After graduating from the Signals BFI Film Academy in January, students Millie and Wylie were selected to attend a highly illustrious residential study week at the renowned ‘National Film & Television School’. In this guest blog entry, Millie Bennett tells us about her inspirational week with a host of acclaimed industry professionals.

The talented graduates all together for the showcase screening at the BFI

When Project Leader of the National Film and Television School (NFTS) residential, Pete Fraser, skyped us at a BFI Saturday session at Signals, I had no idea that I would actually be accepted in the role of producer. During a weekend in March, Wylie and I arrived at the NFTS for the commencement of the pre-residential. I myself was familiar with my role of producer and Wylie was new to the role, making it a nerve-racking and exciting experience for both of us. After being assigned our production groups, having numerous meetings about scripts, taking part in extremely competitive team building activities and having an insightful masterclass with Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia, we were both back in Essex – excited for the main residential in Easter.

 

It was during this time that my determination to get into the film industry was consolidated

 

Arriving at NFTS a month later, it was already evident that the following 11 days would be jam packed. The first couple of days were spent planning our films; organising locations, script changes and storyboards. This was shortly followed by recce shoots, cast rehearsals and green light meetings. Even within the short period of time we had been there, the experience was already amazing and accurately represented the amount of work required in the film business. The tutors on the course were incredibly knowledgeable, with those such as Lewis Arnold directing Broadchurch and Humans whilst my own tutor, Brian Ward, has written numerous screenplays and has directed on several occasions, including music videos for AC/DC and Sade. This kind of knowledge was imparted in the frequent morning sessions in the NFTS cinema where tutors gave insight talks whilst we looked at some of their own work. Before long, it was time to start filming. Our shoot was spread across two days and it was during this time that my determination to get into the film industry was consolidated. It was an incredibly calm yet professional atmosphere and everyone had learnt so much by the end of the two days.

Her own story of being a female director in the industry was particularly inspiring and motivated me and many others to not be afraid to try to make it in a male-dominated industry.

 

To calm down from a hectic week, we went on a trip to London and had a fantastic talk at the BFI with Destiny Ekaragha. Her own story of being a female director in the industry was particularly inspiring and motivated me and many others to not be afraid to try to make it in a male-dominated industry. The rest of our time before the BFI Southbank premiere was spent in masterclasses, personal development sessions, marketing presentations and networking with previous alumni. This entire experience at the NFTS has massively improved my own confidence in leading team presentations and talking about my own ideas. Premiering our films at BFI Southbank was an incredible experience for everyone on the course. Each production group was presented with certificates by actor Zawe Ashton and Nik Powell before the networking event with various people in the industry. Jane Gull represented Signals as Wylie and I met with her during the event, a lovely surprise to end the day!

The NFTS residential was not only educational, it has also provided us, the new NFTS/BFI Alumni, with countless contacts and friends that I truly hope to stay in contact with. I can honestly say that the residential is up there with the best experiences of my life and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone aged 16-19 interested in film.

 

Millie Bennett

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