Student testimonials

Mauricio Martinez, Mexico (studying in Canada)

"Screen Tools offers a unique opportunity to students who are film enthusiasts and hungry for an adventure to develop their practical skills in almost every aspect of screen production. The course is both challenging and creatively rewarding. While each student gets assigned a specific role, tutors help the whole team to tightly collaborate so that everyone has a comprehensive understanding of their tasks.

Having undertaken the role of First Assistant Director, I had the task of scheduling the shoots and making sure the Director had time to get the shots that he pictured within the available timeframe. It was challenging at first because you have to keep an eye on every detail on set while also being time-conscious ensuring set changes are done and actors are ready to shoot on time. The most exciting part of the job was calling the shots, and the challenge of making sure the shoot ran smoothly.

The university staff and programme convenor have created a unique programme which packs all sorts of activities into a very intense and rewarding month. The activities help students get insight into the industry, practice with major production roles under competitive pressure, and they also are just great fun. One of my best memories of the course was our one-of-a-kind trip to Hobbiton where John [the course tutor] shared stories of his personal experiences working in the Hobbit franchise.”

Abigail Turner, USA

“New Zealand has been a dream destination for me since I discovered its incredible culture and landscapes in behind-the-scenes footage from The Lord of the Rings films. I chose the University of Auckland mainly because of the film and media programmes. I’ve combined an intensive, practical experience related to my area of study (the Screen Tools short course) with a semester of Study Abroad afterwards.

Staff from the Faculty of Arts and the International Office are extremely kind and welcoming – many are international too. They empathised with our experience and offered advice for adjustment, places to explore and anything University- and New Zealand-related. I didn’t expect Māori culture to be as prevalent as it is, and I couldn’t be more pleased by this. At first I was worried this would amplify culture shock and feeling like an outsider, but I was made to feel welcome and encouraged to explore the culture. I learned quickly New Zealand is so much more than Middle Earth, but travelling to film locations and studios on the Screen Tools course definitely satisfied this fan’s fantasies.”

Stella Staab, New Zealand

"This course played a primary role in solidifying my passion for the film industry and to this day remains one of the fondest of my university experiences. Having the guidance of John Callen is easily one of the key reasons this course is so fantastic, each class leaves you feeling considerably up-skilled and increasingly excited about a future in the film industry.

Not only does the course allow for focus on particular areas of interest (for me this was directing), it also introduces and emphasizes the collaborative nature of the industry, allowing for friendships which have transcended my studies, into my working life."

Today Stella is working on a NZ on Air, platinum funded documentary series at Greenstone TV, one of New Zealand’s largest production companies, and is excited to continue building a career in film and television.

Jonathan Potton, New Zealand

"I thought this was a fantastic course, and gave me invaluable production experience. The team environment was crucial for my preparation for working in the industry. The tutors were incredibly knowledgeable, and brought real world expertise to their teaching. I would recommend this course to anyone who is looking to work in production."

Jonathan is account manager at Chillbox Creative, a business he co-founded with 5 others while completing his University studies. The company produces web video content for companies such as Spark, NZOC, MOTAT and Genesis Energy.

Rebecca McFadzien, New Zealand

"I auditioned as an actor for the course and was cast knowing no-one, and having never worked as a lead in an on-screen project before. I learned the terminology and protocols required on set, while also getting a taste for the intimate world of acting for screen.

We shot the web series over a few weeks under the skilful, nurturing and daring guidance of John Callen, who is still to this day a wise mentor and dear friend. I have continued to work with many students who were part of the class over the years. I honestly can't imagine a better way to have kickstarted my career and lifelong adoration for screen acting!"

Rebecca has worked on Shortland Street, Power Rangers and a variety of short films and web series. She now lives and works as an actress in Los Angeles.

Moana McArtney, New Zealand

"In 2012 I was involved in the course as an actor. I remember it being a wonderfully supportive environment and a cohesive, well thought out course. Everybody had their share of the spotlight, power of decision making and a good fair shot at practising their magic. For me, the experience was one that I will remember as a turning point - the course reminded me of my passion for my job and I decided to go to drama school. One of the best decisions I have made with my life thus far.

I have since gone on to have multiple successful and unforgettable experiences in the theatre, film and TV industry, as well as writing, producing and acting in a show of my own together with a group of friends from drama school."

Moana is now living in London pursuing a career in acting and music.