We’ve all binged our fair share of blockbuster films, Netflix documentaries and TV series over the past year, and it seems people aren’t content just watching them, they want to be at the centre of the action.
The pandemic has not only caused tidal changes to the way we live in Northern Ireland, but the way we work. That, combined with continued growth in the film and TV sectors here has led to many people seeking a new career.
The Northern Ireland Film & Television School is capitalising on this thirst for change, and is asking students of all ages to apply to secure their spot with increased demand for September.
The School’s Bangor Campus has invested thousands to create a state of the art 4k Studio which will not only allow students to gain first-hand experience in an industry standard setting, but help develop the new waves of talent coming through who want to be part of the billion pound industry emerging here.
Official figures for 2020 show a £2.84 billion spend in the UK for film and high-end TV production, despite months of suspended filming due to Covid-19.*
The award winning film school launched six years ago and Course Co-ordinator Pete Graham said they’ve grown from strength to strength: “We weren’t sure how the pandemic was going to affect applications for the course but the prolonged lockdowns combined with the furlough scheme and working from home seem to have given people a chance to reflect and re-evaluate what they want to do in life.
“The same industry opportunities just weren’t there a decade ago so people left school or college with a different career route in mind. Now the industry is thriving here and the jobs are there. As a result, we’ve seen a marked increase in applications from mature students with a creative itch to scratch. It’s exciting and as a teaching team we always get a buzz supporting those older students to re-train and develop new ambitions, regardless of age.”
Established at the height of Game of Thrones popularity, the teaching team behind NIFTS consulted NI Screen, local independent production companies and BBC NI to see what they needed from new entrants when it came to skills and work ethic.
All industry professionals themselves, they then created a course that would meet those needs. The majority of NIFTS graduates now work in the industry across high end television dramas, feature films, BBC NI researchers, directors and even producing documentary series for Netflix.
Ally Thompson is Course Director and says they’re particularly interested in getting more women onto the course, “Every year we seem to attract more male than female applicants and that’s reflected out in the industry which is still viewed as ‘male lead’ in many areas of production. In recent years a small shift has begun to take place but we’d love to see more talented and creative females come through our doors at NIFTS.
“If students don’t already have a qualification higher than an A-level or Level 3, full funding is usually available so hopefully that makes the course more financially appealing to those trying to balance work and home life commitments. It’s been a tough year for everyone but there are opportunities out there and we’d like to support those ready to grab them.”