Student stories

Hear about Screen Tools from students who have taken the course.

Matthew Chang

“When The Fellowship of the Ring movie came out, I was only five years old and I truly believed that Middle Earth existed. Those stories stayed with me throughout the years. Now I am a grad student in film-making because I want to create films just like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for my time and experience in the University of Auckland’s Screen Tools programme. I had a great taste of how professionals make films and best of all, we did it in New Zealand, the home of Middle Earth! Even better, one of the actors from The Hobbit was our instructor.

Hearing stories from behind the scenes of the movies, exploring The Hobbit set, and visiting Weta Workshop has been a dream come true. All of these things together in one programme was the best time of my life. Thanks to Screen Tools and the University of Auckland for giving me a great first start in this industry.”

Abigail Turner

“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.”

Mauricio Martinez

"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.”