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Applying to the NFTS in London


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#1 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 01:52 PM

Hi,

I applied to The National Film and Television School, in London for the MA in Cinematography last April and was (surprise) rejected - I'll be the first to admit that my showreel was appalling as I hadn't shot anything for several years and rushed a couple of pieces together and sent it - but I just wanted to give it a shot.

I'm trying again this coming year with a much, much better showreel and would like to know if anyone can give me any tips on how to stucture my showreel effectively, they say in the applications materials form that all films must have a title and credits etc...but this takes up so much time, leaving me with less, the wording on the materials form is worded like this;

? all submitted material must have titles and credits at the beginning and the end of the film or tape.

I'm still not sure if this means if I submit just one film I should put titles etc...at beg and end of tape - but if I show several films I must put titles and credits at begin and end of all?? The showreel can only be 15mins long, this will take up lots of valuable space??!!

Should I put the best sections of each film, make a mini trailer of each film or what?? Should I mix shots from different films to show contrasting styles etc...?

Any advice about applying to this particular school would be invaluable,

thank you,

Jacqueline.
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#2 Morgan Peline

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 09:50 AM

Hi,

I will have to confirm next year after the holidays but I think it is acceptable to put a title at the beginning of a reel and then minimal credits for yourself afterwards like your details as if it were your own personal showereel. I might be wrong but I don't think that you need to put each film's individual end credits maybe you just need itsa title like I did.

I remember when I applied I did a 13 minute reel that comprised a montage of about 2 and a half minutes and then a series of 'sequences' to show different individual styles for particular films. If you look at my website at the clips for:

Montage
Largo
Hungry Freaks
Justified Technophobe
Jam Sarnie Day
Cleanse
Steel Man

these are all clips that I took off directly from the showreel that I sent to NFTS, in that particular runnning order when it ran as along 15 minute film. At the front I had 'Morgan Peline, Cinematographer' as a title and then at end I had my email address and phone number. As I say things might have changed I'll have to ask my teachers next year but to be honest I definitely know that they are much interested in seeing your images than the credits!

But don't worry - what you send in doesn't have to be as extensive as what I sent in. Though you can't just send photos anymore, one of my classmates sent in just one short 'film' that she had created using just black and white photos, another classmate just sent in one 7 minute short film that he had directed and shot himself and one of the first years sent in some footage from a skateboarding video.

The point is that what they are looking for is a spark of something not necessarily technical excellence. The technical stuff you can learn but without a spark of something
all teh technical know-how is not going to help you. How you can tell a story using a camera with or without lights is teh most important thing. The quality is not that important. It is the ideas that count and how you executed those ideas. They don't care whether you shoot 35mm or Hi8 - it's the images that count.

If you have more questions please don't hesitate to contact me.
I used to live in Hong Kong years ago and I am considering moving back to Hong Kong or China (Shanghai or Beijing) now that I will be graduating. Is there any way you can tell me about the state of the film and tv industry in Hong Kong and or China...Is there work available for the likes of me? I have decided that I am very keen on starting my carreer in China rather than Europe. Any info would be much appreciated!
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#3 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 01:22 PM

Hi Morgan,

thank you very much for the information, it helps alot.

It's hard to tell what state the film industry is in here in Hong Kong, I work part-time as a drama teacher and shoot independently funded projects as well as some small commercial projects neither of which would suit someone looking to make a career out of filmmaking, but is great for building a showreel.
If you listen to most of my friends and fellow film-makers, the industry in Hong Kong is in a terrible state, but on my frequent visits to the biggest rental house here - Salon films - they always seem to be preping to fairly big shoots. I believe most of these are local Cantonese language films, and there maybe language issue problems with working on those. Occasionally an international film will shoot here - they recently wrapped, 'Irreversi' directed by Michael Gleissner, and most of the crew employed locally were production staff - not the DOP or camera etc...

I know that Chris Doyle is based locally, but shoots all over asia, alot in China and I've heard that he has taken on Cinematography graduates from Austrailia as his assistants in the past - Perhaps try to contact him through his agent (I can't find that info at the moment but if you can wait I will dig around more on that for you when I get back to HK - I'm in Scotland for Xmas.

