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Screenshot from Mortal Engines movie

Studying Film in New Zealand Makes Students Hollywood-Ready!

Where’s the best place to study if you’re looking for a global career in the film industry?

For increasing numbers of international students, the answer is New Zealand.

New Zealand’s film industry is responsible for game-changing films such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Avatar and King Kong.

And supplying its filmmakers with fresh new talent is an innovative, future-focused education system that gives students the knowledge, skills and experience to thrive anywhere in the world.

When the filmmakers and studios behind the new epic blockbuster Mortal Engines were deciding where to make the movie, New Zealand was an obvious choice.

Director Christian Rivers says New Zealand was chosen because of its world class crew, talent, technicians and facilities.

Nearly all the heads of department and 98% of the crew on Mortal Engines were New Zealand residents. Several former international students also worked on the film.

So what is it about New Zealand’s education system that makes it a stand-out choice for film industry students?

1. Students learn to think for themselves, come up with their own ideas and work with others to find solutions.

Rather than memorising information from textbooks, students develop in-demand skills such as critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration.

For Courtenay Tokorangi, studying for a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts (Production Design and Management) at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland taught her to work under pressure and solve problems quickly.

They proved to be vital skills for her job as set decorator painting assistant on Mortal Engines.

“At Unitec, we had a lot of creative freedom”

“We weren’t just told what to do and how to do it; we were given the space to solve problems and make mistakes and grow.” she says.

2. Students apply their knowledge to real-life work situations.

Filmmaking students work on projects that have an impact on the real world. They might be working on real-life scenarios in the classroom, or doing work experience alongside film industry professionals.

It’s a style of learning that employers value – and that gives students a network of contacts to tap into when they graduate.

Chinese student Hening (Ted) Wang had always dreamed of studying in the country responsible for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Studying an advanced digital media course at Yoobee School of Design introduced him to New Zealand’s practical, hands-on way of learning.

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Ted's tutor at Yoobee recommended him for his current role as junior concept artist on Mortal Engines.

3. Students benefit from a high quality, innovative education system that is always looking to the future.

In 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked New Zealand as first in the world at educating students for the future.

When Oscar Perry was studying a Bachelor of Design Innovation at Victoria University of Wellington, he appreciated that the university was “future forecasting all the time, figuring out what is going to be big”.

Now a prop designer for Mortal Engines, Oscar Perry says his New Zealand education was great preparation for his career. “I use pretty much all the skills I learned at university on a day-to-day basis.”

“There were so many interesting briefs and we had the chance to work on real life projects as well”

Recent graduates share their journeys from studying to working in the film industry.


By Linley Boniface

Updated 3 years ago

Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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