A course for as­pir­ing in­no­va­tors at one of the world’s most renowned film schools

EDGE - - TIME EXTEND - JON WEINBREN Head of games de­sign and de­vel­op­ment

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.


“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”

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