Dean Head is also a fairly prominant DP in HK - here is his web page - he might be able to give you a better view of working as a DP out here. Here is a link to the Cinematography page of the Hong Kong Film services website - I can't seem to open Dean Head's webpage - but the rest of his info is there and there are plenty more companies to contact on this page - http://www.fso-tela...._...ng&sort=eng

I think China would be a better place to start a career than Hong Kong - simply because of the size of the country and the fact that the chinese film industry is getting bigger. I would reccomend that you try to learn some Manderin if you seriously plan on going there to work though.

I will put my ear to the ground when I get back at the begining of Jan...

A friend and myself are currently running two meetup groups in HK, one for actors and one for filmmakers - both have a variety of members, some newbies to filmmaking, but some are industry people looking for talent.

visit us at these addresses : Filmmakers meet up - http://acting.meetup.com/252/
The acting meetup is much more established with alot of members etc... http://acting.meetup.com/3/?gj=sj35

Hope this gives you some insight. I do think that most of the work in HK is corporate video stuff, most of us little baby fish are thinking that the only way we can work here is if we create our own film industry, hence the meetup groups etc...

I'll post more when I return to HK.

Jacqueline...


Here is the last thing I shot in HK - It's an experimental 'danced poem'. We shot it on a Canon XL1 over a 24 hour period - I used available lighting only and all effects are done in camera.



Jacqueline
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#4 Morgan Peline

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 10:26 PM

Hi Jaqueline,

Thanks for the info. It's kinda funny, Chris Doyle did a talk at our school a few months ago but I didn't get a chance to speak to him for more than a minute or so. He suggested moving to Shanghai as he seems to think that's where the work is. He was actually at Camerimage this year as well. Unfortunately, I am adamant that I am not going to return to being an assistant, so I suppose I am making life harder for myself! It seems you have said pretty much what my father has said in that the film industry in HK is slowly dying, mainly due to the sale of pirated DVDs even before new films are released apparently.

I think I am definitely thinking of moving to mainland China after maybe moving back to HK to establish a base but it will take me a while to learn Mandarin. I can speak a workable Cantonese but not read or write but Mandarin is a totally different ballgame - I reckon it would take me a year to two years to learn a bit...

But personally I think Beijing is the answer. At Camerimage, Kodak did a presentation and said that China was their largest growing market at the moment...
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#5 Ivan Vukcevic

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 11:59 AM

Hello Jacqueline

It seems that we all strive to different things. I am a cinematography student from Europe and what I would like most is to continue my studies in the East. That is, HK or China?I am somewhere in the middle of my 4-year collage now, and was wondering if there is any chance of continuing my education from that (or near) point or if I would have to start from the beginning. Can you tell me, if you know, how schools are like over there? English is not my mother language but I use it fairly well. I don?t speak at Cantonese or Mandarin at all but hopefully won?t have troubles learning it in the future?
As Morgan said, I am also more interested in starting a career there than in Europe.

Any advice or suggestion is helpful.
Thank you.

Ivan
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#6 David Bradley

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 06:45 PM

Ms Peline. I assume you are a student at the NFTS. May I ask what your back ground relevant to the course was prior to being accepted. I am desperately trying to prepare myself for the MA in cinematography which I hope to attend when I graduate in 08. The competition is stiff to say the least and I understand the board are looking for something special not someone with the most credits but what would you advise I do before attempting to enrol.

Kind Regards

David Bradley
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#7 Morgan Peline

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 06:35 AM

Hi,

I am a guy! Of course my favourite sequin dress does come out on Saturday nights...just kidding! ;)

I first did a business degree at university, then got bored with the boring dead-end office jobs I did in IT sales and marketing. So I did a two year cinematography Postgraduate Diloma/Masters at the Northern Film and Television School Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University. Then I worked for four years or so in television as a camera trainee and clapper loader in mainly television dramas and then I got into the NFTS and now...
I'm a DP...I think! In fact I think I'm going to change mys signature today.

Anyways that's me but to be honest everyone in my class hass very different backgrounds. You can actually get in with only one film that has been shot on Hi8. It all depends on your images. If the tutors see something they like on your reel, they will ask you for an inteview. It helps to have some experience but as long as they like your shots they consider that they can teach you anything that you lack in experience.

So in the end shoot as much as possible and try to get some nice shots together. If tehy like your eye, you'll get an interview. Also see of you can get some professional experience as a trainee on a feature or tv drama to see how things are done in the 'real' world. The tutors are most keen on people who are highly motivated and who love to learn as much about cinematography as possible because they know how tough it is to find work when you leave. Might sound a bit cormy but ultimately they are looking for passion.


