I have no experience in this field – Is that ok?

Generally the more experience a student has the more they will get out of our course, but the 16 week course is designed for individuals across the entire spectrum of experience. At the application stage we are definitely looking for proof of your passion and ability to succeed in this industry.

How hands-on are the courses?

Tutorials are mostly centred around exercises, leading to the successful production of short film projects. We will never ask you to write essays or complete exams (with the exception of a short film law test). We do believe in learning the “Language of Cinema” – the theory and motivation for everything you will do – but then get on and shoot it!

What equipment do we shoot with?

We have a range of cameras available. You will shoot the majority of your work on the Canon 7D and 80D DSLR’s with DSLR Grip Kits, prime lenses, and SmallHD monitoring. We also have the stunning Canon C500, a Super 35mm sensor, 4K RAW, or 2K RGB 444 12-bit, CLog, and more. But that is all fancy talk really. All cameras are essentially the same. Let us show you how to expose, compose and operate a camera manually first.

What do we edit our productions on?

Students are taught to edit on Avid Media Composer – the professional industry standard for large film and television productions. There are other options out there, but the Oscars 2015 and 2016 still show the dominance of Avid when: “Every winner and nominee for Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Original Score relied on Avid creative solutions”.

Who owns the films that are created by students at the NZFA?

When you work on a film, you get a credit to show what you did. You can then use that project to show off your mad skills and contributions. The NZFA management acts as executive producer {the money} on each project, and reserves the right to use, at its discretion, any footage created by students while on the course, for NZFA publicity and promotional purposes only. But you are free to enter your films into as many festivals or competitions as you like!

What is the admissions policy at the NZFA?

Subject to a successful interview in person or via Skype or phone, there is a rolling admissions policy for all courses. Successful applicants are accepted throughout the year until each course is filled. Early application is recommended to ensure the intake you prefer.

What is the minimum age requirement?

As of 2016, the minimum age for the 16 week course is 18. The NZFA’s courses are intensive, and demand maturity, commitment and dedication. These are elements we identify at the interview stage. The average age of our students is early to mid 20’s.

What do I get at the end of the course?

Students who successfully complete the 16 week course will be awarded an NZQA Level 4 Certificate in Applied Filmmaking and Television Production, complete with a breakdown of their marks.

What is the policy for overseas students?

We enjoy hosting international students, and only ask that applicants have a proven desire to work in the film industry, and are able to communicate effectively using the English language – sometimes we will ask for proof of this, such as IELTS test results. Approximately half our students are from overseas, creating a rich melting pot of experience and inspiration, which translates directly into interesting short film projects.

What is the average day like?

Students should expect to be busy at least 5 full days a week. Tutorial and class days are usually from 9.30am to 4.00pm, however production days are usually longer and weekends are often included. Additional time will be spent during some evenings for editing and additional lectures, as the course progresses.

Will I get a job when I graduate?

This is a big question that requires some careful thought. The film industry is like the whole world of careers rolled into one. You can be a doctor, a chef, a cinematographer, an actor, an accountant or an artist – there is a career for you in the movies. However – there are very few examples of people leaving film school and being given a lead creative responsibility on a film. That is because it is all about your level of experience and your reputation. People want to see your commitment and trustworthiness. How do you gain that? In a word – apprenticeship. You have to make as many connections as possible, grab every opportunity that comes your way (even if it’s beneath you), then be reliable and enthusiastic. Then climb that ladder!
The other way is to take what you’ve learned here and become an originator. Form a group with your classmates, raise the funds and produce your own body of work. The key is, graduate here and gain a massive boost to your knowledge and skillset. Take what you have learned and start building an exciting career in the film industry.

What will I learn on this course?

Everyone starts at the beginning. Through the classes, tutors and practical exercise of making short films you will have the opportunity to gain the basic skills needed to:

  • Setup and operate a camera.
  • Expose and compose an image correctly.
  • Record sound and sync picture.
  • Ingest footage into a post-production workflow. Edit and render a movie.
  • Plan, budget, organise and deliver a film.
  • Structure, format and write a creative story/script.
  • Create and deliver a design brief. Source locations, wardrobe and props.
  • Cast and direct actors. Negotiate contracts.
  • Run a film set according to a schedule – call it! Direct it!

There’s a lot more. You will learn about what makes a good story. You will learn to work in a group -how to contribute – and where to compromise. Learn how to start becoming valuable! In summary, the NZFA film course has been designed in a way that, when you graduate, you will have a very good idea of what it takes to make a movie.