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Issue No 59

“Kia ora. My name is Boy and welcome to my interesting world.” With these words Boy invited audiences to watch Taika Waititi’s highly successful comedy/drama. Cinema opens windows into multiple worlds; the study of film provides the tools with which to explore and understand these worlds.

For New Zealand actor Sam Neill, a long, lonely road was an essential image in the landscape of New Zealand filmmaking when he co-directed Cinema of Unease in 1996 with filmmaker Judy Rymer. Over the years talented scriptwriters, directors and producers have travelled this road. Today New Zealand cinema has moved far from its uneasy beginnings. It has become an international thoroughfare where the cinemas of the world, including Hollywood and Bollywood, come to tell stories using New Zealand’s production and post-production facilities, employing local actors, crew and other technical staff. The study of Film makes it possible to consider the diversity in New Zealand cinema and in all cinemas of the world. The disciplined approach to studying these cinemas allows students to better understand not only how cinema itself functions, but also how New Zealand cinema contributes to the global cinematic tapestry.

play? How do filmmakers contribute to culture and influence societal attitudes? How can other disciplines, such as psychology, help us to better understand film? Film explores the breadth and depth of motion picture making from the early days of cinema to the multiplex era we now live in, giving graduates the knowledge they need to decide how they wish to work within the film industry. The focus of Film at university is on the theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to films. There are also practical components designed to foster creativity and enhance understanding of filmmaking. The creative and technical aspects of film production cover scripting, narrative structure, genre, cinematography, mise-en-scène, performance, sound recording and mixing, editing, camera and lighting, and directing. The language of film is specific to the industry and students learn how to use it. They also learn critical approaches to the analysis of production and critical theories of film aesthetics. Studies may cover topics such as the birth of cinema, the coming of sound, classical Hollywood, film noir, Italian neo-realism, Bollywood, Antipodean cinemas and indigenous filmmaking, digital cinema, CGI and special effects, romantic comedy, crime films, interactive documentaries, critical approaches to film and recent developments in film theory.

“Since time began humankind has gathered round campfires in the dark to listen to stories. They remind us of who we are, where we have come from, and where we want to go. I think today the cinema is the modern campfire and audiences go to the dark space of the cinema and sit in the light of the screen to get their stories,” says New Zealand film director, Gaylene Preston. As an art of audio-visual storytelling, film is a medium of communication rich with social implications, created within different social, historical and cultural contexts. University studies explore the significance of cinema in society, and articulate a number of key questions. How do different societies express themselves through film? What part does a director’s vision

Topical coverage of career related issues brought to you by Victoria University Career Development and Employment. Areas covered include how degrees and courses relate to employment opportunities, to life/work planning, graduate destination information and current issues or material relevant to the employment scene. Your comments and suggestions always welcomed.



Those who earn their living in the film industry are highly motivated – they can’t imagine doing anything else. It is a high-risk, low-security business, which demands stamina and discipline, imagination, optimism, talent and a high tolerance for sleep deprivation. While the academic study of film is not vocational training, it offers a unique and exciting educative process that combines creative and practical with historical, theoretical and critical analysis. The outcome is a degree that is recognised and respected nationally and internationally.

images, they will also become adept at conveying their own ideas by using the technical language of filmmaking and criticism. Through practical projects, oral assessments and written assignments students present their work in a range of exciting mediums. Creativity Film provides many opportunities to develop original ideas through the medium of film. Practical projects and written assignments encourage students to take unique and personalised perspectives on a variety of subjects. In the production courses creativity is encouraged and fostered through scriptwriting, opportunities to direct scripts and creatively realise vision, and edit audio and visual materials in post-production suites. The result is the shaping of a creative voice that is supported by a diverse set of skills relevant in many fields. Teamwork Film is very much about working together. In film production, projects cannot be completed alone, and in film theory students need to develop their work by drawing on the theoretical writing of others. For that reason, studying film helps students actively develop team skills through collaborative production projects and class assignments.

Students learn some practical skills in filmmaking so they are familiar with some of the processes and techniques of filmmaking should they wish to go further into film production or post-production. Film is also academically demanding and hones skills that are transferable to a range of careers. Critical Thinking A key skill, critical analysis enables students to identify, evaluate and critique the many complex elements of film including the quality of scripts, direction, production and post-production. Using different theoretical models students analyse and interpret films. As active, critical viewers they ask questions, make inferences and identify how films connect to a wider social context. Research Students do extensive research about all aspects of film – history, social context, genres, the development of cinematic techniques and technology. Research involves a process of asking questions, gathering information (facts and concepts) and evaluating material. Research skills are sought by many employers. Audio-Visual Literacy Students acquire high levels of audio-visual literacy as they learn to read, understand, interpret and communicate about films. Visual information is an increasingly prevalent means of communication. Understanding how the moving image creates meaning is a powerful skill of increasing relevance in many fields. Communication Through careful arrangement of visual media and sound, film is all about communication. As students become more proficient in understanding moving

A degree in the arts and humanities is useful in many areas of work. The opportunities to make a career in film production in New Zealand are limited but increasing. While Film offers practical courses that cover topics such as directing, production and postproduction, career training often happens on the job. That said, taking Film at university has been a starting point for graduate careers in film or television, journalism, arts management and administration, teaching or academic careers, scriptwriting, production, postproduction, advertising, media and publicity. When combined with another skill or trade (e.g. electrician, building, design, art, audio-engineering) or another degree (music, IT, engineering, architecture, law), Film provides valuable background knowledge of cinematic practice and theory relevant to a number of careers related to the industry. Graduates of Film may find positions with film companies, film archives and film festivals. Work for specific films and events is short term and contractual. A major in Film also develops the skills required to work in government, not-for-profit or private sector organisations. Areas include communications, public relations, technical writing, advertising and educational media.

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Public Sector
Government departments, ministries and government agencies employ graduates with Arts degrees to entrylevel positions such as: assistant policy analyst, policy advisor, ministerial writer, administration officer/ assistant, communications officer/advisor, research assistant and library assistant. Some ministries have graduate development programmes, depending on their recruitment needs and the economic climate. Ministry for Culture and Heritage This Ministry advises the government on arts, culture, heritage, sport and recreation and broadcasting. The Ministry employs policy analysts and advisors, and administration staff. The person specification for a graduate entry-level position may stipulate: excellent, proven analytical skills; high-level oral and written communication skills; strong people skills; self-confidence and the ability to relate and work with a diverse range of others; a good postgraduate degree: Honours degree or higher; or a conjoint degree including either law, economics or science; an interest in issues pertaining to the work of the particular ministry. New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) has the statutory responsibility “to encourage, participate and assist in the making, promotion, distribution and exhibition of films” made in New Zealand by New Zealanders on New Zealand subjects. The NZFC provides loans and equity financing to New Zealand filmmakers to assist in the development and production of feature films and short films being made in New Zealand. The NZFC does not itself produce films. The NZFC is also active in the sales and marketing of New Zealand films, and it assists with training and professional development within the industry. NZ on Air is a government broadcast funding agency that invests in a range of local television, radio, music and new media content to extend choices for New Zealand audiences. Film Archive The Film Archive, based in Wellington with an office in Auckland, is dedicated “to collect, protect and connect New Zealand’s film and television history.” The Archive has many different roles within three main divisions – collection and acquisition, conservation and outreach. There are regular events and screenings and opportunities for networking.

