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SCOM405 Business of Filmmaking

The process and business of filmmaking, and development of the necessary critiquing skills to differentiate between bad filmmaking and good filmmaking.

This paper focuses on the business of filmmaking and explores the strategies and skills necessary to produce successful science, environmental, and natural history films in today's complex and competitive market.

Paper title Business of Filmmaking
Paper code SCOM405
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2022 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,371.61
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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NHFC 405
Limited to
PGCertSciComm, PGDipSciComm, MSciComm, MAppSc
May be taken only by students enrolled for Science and Natural History Filmmaking options. Other postgraduate students may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

Teaching staff

Dr Gianna Savoie

Paper Structure

The first hour is usually a seminar conducted by professionals in the Science and Natural History Filmmaking industry.

The second hour usually relates to a specific area of expertise (e.g. script writing, creation of treatments, etc.)

When possible, the third hour is given to viewing and discussion of a film, often by a previous student or other professionals in the industry.

Teaching Arrangements

One 3-hour weekly session, occasionally held at NHNZ.


Recommended Texts:

  • Bernard, S. C. (2016). Documentary Storytelling. Creative Nonfiction on Screen. (Fourth Edition) Focal Press
  • Thirkell, R. (2010) C.O.N.F.L.I.C.T. An Insider's Guide to Storytelling in Factual/Reality TV and Film. Bloomsbury
  • Producing With Passion: Making Films that Change the World
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will develop competency and/or an understanding of the issues involved in the following areas

  • Researching for film, television and digital content
  • Identifying contemporary trends in the SNHF industry
  • Pitching ideas for funding
  • Writing shooting scripts
  • Writing narration scripts
  • Writing film treatments and proposals
  • Creating a budget and funding strategy
  • Use of musicians and music
  • Use of archive libraries
  • Ethical decision-making in documentary films
  • The nature of the international industry
  • Marketing and Distribution
  • Copyright
  • The art of of critique in written and oral form

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Not offered in 2022

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system