... while a pounds 50m movie HQ springs up by the Thames

THE NATIONAL Film and Television School, responsible for training many of Britain's leading film-makers, is drawing up ambitious plans for a national "cinema campus" on London's South Bank, writes Louise Jury.

Negotiations have been opened with the British Film Institute to create the new complex, which would incorporate the National Film Theatre, the Museum of the Moving Image, and a new Imax cinema with the UK's largest cinema screen, as well as advanced teaching facilities.

The NFTS has tutored some of the most successful UK film-makers at its current site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, but is convinced the time is ripe for a move to central London. The BFI has already announced plans to sell its offices in the West End and move to the South Bank.

The NFTS is convinced that a link-up with the Institute will put its 150 full-time and 1,000 part-time students at the heart of a thriving network of British film-making.

A number of planners and architects are devising ways to redesign the South Bank to accommodate the BFI and the school. Using spare space in the adjacent Shell Centre is one option.

Jim Rodda, the school's finance director, said it needed to be based in London, the heart of the British film industry. "I think it would be exciting. It would help no end."

He said there were overlaps in the kind of screening and conference facilities that the school needed and which would be available on the South Bank. Students could also benefit from the BFI library and, perhaps most significantly, from the potential contacts. "Networking is a very important part of the business," Mr Rodda said.

Past students who have networked to success include Nick Park, the Oscar- winning animator of Wallace and Gromit, Mark Herman, who directed Brassed Off, and Roger Deakin, acclaimed director of photography on films such as the Coen brothers' Fargo.

The last planned redevelopment of the South Bank, featuring a wavy roof designed by Lord Rogers, had to be abandoned when the Arts Council decided it would not fund the project.

A spokeswoman for the South Bank centre said the new feature in the latest plans was a greater prominence for the film organisations. "The new ingredient is to have a film centre, creating a film street feel," she said.

But the project in London leaves a question mark over Ealing Studios in west London, home to classic Fifties comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit, which the NFTS bought for pounds 2.68m four years ago to convert into a new school.

The plans depended on Lottery funding and had to be abandoned when the Arts Council announced awards would be capped at pounds 15m, a long way short of the estimated pounds 30m-pounds 50m required.

The school is finalising details of the sale, which will be advertised within the next couple of months. As a charity, the school is obliged to secure the best return on its assets. But it is in discussions with lawyers to see how it can ensure they remain as film studios.

While the conversion plans were under way, Ealing has continued to be used. The BBC series Vanity Fair was made there and an American company is currently filming a remake of A Christmas Carol. A studio spokeswoman said: "We are very busy at the moment."

But the film industry is divided as to the future viability of Ealing where the stages are not big enough for making blockbusters. Lottery funding for smaller film projects has ensured a boom in the last three years. But if the level of activity slumped, then it might be more difficult to sell the studios as a going concern.

The London borough of Ealing has made clear it wants the studios to remain as a film centre. A spokesman said it would certainly object to any moves to transform the home of classic British films into housing or shops.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam