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SCOM 405: Making a Science or Natural History Film


It's one thing to know how to use a camera and record images - but there is a lot more to filmmaking than just filming. This paper involves understanding the process and business of filmmaking, as well as developing the necessary critiquing skills to differentiate between bad filmmaking and good filmmaking.
The latter is a really crucial skill to develop if one is to survive in what is a notoriously cutthroat industry.


  • Develop an understanding of the processes and personnel required for the production of science and natural history films.
  • Develop skills appropriate for the business of factual filmmaking.
  • Develop critiquing skills for analysing documentaries.

Examples of components of this paper:

  • The role of personnel in the production of a documentary.
  • The business of factual filmmaking.
  • Critiquing science and natural history films.
  • Pitching ideas.
  • Budgeting.
  • Marketing.
Part of this paper includes presentations by personnel from NHNZ about their respective roles in the production of a documentary.

Examples of practical exercises associated with this paper:

  • Watching and critiquing documentaries.
  • Preparation of a pitch.
  • Live pitching sessions.
  • Writing a business plan.


Available ONLY to students enrolled in the MSciComm in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

Next Application Deadlines

Applications for PhD study can be accepted at any time.

New Zealand Resident Applications for second semester study (excluding Science and Natural History Filmmaking) close 2 June

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