Private Sector
Film and Television Companies These are based mainly in Auckland and Wellington. They are involved in the production of films and television programmes and hire permanent and contract workers. Production Production is the complex process of shooting and recording a film. About one third of production roles require conceptual creativity (actors, scriptwriter, director, producer, art direction, production design), two thirds are technical (camera, lighting, sound, makeup) or administrative. The industry in New Zealand is small; networking is essential to get a foot on the bottom rung of the film industry hierarchy. It is also useful to get an edge, being able to offer a skill that sets you apart from the competition (e.g. a First Aid Certificate or a Heavy Truck licence). Depending on their skills graduates may consider the entry-level support role of Runner, who helps to make shooting run smoothly by doing a myriad of basic jobs. Producer’s Assistants work closely with Producers, providing administrative support and graduates with the right skills and qualities may consider this as a starting role. Duties can include script development, running the office, interviewing personnel, liaising between the producer and the post-production team, helping to prepare publicity materials, and other tasks. They must be reliable, well organised and flexible, be excellent communicators and have a good understanding of the film production process. Producers are responsible for managing the process of production from the original idea to the final product. Producers need considerable experience, business acumen and a thorough understanding of the technique and technology of film and/or television. Post-Production After a film is shot, special effects are added and edited, and the material is put together to make the final product. Post-production processes include: picture editing, sound editing, composing and recording the score, music editing, adding visual special effects and audio sound effects. The transition from film to digital recording is bringing changes to the postproduction process. Technical expertise in computer systems engineering is advantageous for roles such as data wrangler as post-production companies need people with IT skills to manage digital information from shooting and SFX processes.

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BA graduates can be sought after for their skills in writing, research and organised thinking which can be applied to issues that face the industry, such as the change from film to digital. Film Distribution A film distributor is a company that releases films to the public, targeting the widest possible audience. Roles involve marketing, promotion, publicity and sales. Multinational distributors have offices in New Zealand and there are some small local companies. Marketing and Publicity Marketing and publicity professionals plan and implement marketing campaigns for films. Film Publicists work within different levels of the publicity process. Unit Publicists (UPs) liaise between producers, cast, crew and the media during film shoots. The publicity they generate helps sell films and create public interest. UPs work with producers, distributors and sales agents to plan all press strategy for film shoots, ensuring the right amount of information is released at specific times so press coverage is maximised when the film is released. Excellent written communication and interpersonal skills are necessary. UPs create electronic and hard copy press packs, write bios and film synopses, oversee still photography and provide captions. A Publicist may also help Distributors decide how to advertise films so as to maximise audience numbers. Planning how to position a film begins during pre-production, or early in production. Education Teaching in secondary schools is a rewarding career for graduates with a passion for the arts and the desire to work with young people. Film and visual literacy are included in the curriculum. Early childhood and primary teaching are options for those wanting to work with children to establish the foundations of literacy and creativity. Students may do a four-year conjoint degree with a Bachelor of Teaching and double major or a one-year, Graduate Diploma of Teaching following graduation with a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Teaching at university level usually requires a PhD. Film students can advance their research and teaching skills by undertaking a Master's or PhD degree, and may have the opportunity to tutor undergraduate students part time. Many students also go overseas to study. Other roles in tertiary institutions include academic advisors, career consultants or administrators. Films, videos/DVDs and multi-media are important

educational resources. The creation of resources is an exciting growth area in the private sector and may combine creative talent with skills in film production, design and multi-media, research and writing. Journalism Film graduates intending to work as permanent editorial staff (reporters, sub-editors, editors) in the media usually require a Diploma in Journalism. It is possible to write freelance for niche publications without an industry qualification. Some journalists specialise in arts and entertainment or write film reviews for newspapers. Others work for film magazines and write in depth critical analyses, relating films to social contexts. Opportunities for this kind of work are few and generally found overseas. Professional Writing Few scriptwriters make a living fulltime, usually for television. Many supplement their income by doing other kinds of writing such as copy writing for advertising, or for museum and art gallery exhibitions. Technical and instructional writing is another option; this includes writing manuals and instructional information for appliances and other technology, health and safety procedures for companies and so on. Writing for the internet is a growing area as more material goes online.

Although industrial bodies in New Zealand are not designed to help graduates find jobs, they do provide invaluable support for those who work in the field. New Zealand is fortunate to have a variety of resources for working professionals in the film industry that graduates may ultimately come to rely on. New Zealand Writers Guild The New Zealand Writers Guild is a professional association of scriptwriters and is a registered trade union. It represents the interests of writers in the fields of film, television, theatre, radio, comics and new media. The Guild’s members include most of the professional scriptwriters working in New Zealand. Film courses will often take out a membership for students for the duration of the course. The Guild advises: “New Zealand has a small screen industry and only a few writers in New Zealand earn enough from writing purely for film to earn a living wage. If you are tenacious and work hard, however, it is possible to make a career from being a scriptwriter in New Zealand. Most scriptwriters in New Zealand tend to write across mediums – including television, film,

