National Film and Television School to open new hub in Leeds

NFTS students filming on set.
NFTS students filming on set.

The National Film and Television School (NFTS) has announced that it will open a new base in Yorkshire to capitalise on the region's rocketing profile in the screen industries - and foster a "creative powerhouse" in the county.

NFTS Leeds, which will operate from a number of spaces across the city including a dedicated spot at ITV in Kirkstall Road, is to provide specialist training to meet the growing needs of film and television production in the area.

The new facility run by the the industry-leading school is expected to open in January 2020, with 150 students anticipated to sign up within the first year.

Graduates from the school's original sites include Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, Oscar-winning animator Nick Park (the creator of Wallace & Gromit), acclaimed directors Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here, We Need to Talk About Kevin) and David Yates (the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and renowned documentary makers Kim Longinotto (Pink Saris, Gaea Girls) and Nick Broomfield (Whitney: Can I Be Me, Kurt and Courtney).

The move follows the successful opening of NFTS Scotland, with the Leeds site being part of the school’s continuing strategy to support the growth of production outside London.

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Jon Wardle, NFTS director, said: “Since inception, the NFTS has had a remit as the UK’s National Film and Television School to serve the whole of the UK and we have shown with the successful opening of our hub in Glasgow, that there is the demand for opening hubs outside of our main base in Beaconsfield and that graduates go on to achieve great things in the local area.

"We look forward to working with our partners locally in Leeds and the surrounding area to make an even greater contribution to the local economy through our unparalleled reputation for delivering high-calibre, job ready graduates.”

A string of hugely popular productions such as the BBC's Gentleman Jack have also recently boosted the region's name in the industry.

Channel 4 CEO, Alex Mahon, said: “It’s fantastic that NFTS is opening a hub in Leeds, the new home of Channel 4’s National HQ.

"We’ve seen a significant influx of creative organisations committing to Leeds since we made our announcement and the addition of NFTS will undoubtedly
create more opportunities and attract further investment.

"By working closely with the NFTS and other partners such as Leeds City Region, Screen Yorkshire and regional production companies, we can nurture local talent to meet the demands of Leeds as a creative powerhouse.”

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It is supported by NFTS Platinum Partner, Channel 4 as well as ITV, BFI, Screen Yorkshire and ScreenSkills.

Courses will mirror those offered by NFTS Scotland and will include three-month certificate courses, 12 month full-time and part-time diploma courses, and short courses to
provide ‘Continuing Professional Development’ (CPD) in key film, television and games craft disciplines.

Yorkshire-based screen industries are growing faster than anywhere else in the UK according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), with a study revealing that between 2009 and 2015, employment across the film and TV industries in the region grew 88 per cent against a UK average of 32 per cent.

Experts have spoken about how the county's diverse landscapes, ease-of-access and "no nonsense" approach have impressed producers from around the world.

Amanda Nevill, CEO of the British Film Institute, said: “It’s fantastic that the NFTS is coming to Leeds and giving talented young people the opportunity to learn the craft and technical film and television skills that will prepare them for a career in the industry.

"Production is booming all over the UK and Yorkshire is a shining example of a region has really capitalised on this, but we still need thousands more skilled people to join the workforce.

"The new NFTS hub is not only great news for Yorkshire, but great news for the creative industries and the wider economy.”

Managing director of ITV Studios, Julian Bellamy said: "Whilst increasing its global presence, ITV Studios is proud of its UK heritage and have long held a production base in Leeds.

"We look forward to continuing our work with the NFTS and other partners to support the growth of talent and meet the increasing demand for a broad range of behind-the-camera skills."

NFTS Leeds will specifically work to address gaps by delivering courses other providers are not currently offering in the area such as production accounting, script editing, craft
skills, location management and factual development.

Patrick McKenna, NFTS chairman, said: “The school plans to make its courses increasingly accessible to students throughout the nations and regions of the UK. This exciting new initiative in Leeds marks the second phase of an ambitious programme of development following the successful opening of NFTS Scotland.”

Gareth Ellis-Unwin, head of film and animation at ScreenSkills, added: “The NFTS is an important partner for us across the UK and specifically in the delivery of our own plans in Yorkshire.

"It is fantastic to see the collaboration between all partners on the ground to develop skills and talent in this way.”

The NFTS, which was awarded a BAFTA for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema in 2018, is known as an "acknowledged global leader" in the provision of postgraduate, high-level, creative and technical skills for the audio-visual industries.