Posts Tagged 'nfts'

Across the digital frontier in Buenos Aires

In a rather cool and wet Buenos Aires delegates representing film schools in 37 countries (or rather 38 counting Scotland separately from the rest of the UK) are preparing for three days of presentations, workshops and debate on “The impact of the digital age in the CILECT schools curricula”. Cilect is the global association of film and television schools, formed in 1955 at the height of the Cold War in the spirit of cross-border, cross-ideology cooperation. Some 58 years on its numbers have swelled to over 160 audiovisual educational institutions in over 60 countries from Australia to Argentina and Canada to Cameroon. Its various regional chapters including the European GEECT, are sizeable entities in their own right.

With a global congress focussing on broader strategic, funding and organisational issues every even numbered year, this ‘odd’ year’s conference is more concerned with practical matters. The topics to be covered include ‘Producing, commercialisation and distribution curricula: new formats’; ‘technological changes to the cinematography curriculum and ‘new strategies in teaching screenwriting and directing’. CILECT has been at the forefront of the changing film school curriculum, helping members to navigate innovations in camera, sound and postproduction technologies well before they entered the mainstream of education or indeed consumer consciousness. Amongst the pioneering initiatives it has sponsored is The Global Rivers Project which back in 2008 brought film schools in South America, Europe, Asia and the USA together ‘virtually’ to explore HD workflows in a collaborative documentary project using online collaboration to co-produce a truly global film.

Between the talk sessions there is the prize ceremony and this year, in an unexpected coup the UK’s National Film and Television School (yes they haven’t yet caught up with there being four nations, currently) will be picking up all three top prizes – something that has never happened before. Check in later this week for more.

We need to talk about film schools – return trip to Cannes for Lynne Ramsay

Fifteen years after her first Cannes appearance, winning the Jury Prize in 1996 for short Small Deaths, followed by the same award in 1998 for Gasman and two awards for her second feature Morvern Callar in 2002, Edinburgh Napier University and National Film and Television School alumna Lynne Ramsay will be back on the croisette with her third feature, her long-awaited and much-anticipated adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin.

It was at Napier (now home to Screen Academy Scotland) that Ramsay, studying photography, was introduced (by then Senior Lecturer in film Colin MacLeod, now retired) to the work of avant-garde filmmaker Maya Derren, a key influence on her decision to apply to the National Film and Television School to study cinematography.  In the early 1990s the NFTS along with the London Film Schoolwere pretty much the only place in which a talented Scot could aspire to study film making.  Many if not most of Scotland’s notable filmmakers have made the journey to Beaconsfield from Bill Forsyth and Mike Radford to Michael Caton-Jones, Gilles Mackinnon, Ian Sellar and Douglas MacKinnon.  (See Alistair Scott’s fascinating account of the influence of Scots on the NFTS and vice versa in ‘What’s the Point of Film School, or, What did Beaconsfield Studios ever do for the Scottish Film Industry?’ in Scottish Cinema Now).

Ramsay’s ‘conversion experience’ at Napier and subsequent encounters at the NFTS are an important reminder that the real value of film schools lies not primarily in access to technology (increasingly available elsewhere) or even skills (also increasingly acquirable by other means) but exposure to ideas, space to experiment and opportunities to find and work with collaborators.  At the NFTS she met cinematographer Alwin Kuchler and editor Lucia Zucchetti with whom over the next six years she made her three shorts, her debut feature Ratcatcher and then Morven Callar.

Despite the plethora of short courses, DIY manuals and (much to be encouraged) ‘just do it’ ethos of 21st century filmmaking, for at least some of tomorrow’s talents there remains something enduring and irreducible about the combination of structure and freedom, guidance and licence, individual and collective that makes three or four years as an undergraduate or one or two as a postgraduate, a simultaneously liberating and challenging experience.

My own experience over the past six years, leading Screen Academy Scotland, gradually expanding our range of post-graduate courses to give producers, screenwriters, directors, cinematographers (and from next year editors) more and more opportunities to find those creative ‘soulmates’ from an ever expanding list of countries, pushing their own and their collaborators’ creativity, is that film school is as useful and powerful a tool to accelerate talent as it ever was.  Thankfully our local talent now has a real choice of whether to head south for an excellent film education and, equally, talents from all over Europe are beating a path to Scotland to make connections.  Indeed we’ve taken that one step further with our ENGAGE programme  (now entering its fourth year), linking up with film schools across Europe (and from this year around the globe) to encourage graduates to partner up at an early stage of their careers to sow the seeds of future collaborations.

Meanwhile we wish Lynne the best of luck in Cannes and expect to see more of our alumni there in the near future.

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