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theatre, radio, prose, print, new media – or pick up other industry based jobs (director, producer, editor) as it provides a diversity of income and avoids literally putting all their income eggs in one basket.” SPADA, Screen Production and Development Association SPADA members include producers, directors, production companies and allied craft professionals working in film, television, TVC, video, post-production, animation and interactive media; lawyers and accountants, completion guarantors and industry suppliers. There is Youth/Student Membership for emerging producers under 25 years of age, and full-time students. New Zealand Film and Video Technicians’ Guild The New Zealand Film and Video Technicians’ Guild is a non-profit professional organisation representing the interests of film and video workers and allied crafts in the New Zealand screen production industry. The Guild membership includes film and video camera, sound, lighting, grips, art department, makeup, wardrobe, assistant directors, editors, broadcast, set construction, location managers, production managers and co-ordinators, script supervisors, SPFX & VFX technicians, technical directors, animal wranglers, on-set nurses and safety. Film Society and Film Festivals A small team runs New Zealand film festivals. There are opportunities for voluntary work, for networking and learning, as filmmakers from both New Zealand and around the world appear and discuss their craft.

Tory Whanau
Film Censor Office of Film and Literature Classification
Ever since I was a small child I had a passion for film. My grandfather was an actor so I was introduced to the industry at a very young age. I loved New Zealand films, with The Silent One being one of my favourites. My sister and I used to make silly horror movies with the family camcorder for fun. At the time I never thought it was an industry you could actually work in. While I was at high school, Media Studies had just become a new subject. I was ecstatic! Here I gained insight into analysing and critiquing films, and I knew that was something I wanted to continue doing in life. I went to Victoria’s open day in my last year at high school and discovered I could study film in a more theoretical manner there. I had already decided that film production wasn’t really my interest, and that I was more interested in film theory. Victoria’s Film major was perfect for that. I enrolled as soon as I could and started selecting papers to complement the Film major, such as English and Media Studies. In Film there was a range of content. You had the option of studying the history of film, different genres, film production, documentary film, and of course my favourite subject, film in New Zealand. It was also great to see a range of different personalities among the students. There were those who loved art-house then you had people like me who enjoyed mainstream cinema, film marketing and publicity and box office trends. After graduating I felt very knowledgeable about the film industry in general, and was dubbed the ‘film buff,” of my friends. I also felt educated enough to try and work in the industry. Two weeks after completing my degree I managed to secure a role as Business Affairs Assistant at the New Zealand Film Commission. Eventually I was promoted to Short Film Assistant where I gained an appreciation for short films. My degree gave me the advanced ability to analyse and critique films, and gave me the basic knowledge around film marketing and publicity. In my most recent role as a Film Censor, my task was to analyse and classify a range of New Zealand and international films. Talk about a dream job! I definitely would not have been able to secure the role without my degree and film background.

Following is a sample of job titles reported in graduate employment destination surveys. Some roles may require additional qualifications and training. Actor, Arts administrator, Casting assistant, Cinematographer, Community arts worker, Costume designer, Critic/reviewer, Film and video technician, Film archivist, Film critic/reviewer, Film distributor (publicity, marketing, sales), Film editor, Film/TV producer, Funding assistant, Independent or industrial filmmaker, Lecturer/tutor, Marketing assistant, Journalist – arts and entertainment, Producer (assistant), Production designer, Program researcher, Prop maker, Publicist, Scriptwriter, Set designer, Sound editor, Story editor, Teacher

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If you’re considering a career in film, more particularly behind the scenes, this degree is perfect. If film is already one of your passions, the work is actually very easy, however I wouldn’t have got into the film industry without the knowledge I gained from the degree.

A career in film and TV requires a good deal of passion, drive and self-belief. You may not have the stable comfortable lifestyle of some of your fellow graduates with ‘sensible’ qualifications, but you will have the satisfaction of creative self-expression to more than make up for it!

