Screenwriters’ Lab in New Zealand

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Program Dates

May 22 through June 19, 2024

Program Overview

The small island nation of New Zealand, located in the Pacific Ocean, is the setting for this 4-week intensive screenwriting course. The Screenwriters’ Lab offers a select number of VMA/WLP students the opportunity to concentrate on and improve their film and television writing skills through regular workshops, discussions, writing exercises, and focused blocks of time for creative work. Creative work is complemented and informed by a wide range of co-curricular activities that utilize New Zealand’s unique culture, landscapes, storytelling traditions, and its robust film and television industry. The program will begin on the North Island, with visits to Auckland and Wellington, focusing on an introduction to indigenous Māori culture and history, as well as a visit to the Hobbiton movie set. The majority of the lab will then be based in Christchurch, a bustling port town on the South Island, known for its architecture, street art, and cafes. During the lab, students will adopt a professional writing approach with an intensive syllabus, work strategies, and strict deadlines. Emerson students will receive 8 VMA credits for this course.

Program Eligibility & Admission

  • Open to rising juniors and rising seniors.
  • Recommended for Visual & Media Arts; Writing, Literature, & Publishing; and Comedic Arts students.
  • Limited to 20 students.
  • Prerequisite for admission to the program is completion of one of the following courses: VM 220, VM221, or VM222. (Substitutions considered for WLP students.)

Course Information

Total of 8 credits. Students will be required to be enrolled by Emerson College in the following two courses:

  • VM 420 - Topics in Media Arts Practice: Screenwriting in New Zealand (4 credits)
  • VM 400 - Topics in Visual & Media Arts Studies: New Zealand Screenwriting (4 credits)

Course Materials

Students must arrive with the following:

  • Laptop with wireless capability
  • Screenwriting software equipped with the most recent version of Final Draft (although Celtx or Movie Magic Screenwriter are acceptable)
  • Notebooks
  • Two thumb drives

Academic Highlights

  • The program format includes discussion, script analysis and notes, workshops, writing exercises, cold readings, and focused blocks of time set aside for writing.
  • The screenwriting lab will adopt a professional writing approach, incorporating an intensive syllabus, work strategies and strict deadlines.
  • Early mornings and late afternoons will allow students to have their pages work-shopped and make revisions based on notes received.

Cultural Highlights

  • Traditional Māori welcome and cultural introduction at Auckland University of Technology
  • Visit to the Hobbiton movie set
  • Te Pā Tū, a Maori storytelling experience and shared meal in Rotorua
  • Te Papa National Museum
  • Weekend retreat in Queenstown, adventure capital of the world

Cost & Inclusions

Program Fee: $12,600

Included in Program Fee

  • Tuition (8 credits)
  • Registration Fee
  • Housing
  • Some meals
  • Ground transportation
  • In-country airfare between cities

Not Included in Program Fee

  • Round-trip airfare to/from Auckland, New Zealand (Est. $1,500-$2,000)
  • Most meals and incidental or personal expenses
  • Course materials
  • Passports (or visas, if required)
  • International Health Insurance*

*May be waived by those with alternate comparable insurance.

*Health Insurance Coverage: Participants must have an insurance plan that provides coverage while abroad. If you feel your current insurance is not adequate, please research a plan that is.

For information on Supplemental Health Plans, please visit our Health Insurance Requirements page.