Can you tell me, if you know, how schools are like over there? English is not my mother language but I use it fairly well.


The Beijing Film Academy is quite famous though I don't know what the quality of their teaching is like these days...

And I think they have some courses for foreigners these days...

http://en.wikipedia....demy#Admissions

Can't get access to their english site though...
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#8 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 03:14 AM

Hi Ivan,

well in HK there is not much in the way of practical post-graduate film courses - the most respected school of arts here would be the APA. http://www.hkapa.edu/ They run an undergraduate film course - I think it's in English, but it sounds like you've been studying film for a while now so might not be worth while - they run lots of short courses in film production and I've been wanting to take some - but it seems that all the short courses are all conducted in Cantonese. I don't speak it.

I just heard that several years ago there was about 400 films being made in Hk every year - and now there are only 40 films being made here every year - No wonder I've been feeling that nothing is really happening here. The last film I shot was nominated for a new film fesitval/competition, this was their first year - there are now 2 competitions here, I think.A bunch of us are really trying to get independant shorts of the ground here and hopefully start working up to independant features being made here. It's an uphill struggle and we all have day jobs.

Most of the practical courses you can find in HK are short courses my friend has a school; www.storyhongkong.com, there is also a year diploma and short DP courses at; www.filmacademy.com.hk.

The rest are academic courses in film & cinema studies.

I have heard that Beijing has a good school. the Enlish website is ; http://www.bfa.edu.cn/bfa_english/

I can't seem to get it to work, and the regular chinese one doesn't have an English button. I read that they have 100,000 applicants and only accept 400-500 students per year. They do have a cinematography programme.

Hope this helps a little, David- I'm also applying to the NTSC for 2008, so working hard to get that showreel up to scratch!

I wish you both luck in you applications.

Jacqueline

Edited by Jacqueline Donaldson, 28 January 2007 - 03:15 AM.

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#9 Anna Baltl

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 10:17 AM

hi morgan,

ive been thinking about moving to honkong a lot. not long ago i changed my mind because from all ends i hear that hk has passed the peak meaning all the money and spirit gone. it also effectively shows in numbers and quality of films lately produced there. but i havent seen it myself so this is only second hand information and i would be happy if anyone told me otherwise.

as for china, bejing seems to be on the rise. i considered that too but i just dont see my self living in china. though a friend living there told me that it is absolutely not nessesary to speak any chinese to make a living. i have been given some contacts from a smaller multi-media production company and would be happy to pass them on. but i dont actually think that this is what youre looking for, right?

currently i am working in tokyo as a tv camera woman and editor, slowly making my way back into film. just moved here after finishing my photography studies in vienna.

well, so what i wanted to ask is if you have considered moving to japan?
Looking at the latest industy productions, japan is just about to become a very fashionable location for foreign productions (Babel, Tokyo Drift, Heroes .. and some more beeing produced currently e.g. Jumper). there is a lack of capable locals especially when it comes to film, i know that because ive been offered jobs way over my head. generally speaking i see the good old rolls and meters returning into the overall digitalized domestic production. i am expecting a new spring for japanese cinema (that may or may not be just wishfull thinking).

the only thing is that i dont actually know how hard it would be to live and work here with out any understanding of the language.
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#10 Morgan Peline

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 01:55 PM

Hi,

Wow, you know if I knew I could make a living out there without having to speak Japanese that well, I would be out there in a flash! I've always had a hankering to live in Tokyo...obviously I've watched Akira and Blade Runner far too many times! It's not that I wouldn't take the time to learn Japanese but I know that it would take a while to learn even a smattering. But you know I think I'm going to make enquiries. I have a single friend: Masanori Namuta who lives out there - he studied in the UK as an editor but went back. I think he's an 1st AD on commercials and music videos now. I think I will send him an email and see what the situation is like!

Wow, I would absolutely love living out there, I just know it!

Thanks for the thought!
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#11 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:16 AM

Hi,

I have spent extremely large amounts of time attempting to learn Japanese, and I have recently begun to admit defeat.

Romance languages are reasonably hard. Slavic languages are a bit more difficult. Middle-eastern is probably no worse, and I've never tried anything Indian-subcontinent. All of these things are in a range of "challenging" which a reliably sane human being might, with years of study, eventually get his head around.

