Now in its sixth year, this highly successful, industry focused film programme has mentored over 100 young people towards a career in the film industry. By studying all aspects of film and having award-winning professionals as mentors, BFI Film Academy graduates have gone on to study, train and work in the film industry in Northern Ireland and further afield.
We caught up with BFI Film Academy alumni to see how far they've come since the course...
James MacKenzie, who graduated in 2016, is now an actor and writer. He says: 'doing the BFI course has really helped me understand how life works on a film set, and allowed me to begin my career as an actor with a step in the right direction. Since the BFI I have been constantly working on set in some way, and I base my success thus far on the professionalism and work ethic that the BFI has taught me. I can't think of a better way to start a career in film, whether behind the camera, or in front.'
Meghan McArdle graduated from the BFI Film Academy Graduate at AMMA Armagh, and was a Nerve Centre Academy Mentor. She has since produced two funded short films and has just been awarded funding from NI Screen to direct a short film that she also wrote. In her own words: 'without the BFI Academy I wouldn't have been able to develop the core skills required to bring story to screen. The BFI Film Academy enabled me to make my first ever short films and gain my first IMDb credit that I've been adding to ever since.'
After graduating - first from the BFI Film Academy and later from Animation at Ulster University - Edward Boyle got a position at the animation studio Boom Clap Play. He was full of praise for BFI Film Academy: '[It] was a significant checkpoint in the beginning of my career, it opened my eyes to the local film industry as well as opening a door for me to be a part of it. I was also fortunate to be accepted onto the BFI Specialist Animation Residential programme in London where I was mentored by practising animators over a week of developing a short with other students from across the UK.'
Bronwyn Lynch is currently in talks with production companies about new projects coming up. She graduated from BFI Film Academy in 2015, and had this to say about her experience: 'I was able to find the skills that I had and how I could use them in the workplace. The BFI Film Academy pushed me to find work experience and I got this with Alleycats TV in Derry-Londonderry. I started as a trainee while I was at uni and was then offered a paid job as production assistant during the summer. The course accreditation is great to have on your CV as it shows your dedication.'
Luke McGarrigle decided to move on to further education after the BFI Film Academy: 'The BFI helped me a lot by giving me hands on experience with filmmaking. Now I’m in university studying film production and I've already worked with the BBC and I'm working on my own productions too.'
Oisin Tomas O Raghallaigh is now directing his own short films. He told us: 'BFI Film Academy at the Nerve Centre was fundamental to my development as a filmmaker, providing my first opportunity to direct a short film and develop the skills necessary to work in the film industry. It helped me gain a work placement with RoughCut TV in England organised by Sky, the role of producer on a yet to be released short film 'Grapevines' and a place at the NFTS/BFI Craft Residential where I directed my most recent short 'Hindsight' and enjoyed masterclasses from Gareth Edwards (Director Rogue One) and Sarah Gavron (Director Suffragette). I cannot recommend this course enough.'
In order to apply for any BFI Film Academy course, you must:
- Be aged 16-19 year olds on the first day of the course.
- Be a UK resident.
- Have a passion or talent for filmmaking and an ambition to work in the film industry.
- Be able to commit to the duration of the course.
- Not currently be at university or enrolled at university when the course starts.
Applications are now open and closing date for registration is Thursday, September 20, 2018. Candidates will be required to attend a short interview as part of the application process. Candidates must be available on specified dates between Saturday, September 22, 2018 and Saturday, February 9, 2019.
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