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Directing Fiction

Course Description

This course provides an environment in which directors can find their individual style and their own distinctive voice. Supported by the David Lean Foundation, this is the UK’s premier MA course in directing.

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-fiction

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


- Unique specialist course.
- Students of all key film-making disciplines work together on productions.
- Purpose-built film and television studios.
- Industry standard post- production facilities.
- The MA Course in Directing Fiction is supported by the David Lean Foundation.
- Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School.

This course commences in January each year. The MA course at the NFTS provides two years in which directing students will be adding depth and understanding to their abilities whilst regularly producing work. This is an environment where they will be both challenged and supported by staff and fellow students. The tutor to student ratio is high, thus allowing the teaching to be specific to the needs of the individual director. One great advantage of having different departments within the school is not only that students gain from the practical experience of working with the other specialisations but that their thinking is informed by the various collaborative engagements that together convey an idea to the screen.

The essence of the course is the practical experience of film-making, combined with a wide-ranging series of work-shops emphasising performance, mise-en-scène and an examination of how narrative works in cinema and in television. Engagement with students of other disciplines at the NFTS is a crucial aspect of the course. The curriculum of each specialisation is designed to link with the others throughout the course, so that students work together on projects of varying scale and complexity, increasing their understanding of the various specialist roles involved in film and television programme-making. The course includes weekly sessions on film and television culture, both contemporary and historical, and opportunities to learn from the work of more established directors through masterclasses and set visits. It also involves interaction with other disciplines, ranging from visual art, literature and architecture to installation and performance art.

*There are a number of different scholarships that support this course, including the Wellcome Trust Science Media Studentship. For more information see Scholarships and the Wellcome Trust. - http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/Funding/Public-engagement/Funding-schemes/Broadcast-games-and-film-awards/Science-Media-Studentships/index.htm


The Fiction department is led by Lynda Myles (The Commitments) and the senior tutor is Ian Sellar (Venus Peter, Prague). Many other leading directors teach on the programme, including, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Tamara Drew, High Fidelity), Brian Gilbert (Wilde) and Udayan Prasad (Gabriel & Me, The Yellow Handkerchief).


Directors David Yates (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, We need to talk about Kevin), Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea), Michael Radford (Il Postino), Danny Cannon (Judge Dredd, Crime Scene Investigation) and Michael Caton Jones (Memphis Belle, Rob Roy) studied at the NFTS.


In the first year, Directing Fiction students take part in a series of workshops exploring all aspects of directing, acquiring a solid understanding of current practices and technology across related specialist crafts. The workshops are supported by seminars on screen language and history, as well as individual tutorial sessions; which can guide students in self-motivated research to supplement their particular learning needs. Besides the weekly Screen Arts programme of screenings and seminars, the Directing Fiction department has regular sessions of screenings, scene by scene analysis and discussion led by tutors and students.

The Directing Fiction department workshops focus on isolating and building on skills used in collaboration with other departments. Each series of workshops culminates in a practical production exercise. Production experience is considered essential because the ability to maintain clarity of ideas and their expression within the conflicting demands of script, cast, crew and practical parameters – it is the test of the learning that has come before.

The first year work is aimed not only at developing skills, but at exposing weak areas of understanding and concept. In the final term of the first year, the directors collaborate with a team to make the First Year Film. This is a project which, apart from temporal and budgetary restrictions, gives the students considerable freedom and which encourages them to take responsibility for their work. During the first year, the student will have begun work on developing second year projects and their dissertation.

The second year of the Directing Fiction course provides more of an opportunity for the self- motivated student to develop his or her own voice through two different types of production experience. The dissertation allows for examining a particular area in depth and should be complementing and informing further work. Longer form storytelling is developed through the digital production. The primary collaboration on this production is focused on director/cinematographer/actor.

Short form storytelling and collaboration with a larger crew is developed through a film production called The Summer Fiction. Both it and the Digital Film are heavily supported by individual tutorials.
The productions also include scheduled workshops/seminars/tutorial support for casting, rehearsals, shot planning, set procedures and working with the A.D., as well as intensive and continuous viewings and critiques of rushes and edits. Editing, Sound and Music tutors also provide tutorials during post-production.

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.


Students come from a wide range of backgrounds: you may be an independent filmmaker, you might have a first degree or you may have experience of working in the Industry.

Your application must include a DVD of a short fiction piece - or an extract of a longer work - that you have directed recently and a short treatment for another narrative-based project.


- A treatment for an original film or video project of no more than 5 sides of A4 paper, typed and double spaced. This should not be a treatment for the same project as your DVD below. It should be a treatment for either a short film or a feature length project. This treatment should include:
- the basic situation,
- the characters and other elements and
- the main thrust of the story as it changes from beginning, through middle, to end

- Three copies of your film (on three separate DVDs) of up to 15 minutes’ running time, which you have directed. Please note that you can specify which 15 minutes should be viewed. The technical quality of the work submitted is not a priority in assessment. (If dialogue is not in English and the DVDs do not have English subtitles please email a dialogue transcript in English).

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

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Yann Demange

4014.jpg 2006 graduate, and director of '71, Top Boy, Criminal Justice, Dead Set.

(Student Profile)

David Yates

4018.jpg 1992 graduate, Director of the final four Harry Potter films, and the Warner Bros. Tarzan Film (2016)

"The NFTS is right at the heart of training for the industry"

(Student Profile)

Terence Davies

4019.jpg 1980 graduate, and director of Of Time and the City, Distant Voices, Still Lives, The House of Mirth.

(Student Profile)

Toby Haynes

Fiction Graduate. Episode Directing Credits include Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall, and Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens (Hugo Award-winner)

(Student Profile)

Sarah Gavron

NFTS Graduate. Credits include Suffragette, and Brick Lane.


Science Media Studentships - Single Award

The NFTS studentship offers financial support for one PhD-level biomedical scientist to undertake a postgraduate qualification (MA) at the NFTS in Games Design and Development, Directing Fiction or Screenwriting, all of which last 24 months.The awards will pay for tuition costs plus a grant to cover basic living expenses for the duration of the studentship.The next NFTS application deadlines are as follows:8 July 2016 (17.00) - Games Design and DevelopmentIf you are interested in making an application, please contact Dr Jonathan Wardle - Director of Curriculum and Registrar.
T +44 (0)1494 731475
E [email protected] Or visit the NFTS website (http://nftsfilm-tv.ac.uk/our-courses/masters).

Value of Scholarship(s)

tuition costs plus a grant


Applicants should be PhD-level biomedical scientists wishing to explore a career in the broadcast, games and film industries in the UK and/or Republic of Ireland. Applicants must have a PhD or equivalent, some experience of science communication, and a demonstrable aptitude for working with TV, radio, film or games.

Application Procedure

The studentships will only be awarded to applicants who have a confirmed place on the course of interest.For the NFTS, application is through the NFTS website: Games Design and Development, Directing Fiction, Screenwriting.After the application deadline, a shortlist of candidates for interview will be drawn up, with interviews taking place in late July.

Further Information



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

Students come from a wide range of backgrounds: you may be an independent filmmaker, you might have a first degree or you may have experience of working in the Industry. Your application must include a DVD of a short fiction piece - or an extract of a longer work - that you have directed recently and a short treatment for another narrative-based project.

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