The London Film School (LFS) is a not-for-profit film school in London and is situated in a converted brewery in Covent Garden, London, close to a hub of the UK film industry based in Soho. The LFS was founded in 1956 by Gilmore Roberts as the London School of Film Technique in Brixton and later moved to Charlotte Street, becoming The London Film School under Principal Bob Dunbar. From 1971 to 2000 it was known as The London International Film School, and reverted to the name London Film School in 2001.
The LFS is one of three UK Creative Skillset “Film Academy” Centres of Excellence.
In 2014 The school celebrated a year of graduate achievements around the globe, a particular highlight the unprecedented success for LFS filmmakers at the Cannes Film Festival, where Leidi, the 2014 graduation film of Simón Mesa Soto, was awarded the highest honour, the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film in Competition. It is the first time a British film school has won this prize. Six LFS graduates were in official selection in Cannes, including Mike Leigh with Mr Turner, which won two prizes and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado with The Salt of the Earth, co-directed with Wim Wenders, winner of the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize.
The submission list for the 2015 Foreign-Language Oscars included three LFS graduates: Ann Hui represented Hong Kong for the fourth time, For the second time Mohamed Khan represented Egypt (Factory Girl) and Leticia Tonos represented The Dominican Republic (Cristo Rey) — a clear testament to the School’s impact on world cinema.
During 2014, films made at the school had around 200 festival entries, winning more than 30 prizes. The list spanned Venice, Tribeca, Clermont Ferrand, the BFI London Film Festival, Edinburgh, Encounters and Sundance; 12 LFS graduates were selected for Palm Springs, 10 for Aesthetica and 14 for The London Short Film Festival.
It offers MA degrees in Filmmaking, Screenwriting and, in partnership with the University of Exeter, a unique MA in International Film Business and a PhD in Film by Practice, recruiting from all over the world. It also offers an expanding range of short and part-time professional development courses under the LFS Workshops banner. LFS is the only graduate-only film conservatoire specifically constituted as an international community; around 75% of its students are from outside the UK.
In 2014 the School also launched the MA International Film Business, in partnership with University of Exeter, and welcomed the first cohort of 29 students.
Applicants should normally have at least one of the following:
- A Bachelor’s degree with Honours; or
- An equivalent (international) or higher qualification; or
- An equivalent professional qualification; or
- Substantial professional experience in film or a related area.
They are welcome to apply even if the students haven’t made films, but they feel to have the ability to and meet their minimum entry requirements.
They are interested in applications who have a passion for film, but a background or portfolio of work in, for example: theatre, journalism, still photography, graphic design or another creative discipline.
Students whose first language is not English will therefore need to provide proof of proficiency in English.
Filmmaking is taught on stages, and in workshops rather than in classrooms so the building functions like a studio. On the MA Filmmaking, students work on a minimum of ten films, at least two as director, with all costs included in fees. With around 130 full-time students at any one time on the MA Filmmaking course, it generates more than 170 films a year.
LFS is a living creative community and not a short-term “immersion experience” or a commercial training product. It is a very independent non-profit school run by passionate and experienced filmmakers with 18 full-time faculty and a varied and hugely talented group of visiting lecturers, technicians and artists. The LFS hosts a masterclass programme that reflects the school’s status: Abbas Kiarostami, Hanif Kureshi, Franc Roddam, Dick Pope, Seamus McGarvey and Stephen Frears have all been visitors and lecturers. Such is the School’s global reputation that Al Gore chose to launch Current TV in Europe at the LFS.
LFS attracted a group of leading figures from the cultural world to support its vision to create a new building. LFS patrons are Chris Auty, Tony Elliott, Roger Graef, Christopher Hird, John Hurt, Hanif Kureishi, Charlie Parsons, Franc Roddam, Anthony Smith, Iain Smith, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Thomas and Alan Yentob.
The school provides mentors and career development support after graduation.