NATIONAL FILM AND TELEVISON SCHOOL
A course for aspiring innovators at one of the world’s most renowned film schools
Jon Weinbren has worked in a variety of roles across film, TV, animation and games. One of his earliest game industry positions was as the dialogue writer for Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper 2, and he’s since worked as writer and designer on several projects at EA and elsewhere. Fresh from waving off NFTS’s first batch of game graduates, he tells us why the course is already influential.
Tell us about NFTS’s masters.
We offer a two-year MA programme in Games Design And Development that runs alongside a range of postgraduate MA and diploma courses across a broad spectrum of film and television specialist disciplines. These include screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, sound design, music composition, production design, editing, animation direction, documentary making, television entertainment and digital effects. But the unique thing about the NFTS is how students from each discipline work with each other on set modules and final projects, and the game course is no exception. Over the two years, students are equipped with a comprehensive grounding in game art, animation, design, production and coding.
What’s your annual intake? At the NFTS, there’s usually a maximum of eight students per MA specialism, and the Games course operates in the same way. It’s the most recent addition to the MA portfolio, with our first intake in January 2012. We’ve now been through a full cycle and our first few graduates are already out there in the world and making waves. We’ve forged great relationships with the other specialisms – particularly screenwriters, producers and sound designers, who are also out there with the Games graduates working on real projects in the real world as we speak. Can you give us some examples of what those alumni are doing? Bojan Brbora’s grad project game, 4pm, secured development funding for its first episode and will shortly be available on Steam. Working with NFTS screenwriting graduate Stefan Kaday, Bojan has also been awarded £25,000 by the Wellcome Trust to develop a game to complement the Wellcome Collection’s forthcoming History Of Forensics exhibition. Albert Bentall, who designed and developed an ethereal riverboat exploration game for Oculus Rift called
Sandman, has now taken up a key role at Sony London studios. How has NFTS changed since your course began? In the past few years since the games course started, there has been an energetic evolution going on. New diploma courses have been launched in areas such as entrepreneurial producing, digital content and formats, and factual entertainment. In addition, I’m pleased to say our presence in the school has made a difference – there’s a real interest in games among the other students, and most of the film and television specialists now see games as equally valuable to their culture and career as broadcast and cinema… It’s a gratifying culture shift.
“BOJAN BRBORA’S GRAD PROJECT GAME, 4PM, SECURED FUNDING FOR ITS FIRST EPISODE AND WILL BE ON STEAM”
“NFTS offers more scholarships and bursaries than any other postgraduate institution,” says Weinbren, “with a fund of £650,000 to be shared across students on MA programmes, awarded on a means-tested basis”