Bringing sports production training to Scotland with the NFTS

As the National Film and Television School (NFTS) has announced plans to launch a new hub at BBC Scotland’s studios in Glasgow and Dumbarton, we talk to Jon Wardle, director at the NFTS, to get more details on just what we can expect from this prestigious film school at its new northern base. 

Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie with Donalda Mackinnon, BBC Scotland director (L), and Jon Wardle, NFTS director (R) at the NFTS Scotland announcement

SVG Europe: Why is Scotland such a key please for NFTS?

Jon Wardle: Production outside of London is growing and we want to support that through making our courses increasingly accessible to students throughout the nations and regions of the UK. Scotland is on the edge of a huge boom in production activity – The BBC alone has committed additional investment of £40 million a year in Scotland and is proposing to launch a new channel next year and will also produce more network output in future – and we are going to ensure there are the people to support that growth.

SVG Europe: Is there going to be a sports dimension to any of the training provided at the new site in Scotland?

Jon Wardle: Yes, absolutely! We already run a successful Sports Production Diploma in partnership with IMG, which is in its second year and students on that course have just completed work placements to experience the realities of producing live sports content on a wide range of programmes from the Premier League to World Rally Cross. The Live Sports Production with Live TV Simulator short course, which we are running in partnership with HBS, incorporates theoretical and practical learning and is the first of its kind to use the Live TV Simulator. Aimed at sports broadcasting professionals, the course allows directors, producers, vision mixers and other members of the crew to practise their skills in a controlled environment using real life sports events and scenarios to expedite the classroom learning. The HBS partnership is a new venture for us, but if it’s successful we will certainly be looking to build on that work in Glasgow.

SVG Europe: How important is it to provide increased training opportunities for future and existing sports and live production staff?

Jon Wardle: It’s very important. Before we launched our Sports Production Diploma there was no dedicated specialist course; the closest you could get was Sports Journalism. We want to deliver specialist provision that provides the high quality assistant producers the industry needs who are ready to hit the ground running on day one. Training like this is also a good way of encouraging more diversity in all areas of production including sports, and to this end, it is planned that a third of all places at NFTS Scotland in the first two years will be fully funded scholarship places. Both the BBC and the Scottish Government are making a contribution to a bursary fund which will meet the costs of these scholarship places and ensure that students will be drawn from a broad range of backgrounds.

NFTS Beaconsfield

SVG Europe: Who will NFTS be partnering with on the integration side for this project?

Jon Wardle: We won’t be buying equipment in the first instance as we will make use of equipment at Pacific Quay and Dumbarton Studios and plan to hire in anything else we need.

SVG Europe: Have you got any ideas yet about what equipment and workflows will be used?

Jon Wardle:: It will vary for each course. Now that the announcement has been made we will be actively talking to technology partners about the courses we plan to run and how they might help us ensure our offer is world leading. We already have good working relationships with the likes of Sony, Arri, Sargent Disc, Avid and many more so we’ll be looking to leverage those as part of our offer in Scotland.

SVG Europe: Thank you Jon!

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