Following the news that NFTS is to introduce a new Screenwriter Bursary Scheme – announced at the School’s annual fundraising Gala, our Screenwriting department has further reason to celebrate. Both Sarah Farinha (nee Wollner) and Karissa Hamilton Bannis who graduated from the NFTS Screenwriting MA in 2013 and 2011 respectively have been selected for BAFTA’s prestigious Elevate programme which is designed to support those from underrepresented groups progressing in their careers, and to help tackle the issue of diversity in our industries as a whole. 

Participants receive a bespoke 12-month programme of support including networking opportunities, introductions, mentoring, tailored panel discussions, masterclasses and workshops focused on professional development.

Whilst at NFTS Karissa worked on several projects, most notably Kahanikar - The Storyteller with director Nandita Jain, which was included in the Official Selection at The Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2011. It also won best animated short at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival and was long-listed for the Academy Awards in the same year. Based on her sample TV pilot Rift Guard, she was signed by Julie Press at Kitson Press and she is currently developing her series idea Perspective with Hillbilly Films. Her teen drama The Party has been optioned by Ecosse for All4. In 2017 she was commissioned to write an online spin-off of the flagship CBBC series The Dumping Ground. The web series will air on BBC iplayer and on YouTube later this year.

Sarah Farinha has written several award-winning shorts including NFTS graduation film, Sleeping With The Fishes which won the British Short Animation BAFTA in 2014. She also co-wrote the critically lauded short Morning which was nominated by the European Film Academy and won an IFTA, and co-wrote Cocoons, nominated for a Royal Television Society Award and winner of the Wolfgang Längsfeld Award for the Most Original Film. Sarah recently completed the BBC TV Drama Writers' Programme and, partnering with BBC Studios, was commissioned to write a pilot and second episode of an original television series. Sarah is currently working with major production companies including Fable, Vertigo Films, Wall to Wall and Warner Bros. Television Productions UK. She was commissioned by Sky and Wellcome Trust to co-write a one-hour television pilot Proximity, a sci-fi thriller that is currently being developed into a four-part series. Sarah is a co-founder of Tin Drum Pictures, a collective of female filmmakers who won the Cointreau Creative Crew UK 2016 Newcomer Award.

For more information about our Screenwriting MA, please visit