Mathieu Fraser
Editor Sauce Films
From an early age I knew I wanted to work in a creative field. So after completing an undergraduate degree in Music majoring in Composition at Victoria University, I re-enrolled in film. Originally I wanted to get involved in the sound side of film and TV, but as it happens I have ended up a picture editor. My time at Victoria University was fantastic for massively expanding my creative horizons and it also gave me a good academic understanding of film. One of the first lessons I learnt was that a qualification certainly does not guarantee you a job. So I built up my skills working voluntarily on various short films and music videos, which is what eventually made me ‘employable’. Working on such projects can be invaluable for expanding your networks and the non-paying jobs are often the ones which allow you the greatest creative freedom. The film and TV industry is quite hierarchical, so once I landed myself an entry-level position in post-production, it was a matter of slowly working my way up the ranks. Since becoming a full-time editor I have been lucky enough to work on a wide variety of jobs from corporate videos to music videos, television commercials, television episodes, documentary and short films. My aim is to cut feature films. Working in any creative industry is tough and competitive. Most technicians and craftspeople are selfemployed, so you need to be a self-starter. Job opportunities are rarely advertised so networking is also very important. It also helps if you are prepared to follow the work and move cities for big projects if need be. This is particularly true if you want to work in production. There are many, many different disciplines within the areas of pre-production, production and postproduction - from scriptwriting to balancing the books. So there really is something out there for everyone.

Rosie Hole
Partnerships and Production Coordinator, Digital Channels, TVNZ
Like many, when I arrived at university I had little idea of what I really wanted to do and sampled a range of courses across a number of disciplines. When I took my first Film paper in my second year, a whole new world opened up for me and I’ll never forget the amazing films I was introduced to at that time. I was hooked. The best thing about studying Film at Victoria University was the opportunity to combine the theoretical study of film with courses that had a more practical production focus, allowing me to approach filmmaking with a much richer knowledge and appreciation for the medium and its history. I remember my third-year production paper as intense and all consuming, but also one of my most memorable experiences of university. The Film Department is small enough that you get to know your classmates and lecturers really well, and these are the people I have kept in touch with since leaving university. The dual theoretical and practical focus of my Film major instilled in me a range of valuable skills. On the one hand I developed my writing and critical analysis skills, while on the other, I learnt what was involved in producing short films as well as having the opportunity to develop my creative voice. All of this is significant because the film and television industry is evolving at such a rapid pace; increasingly what is most important is being flexible and multi-talented. I started working at Television New Zealand around six months after I graduated, and I’m still there, now working in the Digital Channels team, where the emphasis is on finding creative ways to provide viewers with engaging content on relatively low budgets. My role is focused on production, event management and other projects for four very different free-to-air and pay television channels. One day I

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might be writing a proposal, another I might be putting together a production schedule, so in this environment, the range of skills I developed at university and a willingness to be adaptable has helped me greatly. One thing I would encourage prospective students to think about is what they are passionate about. A career in film and television isn’t easy – it can be competitive as the good jobs are limited, so having a passion for what you do is really important in keeping you motivated. If you do decide Film is your thing, make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you, both at university and outside of it as you never know where something might lead, and the more experience you have the better.

Being able to talk with a client using the correct terms and with an understanding of the underlying theories is a huge advantage. You are presenting yourself in a professional manner because you have taken the time to learn your craft. After completing my studies at Victoria University I was lucky enough to get a traineeship with Park Road Post Production. I honestly believe that my BA(Hons) was instrumental in getting me this opportunity. The film industry is incredibly competitive. My education helped me stand out from the pack and gave me an advantage. It showed that I was serious about my career and that I was willing to put the time in to learn my craft. If I can pass on any advice it’s that things will go wrong, it’s just a fact of life.  There will always be hiccups, trials and tribulations.  Nothing ever goes as planned. Just find something you are passionate about and let that passion guide you through whatever obstacles come your way.  Do what you love and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Gareth Evans
Senior Laboratory Operator Park Road Post-production Ltd
I started University a little later than most. I had already trained, worked and been laid off from the film industry. In fact when I started at Victoria I was reluctant to study any film papers at all. My love for film had burned out, at least that’s what I thought. To my surprise the embers still flickered and by the end of my first year I had decided to do a double major in Film and Philosophy. Why the sudden change of heart? I realised it was the opportunity to approach film from a different angle, to think about it deeply and with breadth. It was the opportunity to study not just the nuts and bolts of filmmaking but also where it had come from and where it was going. My love of film had been reinvigorated. Key to this change in thinking was the friends I made along the way, both my fellow students and lecturers. There is nothing better on a cold winter morning than sharing a coffee with a friend and geeking out over a movie. It was this aspect, the social aspect that I enjoyed most about my time at Victoria. To talk about film with confidence is the single most important skill I learned while studying at Vic. Working in the post-production industry I am often asked to form an opinion about a project after a single viewing. This can be incredibly daunting at first but something that we practiced over and over again in class.

Brady Hammond
Lecturer in Film Victoria University of Wellington
Although I chose film as a field of study years ago, teaching was the profession I really wanted to pursue. While I had been lucky enough to get work teaching, I knew that I would need a PhD to ever make a true career of it. To that end I started on a search to find a programme that offered a PhD in Film Studies. However, I didn’t want a standard programme that slotted me into a predesigned research stream. I wanted to pursue research that interested me and that I felt was important for the field. My search ultimately led me to the Victoria University Film Programme where the research proposal I had developed was shepherded along by the faculty. Although I had already completed two postgraduate degrees before coming to Victoria, the PhD was a very different experience. Working with three supervisors, my thesis slowly took shape, developing over time with avenues of exploration opening and closing. The process was as much a learning experience as the research I was conducting was. In the end, though, the hard work I put into meeting the challenges my

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supervisors placed before me resulted in a thesis that I am very proud to have my name attached to, and it certainly would not have been as effective had I not had the additional support. In the time I spent working on my degree, I was also given an exceptional look at the workings of a university department. Since I hope to be a teacher, the experience I received was invaluable in terms of preparing me for the challenges posed by academic employment. Additionally, I was able to build a network of connections in Film which have greatly helped me transition from PhD candidate to PhD graduate. This was largely due to the support available to postgraduate students. Since the completion of my degree, I have been fortunate enough to teach for the programme as well. I have found that the lessons I learned during my degree have helped to make me a better instructor as well as a better academic, and it is these qualities that I will carry with me as I continue to pursue a career I love in a field I love. The Film Programme is part of the School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies at Victoria University. The four disciplines share a common focus on the creation, production and interpretation of texts, whether written, spoken, theatrical, cinematic, televised, or electronic. The Film Programme furthers the understanding of cinema as an art of narrative, spectacle and performance, as well as a medium with important social implications within a university context of research and teaching in the creative arts and humanities. Though its aim is not primarily to offer vocational or technical training, the programme stresses practical work whenever possible. Film in New Zealand is enjoying unprecedented attention as local filmmakers and their works catch the eye of the global audience. At Victoria, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) major in Film is a major in taking film seriously. Students begin their first year with an introduction to film study. Then they can pursue their interests with courses that focus on international and New Zealand film, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Film courses are also relevant to majors in many other disciplines. Double majors are encouraged and suitable subjects include Art History, English Literature, English Studies, History, Media Studies, Modern Language Studies, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Theatre. Postgraduate qualifications in Film are also offered at Victoria and include Graduate and Postgraduate Diplomas in Arts, Bachelor of Arts with Honours, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Staff of the programme are engaged in research and filmmaking.

Photo: Paul Wolfram

Special thanks to:
The School of English, Film, Theatre, and Media Studies, in particular Thierry Jutel, Head of School and administration staff La’Chelle Pretorius and Morna Lorden; graduates Gareth Evans, Matieu Fraser, Brady Hammond, Rosie Hole, Tory Whanau; and all those people who contributed to this publication. Career View is published by Career Development and Employment Victoria University of Wellington, Te Whare Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui PO Box 600, Wellington 6140, Tel: 64-4-463-5393, Fax 64-4-463-5252 November 2011 ISSN 1172-4315

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