Japanese, by comparison, is impossible. Either you learn it as a child, or you don't learn it; the best you will ever achieve otherwise is the equivalent of Fawlty Towers' Manuel, but instead of everyone thinking you sound like a slightly undereducated idiot, you'll sound like a five year old girl. I am reliably informed that it's effectively impossible to learn Japanese as an adult and not end up sounding like you're presenting an episode of Tellytubbies. And this is just the spoken; I've never even tried to learn the written.

No offence to it, but christ, they could hardly have tried harder to make it mind-bending. I have the deepest possible respect for anyone who's achieved even the slightest degree of fluency.

Phil
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#12 David Bradley

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:24 AM

Im feeling that, I went to China last November on an OB with work and none of us could even get our heads around the basics. Try ordering a beer, seriously its a joke!
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#13 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 07:28 AM

Hey,

I just sent in application/showreel to the NFTS and wondered if anyone knows when the people at NFTS start sending notices for the interview/summer workshop?

Jacqueline
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 May 2007 - 11:54 AM

I'm sorry, but I have to ask this: why on earth do you even want to study at NFTS? All they can teach you is how it's done in an industry that's long dead. Almost anywhere else would be preferable - London is almost exactly the sour spot between lots going on, and no capable people. There's lots of people, within limits, and almost nothing going on.

If you have the opportunity to go and do it almost anywhere else, do it - if I had the slightest chance of landing a work permit anywhere outside the UK, I'd have been gone years ago.

All you'll get in the UK is a course in how film production was done in the 1960s - the last time we had an industry worthy of the term - and a very high cost of living for what is a very third-rate city.

Phil
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#15 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:46 AM

Hey Phil,

well, not really looking forward to the prospect of living in London, but I have friends that say it's great. I'm currently living in Hong Kong-it has it's good points and bad, but the industry here as far as I can see is awful - I'd never get a foot in the door, simply because of the language prob. I really want to get my hands on film cameras, I'm currently using HDV & P2 and I want to be in an atmosphere of learning with support- I've been involved in low budget/experimental film-making for a long time, but have been teaching myself cinematography for the last year and I'm at the point where I want to go further but it's prohibitively expensive equipment & production cost wise. The NFTS looks like a good option. There is a very small community of people here who are shooting independant shorts, we pool our cash, beg, borrow and steal equipment, it seems people in Hong Kong are not interested in getting involved unless there is a good deal of cash involved, therefore I tend to be DP, camera, gaffer, production designer etc... I want to start doing just what I want to be doing - Cinematography with the support of other crew members who know what they are doing and really collaborate.

I'm ready for a step up and I figured it'd be nice to live in the UK again - mind you the public transport system Hong Kong is fantastic and it'd take some getting used to travelling in London. Yikes!

I've also applied to FT2 - Clapper loader traineeship - any thoughts?

I have also considered doing some intensive courses - for example the Film workshop in Maine - USA . Any opinions on that?

Jacqueline
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#16 Morgan Peline

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 01:19 PM

Hi,

I wish I could help but there are so many ways of learning to shoot stuff it's really difficult to suggest one option over another...
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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 02:08 PM

> well, not really looking forward to the prospect of living in London, but I have friends that say it's great.

Have they ever lived anywhere else?

P
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#18 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 08:58 AM

Hey Phil,

Not sure where they've lived, but I've lived all over the world, New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, WALES! So I'm sure I would manage somehow... Just hoping to get an interview at the NFTS and then we'll see what happens.

Morgan, when did they send notice for your workshop/interview placement when you applied?

And how are you doing, you're just graduating, right?

Jac
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#19 Morgan Peline

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:50 PM

Morgan, when did they send notice for your workshop/interview placement when you applied?

And how are you doing, you're just graduating, right?


It kind of changes each year depending on how many applicants there are and how busy the tutors are. You can always phone them to see if they have any more news.

I just graduated at the beginning of the year. It's been fairly tough as expected as obviously I am just starting out and don't have that many contacts yet but I should be shooting a low budget feature soon and I am in the running for two others later this year. Apart from that I'm doing the odd day here and there on music videos, short films or docos. I also just got invited to participate in the Budapest Masterclass for two weeks later this year in September, all expenses paid. So that should be nice. Vilmos Zsigmond will be one of the mentors and as far as I know we will be shooting and lighting for 35mm for two weeks, so I am really looking forward to that!
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