This information is distributed during the summer. NFTS funding applications are received in September and the Scholarship Panel meets in October to decide the awards for the following year. Decisions are announced shortly afterwards.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See the website


The Toledo Scholarship is an NFTS scholarship specifically intended to enable talented newcomers from the UK’s ethnic minorities to fast-track their ambitions and join the British film industry.

Application Procedure

Application is made in the same way as all other NFTS scholarships but candidates will need to identify themselves as an UK ethnic minority candidate in order to be considered automatically.

Further Information



BAFTA Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

The BAFTA Scholarship Programme assists talented individuals in need of financial support. A BAFTA scholarship can help you afford an NFTS course in 2016 or 2017. Recipients will receive:
- Up to £10,000 to cover their course fees
- An Industry mentor
- Free access to BAFTA events around the UKUK students who have worked in the industry for at least two years may qualify for assistance from the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund. Students with relevant experience who have been offered a place on a course should apply direct to the CTBF. There is also an opportunity to apply early and directly for a BAFTA scholarship before your application has been completed. UK applicants should look out for the BAFTA scholarship announcement on their website.Some of the remaining UK Regional Screen Agencies offer scholarships to students from within their region. Some are arranged through the School as NFTS Scholarships, while others must be applied for direct, in competition with students at other institutions.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Up to £10,000


Eligible courses are listed on the website.

Application Procedure

The deadline for applications is Friday 17 June 2016. You can apply to BAFTA before you are offered an NFTS place.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

We are looking for people with innate talent. Therefore previous training in these areas is not mandatory but some basic technical knowledge is required. Experience gained from working in the camera department of the film and television industry is helpful but is not essential. See Course Description for further information.

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