DISC101-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Storytelling for the Digital Screen

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


What is involved in telling a story for the screen? This course is an introduction to key theoretical concepts and practical issues essential to storytelling in the film, game, and interactive media sectors. Topics include concept and story structure (including linear and branching narrative, thematic cohesion, plot and character development, the role of dialogue, and scripting). Practical issues covered include camera movement, framing and angles, lighting, and the use of colour and sound, the role of the audience and the effect of game mechanics in storytelling. A key theme of the course is an introduction to the ethics of storytelling: what stories do we want to tell, who tells them, and how do we ensure stories are told appropriately?

The overarching question for this course is: What is involved in telling a story for the screen? This question is addressed in 3 cross-cutting themes: 1) What are the key structural and practical components of stories on the digital screen? 2) What are key digital screen storytelling processes? And 3) What ethical issues do we need to consider in digital screen storytelling?
To address these questions, the following topics are covered in lectures and tutorials, with supporting readings and group discussion:

• The historical and cultural importance of storytelling
• Introduction to stories and storytelling for the digital screen
• What stories? Whose stories? Storytelling and world view
• Storytelling and te ao Māori
• Storytelling and the Pacific
• The components of a story for the digital screen
• The beginning: ideas, concepts, themes
• Story types (e.g. linear, branching, generative)
• Understanding plots
• Imagining characters
• Creating worlds
• Language and dialogue in storytelling
• More than words: camera movement, framing, angles, and lighting, & the role of the audience
• More than words: light and sound in storytelling
• Representing people and places: stereotypes and tropes
• Impactful stories: digital screen stories as changemakers

Learning Outcomes

  • On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
  • Critique storytelling concept, style and elements in films and games, to an introductory level
  • Analyse structure, plot and character development
  • Demonstrate how stories are created by more than words (e.g. with lighting and sound)
  • Discuss the ethics of storytelling, to an introductory level
  • Follow appropriate conventions to begin to produce a concept or short script for a digital screen production
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.

Course Coordinator

Hamuera Kahi


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
What makes a story? 30% What makes a story? 1000-1500 words.
Lighting and colour 20% Lighting and colour. 800-1000 words.
Ethical storytelling. 25% Ethical storytelling. Collaborative response to a case study.
Script sample. 25% Sample screenplay.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $916.00

International fee $4,488.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Aotahi School of Maori and Indigenous Studies .

All DISC101 Occurrences

  • DISC101-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023