The London Film School – a place to experiment, find your voice and connect with the industry.
For over 60 years London Film School (LFS) has been the place for emerging creative talent to hone their craft, find their voice and engage directly with the vibrant UK screen industries. With a student cohort from every corner of the globe, LFS has always been a cultural hub where fresh voices, experiences and perspectives rub shoulders with tradition and history.
The story of the film has played out here at Shelton Street – the pull of celluloid, alongside the push of the new and the emergence of a digital world. Here, we take both seriously to celebrate a tradition of innovation.
LFS is built around a conservatoire model, providing a hothouse environment for intense creative work. Our MA programs in Filmmaking, Screenwriting and International Film Business are recognised by Creative Skillset as the industry standard and at a level of professionalism that has delivered us the status of a Film Academy. We are one of only three such academies in the UK.
With our MA Filmmaking there is no pre-specialisation, rather we believe that in order to find your filmmaking voice, you need to understand filmmaking as a whole. That is, you will experience and be provided with, a full education in all the craft areas. The experience we offer here is built around the notion that filmmaking is a collaborative process, not a product of any one individual. Our students engage across all disciplines, with their fellow students and staff.
Our MA Screenwriting provides a unique opportunity to develop a full-length feature film script, with individual mentoring and guidance from industry mentors. In addition, our screenwriting students have opportunities to work with our filmmaking students to make a number of short films across the year.
In a fast-changing media landscape, the need to understand digital strategies and new funding models is addressed in our MA International Film Business, a course run in conjunction with the University of Exeter. With modules in international finance, world cinema and a field trip to the Berlin Film Festival, the course prepares students for careers in programming, exhibition and distribution.
At LFS we nurture and respect the imagination of our students. We believe it is important to experiment, challenge conventions and explore new modes of storytelling, and to find new ways to connect with audiences. Through this, we are able to set up a dynamic dialogue with the screen industries and to shape and influence the future.
Our staff and visiting lecturers are connected to the UK and global industries, bringing their experiences into the everyday practice of teaching here at LFS. We balance the mastering of technical skills with the creative development of ideas. Alongside that, you will also engage with the new challenges facing screen storytellers in an ever-changing landscape. We apply that same imagination and experimentation to thinking about new business models and how to develop your career as an independent filmmaker.
We also look to the future. Our graduates have gone on to make substantial contributions to world cinema and global storytelling. Going forward we expect no less, but now the playing field is bigger. Outside of cinema, we see our storytellers and our filmmakers working in television and across new platforms. As film and television converge, as new platforms emerge, our graduates will confidently explore how to adapt their skills and expertise in filmmaking to tell compelling stories in any medium, on any platform, in any place.
Brief history of the oldest film school in the UK
The London Film School is the oldest-established international school of film technique in the world, at 60 in October 2016. The school has contributed significantly to the development of film education in Britain and across the world.
Rather than try and create a national cinema, as so many government-funded schools have done, LFS from the outset fostered a broad, craft-based culture of excellence with students from more than 80 countries. At present over 60% of the school's students are from outside the UK.
In October 1956 the Principal of the Heatherley School of Fine Art, Gilmore Roberts, set up a short course in filmmaking, but before the applicants could enrol, found that his school had been sold from under him. He decided to continue the course independently, but could hardly have imagined that over sixty years later a thriving, international school, descended from this embryonic idea, would be working in a converted warehouse in Covent Garden, London.
The first LFS filmmaking course ran in May 1957.
After precarious early days, the School settled in Brixton as the ´London School of Film Technique´. It was set up around the belief that the future health of filmmaking in Britain could be promoted by properly designed formal training for people entering the industry, then run on a traditional apprenticeship basis. Since there was little sign of any official action to carry out these plans, a group of enthusiasts decided to take the classic British way and constitute such a school.
The approach to the old school, through a gaunt passage and up winding brick stairs to a handful of rooms over shops in Electric Avenue, Brixton, was likened by an intrepid visitor to a set from "The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari".
In the early 1960s, the school moved to premises in Charlotte Street in the West End and was renamed The London Film School. The 18th-century warehouse in Covent Garden, in which the school has been since the mid-1960s, maintains a similarly dramatic and individual character.
In 1974 the school was re-named as LIFS, the London International Film School., but reverted back to The London Film School in 2001.
The original constitution, which remains in force, is very unusual. The school is a registered charity, a non-profitmaking company, limited by guarantee. All students become members of the Association, and, together with the other members, elect a board of governors on which they have representation. The board of governors has the overall responsibility for the management of the school. The current Chairman is the internationally renowned director and LFS graduate Mike Leigh. The school has always been completely independent and remains so following the validation of its courses by the University of Warwick and the University of Exeter.
To celebrate the school's 50th anniversary in 2006, a microsite was created. The site contains a wealth of interviews with staff, ex-staff and alumni.describing their experiences at the LFS, feelings and hopes for the future of the school.
In 2016 The London Film School remains one of only a few remaining independent creative specialist conservatoires in the world. We continue working hard to remain a leading centre for film education.
These are exciting times for the LFS and the industry. We invite you to join us as we enter the next chapter of our journey.