National film and television school gets new base in Glasgow

The prestigious National Film and Television School (NFTS) is to establish a new base in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin
The prestigious National Film and Television School (NFTS) is to establish a new base in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin
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The prestigious National Film and Television School (NFTS) is to establish a new base in Scotland.

The hub in Glasgow will be the NFTS’s first outside of the south-east of England.

The announcement was made at the Edinburgh International Television Festival by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who described the move as a “major vote of confidence” in Scotland’s screen sector.

The NFTS offers postgraduate courses for film, television and the games industry and the new centre is expected to be used by more than 400 people each year, including over 100 full-time students.

It is being set up in partnership with the BBC, while the Scottish Government is contributing £475,000 in start-up funding.

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Unveiling the plan in a keynote speech, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m so delighted that we have an announcement that the National Film and Television School is going to set up a new base here in Scotland.

“The BBC is giving significant support to this venture - the school will be based at Pacific Quay and will also be able to use the BBC’s studio facilities.

“As many of you will know, the NFTS is the most renowned of its type in Europe. Its Glasgow base will be the first anywhere outside of London.

“So it isn’t just good news for the film and television school, the hundreds of people who want to make a career in screen, it’s also a major vote of confidence, I think, in our film and television sector.

“We expect approximately 400 people a year to use the school, including more than 100 full-time students.

“The Scottish Government is providing start-up funding for the project and a significant proportion of that funding that we are providing will be used for bursaries because we want to ensure that the new centre encourages genuine diversity and gives young people from all backgrounds a chance to develop a career in broadcasting.”

Ministers expect a third of all of the places in the first two years to be fully-funded scholarships to boost equality and diversity in the sector.

NFTS Scotland is expected to open in January next year with students enrolling from April 2018.

NFTS director Jon Wardle said: “The NFTS has a proud history of developing Scottish talent from its base in Beaconsfield, so we are incredibly pleased to announce the expansion of the school into Scotland and look forward to making an even greater contribution to the Scottish economy through our unparalleled reputation for delivering high-calibre, job-ready graduates.”

BBC Scotland director Donalda MacKinnon said: “The NFTS has a well-deserved international reputation for the quality of its training so we’re very happy to be working in partnership with them to ensure that we and other broadcasters - along with the film industry in Scotland - have a well-trained and well-educated workforce to select from for many years to come.”

Also during her speech, Ms Sturgeon said there is “real momentum” behind Scotland having its own film studio facilities, as she admitted the speed of progress on the issue has led to “frustration” within the industry.

Earlier this year, Scottish ministers granted planning permission in principle for a film and television studio on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

The decision to back the Pentland Studios plan overturned an earlier recommendation from a Scottish Government reporter that permission be refused.

Ms Sturgeon told the audience: “We’re also making progress - not as fast as many people would like, I appreciate - in terms of film studio facilities, something that has been a running issue for decades.

“We’ve said we’re minded to grant planning permission for a development including a purpose-built studio at Straiton just outside of this city.”

The First Minister referred to the use by crews of facilities in places such as Cumbernauld, Bathgate and Leith.

Questioned on Scotland’s “failure” to get its own studio, she said: “I think we’re catching up. I don’t deny the frustration that people have had. I actually share that frustration.

“I think now the good news is we do now see real momentum behind this, there are now a range of different options where, if we play our cards right and things go as I hope they go, we may end up with having a range of different studio facilities over the next few years.”