... 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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee