• New Zealand
    • Auckland
Subject Areas

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Degree Level


Starting Price
Price Details
NZ$7,190 (US$4,605*). Includes tuition, accommodation, travel insurance and field trips (including field-trip related transport/flights and activities).
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Domestic Airfare Airport Transfers Classes Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Nov 08, 2019
Aug 27, 2017
10 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Structured around a practical production process based on professional television industry practice, Screen Tools is a hands-on course designed to set you up with the tools you need to launch your career in film, television and digital media industries.

You will work in a team to develop a complete short episodic drama. From script production to post production you will experience the entire process, developing your creative and technical skills in drama scripting, acting, directing and producing.

You will have access to our high-end production and editing equipment and facilities to produce multi-camera recorded scenes in our television studio, as well as shooting on location in the beautiful harbourside city of Auckland.

Course field trips include a visit to the Hobbiton movie set, and a visit to the Academy Award winning Weta Workshop.

Video and Photos

Program Reviews

10 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Academics 9.4
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.8
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Screen Tools--An Incredible Experience

I had dreamed about coming to New Zealand for years, but actually traveling and studying in this program was an entirely different (and yes, better) experience than what I expected. As an international student in the University of Auckland, even for only four weeks, I was faced with the challenges of living in a city twenty hours away from home by plane. However, Auckland--and New Zealand in general--is one of the safest places I've visited. As a country, it is astoundingly beautiful and welcoming to the traveler. The terrain differs distinctly from north to south, east to west, and there is always more to explore.

As for the program itself, the goals and perspectives of the staff made for a friendly learning environment, which is unique especially within filmmaking. We were encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them, truly "learning by doing," because the goals of the staff were to see us improve, and they believed in us enough to mentor us. I worked as one of two directors in our film groups, and I quickly learned the value of collaboration. Every job within a film or television show exists for a reason, and learning to work with people I had never met before--even as they were figuring out their roles--was a challenging and rewarding experience. By the end of the course each of the two groups had produced two scenes written by our convener John Callen, one scene written by the group, and one full short film created, produced, and edited by the two groups in tandem. However, I think one of the most incredible outcomes of the course was seeing how much we improved in four weeks, going from a clustered group of individuals from all around the world, to a fully-functioning team of filmmakers.

In addition, we had the opportunity to take a few field trips. As a Lord of the Rings fan, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Hobbiton. Wellington satisfied not only my fandom but a lot of my questions about the production and post production process as we visited Park Road Post Production, Weta Workshop, and Roxy Theater. Our impromptu visit to Shortland Street at the end of the course was an absolute treat in watching professionals do on a much larger and faster scale what we were trying to achieve at the university. We also had the opportunity to hear from and converse with Damon Andrews and Rachel Jean, both professionals within the New Zealand television industry, whose insights were extremely helpful. Most of all, we had the opportunity to learn from a professional throughout the four weeks of the course. John Callen is filled with filmmaking knowledge, and he thoroughly believes in the students he teaches. One of my favorite memories is riding the bus up to Hobbiton and sitting next to John, discussing everything from his experiences on The Hobbit trilogy to filmmaking tips to our families.

I would highly recommend this program for filmmakers, creatives, and general students alike. The collaborative lessons, as well as the empowerment gained in travel, has a value that can be applied to any job or field of study. My biggest advice to future participants: seek to learn, not to impress. Ask questions and seek out feedback, even though you will receive plenty during the course. Filmmaking truly teaches a person how to stay calm enough to fix problems and move on quickly, and it is helpful if you stay open enough to mistakes from the beginning. Develop relationships with the other students and staff members--I know I have made some life-long connections during this course, not just for making films but also as friends and mentors.

I would also recommend making real attempts to travel around the country on the few days that you may have off. New Zealand is just as picturesque as... well, the pictures, and I learned valuable lessons in traveling on days off just as much as I did in class. It also allowed me to clear my head in between script meetings, schedule meetings, rehearsals, location filming, studio filming and editing, which I think circled back to help in keeping perspective during those meetings, filming and editing sessions.

Overall, I had an unforgettable and enriching experience while in New Zealand doing Screen Tools, and I hope that my return will not be too far in the future.

What would you improve about this program?
As with any short course, a lot of the information we had to understand had to be ingested within a day or two, especially with the technical information. I would have liked to have more in-depth teaching with the technology we were using, as well as for camera techniques, how and when to fill out specific paperwork, etc. Additionally, I would have liked to have some more teaching and practice on how to pitch film ideas before we actually did it before professionals. We got helpful feedback once we did pitch our ideas, but the teaching on that area of the filmmaking process could have been clearer. My preferences mostly reside along the lines of extending the time we had in learning certain areas, which of course is not possible with a course of four weeks. Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the areas on which the program did focus, and I have a much deeper understanding of filmmaking and collaborative work as a result.
30 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Screen Tools

During my time in Screen Tools, I not only learned about practical production process, but also taught me that no dream is impossible and there will always be a place for our craziest ideas in the industry.
I had the opportunity to work with incredibly talent people from New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Started like friends and at the end we were like a little family, always got each others back.
My role during the four weeks was Director’s Assistant. I was in charge of the vision switching, continuity and was constantly communicating with the 1st AD in the studio. This role made my develop several skills such as multitasking and working under pressure. I always had help and great advice from our incredible mentors, I never felt like I was working by myself.
There’s a lot of information to process in only four weeks, but not overwhelming, everything falls into place and you don't realise how much you have learned until the very end. Such an incredible experience I would live all over again.

26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Screen Tools Course 2017!

Apply! Don't think about it, just apply! This course was one of the best experiences I've had!

From day one, it was hands on and engaging, and everyday was another chance to develop my filmmaking skills. I was a bit nervous going into the course because I hadn't had much experience making films, but the staff made sure the learning environment was supportive and encouraging, and a space where it was okay to ask questions and make mistakes. The staff showed their professionalism through experienced knowledge and advice, of which I found incredibly valuable.

I also loved working with talented and like-minded students from around the world. Having a diverse range of people means we had different perspectives and suggestions which contributed to the success of our final product. I made some really great friendships, and would be eager to collaborate with them again in the future!

Taking part in the Screen Tools course not only re-affirmed my love for the filmmaking industry, but it gave me the confidence that I needed, to prove to myself, that I am capable of working in this industry. The course was set up to mimic industry standards and each day we learnt more and more about what it is like working in the film/television industry.

The awesome field trips also gave a look into how the industry runs. The trip to Wellington was amazing, in particular, our time spent at Park Road Post where we talked with professionals about their roles in the post-production side of filmmaking. This was an area I didn't have a lot of knowledge about and I found it incredibly interesting. All of the staff at Park Road were willing and eager to chat and discuss their roles and the industry which was really lovely.

Our trip to Shortland Street was also wonderful as it was a similar set up as what we had been using. It was really cool and inspiring to see that what we were doing in class wasn't dissimilar - Shortland Street was just on a much larger scale!

For any future students fortunate enough to take part in the course I would suggest to ask as many questions as possible, absorb as much as possible, go with an open mind, and just enjoy every single second of the process! It really is an awesome opportunity!

Oh, and enjoy New Zealand! It's such a warm, welcoming, and beautiful country!

26 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An adventure of a lifetime that will polish and increase your skill set, portfolio and character.

The screen tools program is a truly a one of a kind opportunity for people interested in media production which has been made by the tightly and meticulously crafted schedule by the university’s staff.
I can’t think of a better way to spend four weeks than polishing and learning practical screen production skills that range from the pre to the post production process.
The staff and tutors of the course are professionals and completely invested in transmitting their knowledge and experiences while also exerting the right pressure to ensure the students will understand and following quality standards and industry practices.
Personally this experience was enriched by the opportunity of working closely with incredible classmates from a variety of backgrounds and experiencing not only through the lessons but also through field trips the kiwi culture and the film industry.

25 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

Screen Tools @ University of Auckland 2016

It's all in the community and the great work you create along the way. Everyone involved was welcoming, open, honest, friendly, and generous, and that's why the course was a success, and why I can look back on the four weeks with such great memories. Administration, instructors, and educators were truly invested in teaching and supporting my classmates and me in and out of the classroom (or studio as it were). While the hours in the studio were long and rigorous, the personal growth (regarding character, career-building goals, and technical skills) I underwent was massive and made me realize the potential of my talents. The field trips were a highlight, taking us to locations like Hobbiton and WETA studios, and now I strive to work in similar places in the future. Being in New Zealand helped me experience the production industry outside of my home country, explore fantastic landscapes and cultures, and approach my future education and career prospects at an international scale. If you're prepared to tackle a massive amount of work, fueled by adventure and creativity, this course won't disappoint.

What would you improve about this program?
If vlog assessment continues, perhaps extend final date for turn-in; intense pressure to finish pilot and vlogs at the end of the course.

If at all possible, more access to studio outside of class time. (I understand if this isn't flexible.)
31 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The Kiwi Experience

I registered to the Screen Tools program as a way to improve my portfolio, but what I got out of this experience is much more than I had originally imagined. From the very moment I landed in New Zealand there was a driver awaiting to take me to City Lodge, the place where I and the rest of the students enrolled in the program would be staying. All the staff from both the Lodge and the University of Auckland was always attentive and readily available for contact if it was needed. The program began swiftly and we were taken on a tour throughout the city to learn more about the history of New Zealand and Maori Culture by visiting museums and important landmarks. When classes begun we were introduced to John Callen, who gave us a warm welcome and initiated the Screen Tools course. Swiftly, the project began and our team was given plenty of time to plan and device our approach, as well as lots of creative freedom of how we wanted to craft of work. While the experience was demanding and rigorous in the amount of work we had to submit, we were fortunate to use our time wisely and have a group of members that brought very important artistic elements to the production. During our time off we had many opportunities to explore Auckland, including the lively nightlife and the nearby islands reachable by ferry. Overall, the month long trip was an unforgettable experience that is very well worth every moment of it.

What would you improve about this program?
For me the only thing that could be improved from the program is to have the trip to Wellington be extended a little longer so that our visit doesn't feel so rushed and racing against time to get to the different studios within a day and still have time to catch the plane back to Auckland on the same day we arrived to Wellington.
29 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Tools that last for a lifetime

The program supplied my team and I with valuable tools for a better grasp at how the industry operates, with the visit of professional guest speakers who contributed to our project dearly with feedback on how to ultimately improve and make a profitable story with appealing characters. The skill set developed as the Producer of the program ranges from scriptwriting to camera operating to contacting and researching. As a person who is passionate about film, I am now capable and confident of emerging myself into the production industry applying these skills in all pre-production, production and post-production sectors of the industry. I cannot wait to share my experiences with the Screen Tools team in the future, and to once again thank them for everything I learned and for their incredible support. This definitely the course to take for anyone who wants to study film in a more practical way.

What would you improve about this program?
The only two things I would change from this amazing program would be to have more opportunities to practice on field filming and use green screens.
27 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A truly rewarding and meaningful filming experience

There were a total of 5 students (myself included) in our course: Two from Brown University and San Diego State University in the US, and another two from Simon Fraser University in Canada.
During the one-month intense program, the five of us worked as a close-knit film crew: we were taught in the television studio which was part of the University of Auckland campus, and we learnt creative and technical skills to produce the first episode of a web series we came up with - we did everything hands-on from scriptwriting and location filming to directing, producing, multi-camera shooting, and digital editing.

Under the guidance of our experienced tutor John Callen, we came up with the script and storyboard of ‘Panophobia’, which we later developed into a roughly 15-min television episode. It was awesome to have John Callen as our mentor, as he was highly experienced in the film, television, theatre, and radio industry, working as an actor, writer, director, and voiceover artist for the past 44 years, and as an ‘industry’ tutor/lecturer for the past 20 years at a number of tertiary education institutions in New Zealand including the University of Auckland where I attended the program. Most notably, he performed the role of the dwarf Oin in the Hobbit film series directed by Sir Peter Jackson.

Apart from taking classes at the University of Auckland television studio on Shortland Street, we were lucky to have three field trips to further our experience in the industry of film and television as well as further our knowledge about the culture and language (Māori language) of the New Zealand people.

The first field trip was on the first day of our program - we were given a traditional Māori experience throughout the trip, learning about the Māori language, the history of the Māori people and its culture, visiting a ‘wharenui’ (communal meeting house of the Māori people), as well immersing ourselves in the playing of unique and original Māori instruments. We also had a chance to visit Piha Beach during our tour.

The second field trip was exciting - we first landed on the Hobbiton film set, setting eyes on the beautiful place of Matamata and the film location where the Hobbit series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. We were again given great hospitality and had the chance to have a banquet lunch in Bilbo’s 111th birthday party marquee. The five of us also interviewed John Callen in front of the Green Dragon Inn about his role as the dwarf Oin in the Hobbiton film series, which helped polish our skills in the use of the boom and camera as well. During our half-day on the Hobbiton film set, we were given a guided tour, which enabled us to learn more about how exactly the Hobbiton film series was made and the different challenges (and clever solutions) which Sir Peter Jackson and his crew faced and conquered throughout the filmmaking journey. The latter half of the day was spent at the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves on the North Island of New Zealand, where we were glided silently on the boat through the beautiful caves inhabited by thousands of magical glowworms.

The third field trip was, to be honest, the coolest and most rewarding of the three - we took a flight to Wellington early in the morning and arrived our first destination, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Given a general guided tour inside, we learnt more about the history, culture, and people of New Zealand. After the museum visit, we headed to the Stone Street Studios where renowned movies such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit series, and King Kong were made. We toured around the two vast sound stages and green screen facilities used for major international film productions and were introduced to different crucial rooms for the film productions, such as ones made specifically for sewing, make-up, and props inside the studio. We also learnt about the diverse roles of vital crew members in a film production. We then headed down to the state-of-the-art Park Road Post-Production Studio and Weta Workshop, where the film professionals at the two locations opened our eyes to the hard work of important supporting members of any film, such as foley artists, motion-capture performers, sound mixers, and visual effects professionals. It was astonishing to hear the sharing of one of the few foley artists in New Zealand as well as a sound mixer and visual effects professional working at Park Road Post-Production, the famous film and TV post production facility owned by Sir Peter Jackson. At Weta Workshop, we also learnt more about post production work of films and even had some hands-on experience creating chain mail and viewing the cool design, makeup effects, and prosthetics work of various famous film pieces in the past. The trip to Wellington was indeed a memorable experience, as it took us a step closer to the film industry and its entire production process.

One of the difficulties I faced during my one-month filmmaking course at the University of Auckland would probably be the tight schedule that we had to finish our production pieces. We were given an intensive and demanding coursework time frame to simulate that of the real-world film industry, working on a 2-header scene from scratch for the first week as a group, and then moving on to scripting, shooting, and producing the first episode of a web series in the remaining three weeks. Although we were under a lot pressure, the intense schedule and learning experience actually built us up as a team and allowed us to learn to work under great pressure and expectation, which was surprisingly rewarding.

The skills I acquired through this program were not only limited to scriptwriting, creative, and filmmaking skills - I also polished my English (learning about different cool accents at the same time!) and learnt a lot about how to work effectively as a team and build strong friendships and bonds through looking after and understanding one another in tiny things.

28 people found this review helpful.

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