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London Film Academy celebrates 20 years of innovative film education

   Mar 15, 2021
Credit : GMI Post

The London Film Academy (LFA) has been globally recognized as an innovative, hands-on film school embedded in the industry. It was founded in 2001 by Anna MacDonald and Daisy Gili, who set out on a mission to make film training accessible and set up a school that would offer its students a practical education.

The result was their flagship multi-disciplinary Filmmaking Diploma, a one-year intensive course developed for those who want to learn by doing and acquire the ability to launch straight into the film industry.

London Film Academy Joint Principals and Co-Founders Anna MacDonald (left) and Daisy Gili (right)

“Our student population is incredibly diverse and this diversity means that the films our students collaborate on are truly pioneering, innovative and impactful. They learn how to quickly adapt to the professional world and graduate as fully competent filmmakers that can add real value to any production,” said LFA Joint Principal and Founder Anna MacDonald.

Innovation and collaboration

Now in its 20th year, LFA has produced hundreds of world-class filmmakers who thrive in an environment that emulates the TV and film industry realities. LFA is a school dedicated to nurturing the best talent, maintaining a hands-on approach and ensuring it retains its ethos of being a collaborative, friendly and inclusive learning environment. 

LFA currently offers a practical, fast-track BA (Hons) course in Filmmaking, MA courses in both Filmmaking and Screenwriting, as well as industry-standard specialised short courses, both in-person and online. The courses are taught by an array of high-caliber guest speakers and tutors worldwide, all of which currently work in the industry.

“Throughout these courses, students gain a thorough grounding in the key areas of the filmmaking process, from script to screen, and become multi-skilled and adaptable, favouring the art of collaborative storytelling rather than working as a solo auteur,” said Joint Principal and Founder Daisy Gili.

Staying true to LFA’s founding core values of being pioneering, collaborative, impactful and sustainable, MacDonald and Gili have developed each course to be both inclusive and well-rounded. These courses are not just about developing students' filmmaking skills, but also about nurturing their soft skills.

“The film industry is one of the most competitive environments to work in, meaning you need additional life skills to navigate through it. You need to be resilient, tenacious and adaptable. It has always been incredibly important that we equip our filmmakers with all the skills, knowledge and ongoing support to succeed in this industry,” MacDonald said.

Gili added: “Filmmaking thrives on partnerships and teamwork, so a big part of our students’ education is focused on how to be a team player.

Major screen successes

A testament to LFA’s pioneering film education is the number of world-class filmmakers it has produced over the last two decades. The school’s alumni have been part of major film and TV productions including the Oscar-winning Green Book, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Irishman,The Crown and Chernobyl, for which their graduate, Philip Clements, won the Emmy Award for Best Sound Editing.

Looking back on LFA graduates’ achievements so far, MacDonald commented: “Each of our graduates have gone on to either develop their own passion projects or been a valuable asset within larger productions. We couldn't be prouder of the incredible careers they have created.”

Last year, LFA Filmmaking Certificate graduate Alvaro Delgado-Aparicio was nominated for the Outstanding Debut by a Writer, Director or Producer at the BAFTAs for his debut film Retablo. In 2017, Filmmaking Diploma graduate Vicky Wong Wai-Kit won Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards for his edgy crime thriller, Trivisa. The film went on to win a total of five awards.

The LFA co-founders with British actor Andy Serkis (center). Seated behind are Gillian Humphreys OBE and Peter David of the Concordia Foundation, co-sponsors of the LFA Pioneer Award

William Tennant, another Filmmaking Diploma alumnus, began working for Mel Gibson’s Icon Entertainment in LA after graduating, before joining Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) at his production company, Imaginarium Productions. Tennant is currently Head of Development there, overseeing projects such as Breathe, The Ritual and Netflix’s upcoming film No One Gets Out Alive.

LFA filmmaking ecosystem

Based in the heart of Fulham, LFA prides itself on having created a home that is welcoming and inspiring – a place that fosters collaboration and is an inclusive learning environment for all.

“Our LFA home is a converted Victorian church that has its own built-in production studios and cinema. But it’s more than just a bricks-and-mortar building. It’s a thriving ecosystem. Students meet their future collaborators in the hallways. They are taught by world-class professionals in their industry. And upon graduation, they join our thriving creative community – the LFA Filmmakers’ Club!” MacDonald said.

For MacDonald and Gili, graduation does not ever mean goodbye. The Filmmakers’ Club gives members the chance to continue collaborating with the LFA community through invaluable networking opportunities, keep learning from pioneering filmmakers at their regular events and discover how to thrive in the film and TV industry.

Enabling the next generation of talent

MacDonald and Gili have always been passionate about giving talented students from underprivileged backgrounds the access to film education. Over the past 20 years, they have awarded hundreds of partial and full scholarship places at their school to support those who cannot afford the training.

Their most notable bursary is the LFA Pioneers Award, a £23,000 scholarship for an emerging female filmmaker, created to help bridge the gender gap in the industry and help gifted individuals gain the skills and the opportunity to tell us their stories.

To learn more about the LFA, explore its creativity, and find out how students can develop filmmaking skills that can help change the world, visit www.londonfilmacademy.com.

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