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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, the nature of that business and the skills, attitude and temperament that are needed by those entering the industry.

Paper title Business of Filmmaking
Paper code SCOM405
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,333.93
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,793.66

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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

Neil Harraway

Paper Structure
The first hour is usually a seminar conducted by NHNZ staff members with knowledge and experience in a particular part of the 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 over to a viewing of and discussion about a film, often made by a previous student on the course.
Teaching Arrangements
One 3-hour weekly session, normally at NHNZ.
Recomended Texts:
  • Bernard, S. C. (2011). Documentary Storytelling. Creative Nonfiction on Screen. (Third or 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
  • (Supplied) Babirat, C, and Davis. L.S. The Business of Documentary Filmmaking. Longacre
Course outline
The course outline will be supplied at the beginning of the semester.
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 will develop competency and/or an understanding of the issues involved in the following areas:
  • Researching for film and television
  • Pitching ideas for funding
  • Writing shooting scripts
  • Writing narration scripts
  • Writing programme treatments
  • Basic budgeting
  • Creation of programme proposals
  • Use of musicians and music
  • Use of archive libraries
  • Ethical decision making in documentary films
  • The nature of the international industry
  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • Copyright
  • Insurance

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41