New Zealand and Australia on the map for students

Students hoping for a good look at the Shire from “The Lord of the Rings” or a scenic trip through the land down under have signed up for a new study abroad program in New Zealand and Australia offered by the film-TV-digital media department.

The summer program, which takes place over three weeks, is open to all majors and will be supervised by FTDM professors Tricia Jenkins and Andy Haskett. According to the FTDM study abroad Web site, the program will only be offered once by the department every three to four years.

Haskett said the idea for the program came from the two professors’ backgrounds. Jenkins’ husband is Australian and has seen much of the country’s culture firsthand. Haskett spent his formative years as a teenager in Australia at a time when he said the country’s film and television industry was developing its own identity. Jenkins applied for an instructional development grant given to professors who create new courses.
“For this particular department it made sense to draw on the experiences and expertise of those who are already here, so New Zealand and Australia would be a good opportunity for that,” Jenkins said.

The airing on premium channel HBO of Australian series “Summer Heights High” and “Flight of the Conchords,” which features the New Zealand comedy duo of the same name, highlights how both countries’ television industries have grown and can market programs internationally instead of just domestically, Jenkins said.

Haskett said his only regret is that students won’t be able to see all of the attractions but are encouraged to go on side trips through the rest of the countries once the program is over.

The programs’s two courses will focus on topics like the historical figures and themes explored in Australian and New Zealand film and television. The program also studies the cultural effect of the indigenous groups of the two countries, the Maori of New Zealand and the Aborigines of Australia. Haskett said the two countries have different qualities that make them attractive for the courses and that Australia is home to an array of different landscapes made popular through its films.

“Sydney is kind of a brash, modern city, and Melbourne is almost a stately European kind of city,” Haskett said. “I think it will be nice. They do a lot of TV production in both places and a lot of film.”

The program will only be offered ever 3 to 4 years because of Jenkins’ family responsibilities, Jenkins said. With a three-year old at home and a husband at home, Jenkins said it would be too big of a strain for the three week trip to be offered on a regular basis.

The program fee for students is $3,600, but with TCU paying 25 percent of each fee, the total comes out to $2,700, according to the FTDM study abroad program. The program fee doesn’t cover the cost of tuition for summer credit hours and other fees like airplane tickets, meals and laundry.

Junior communication studies major Shelbi Adair said she registered for the courses and is confirmed to go on the trip. Adair, a member of Student Filmmakers Association, said she’s excited by the prospect of going to the two countries.

“Australia is one of the top places I’ve wanted to visit, so it all just fell into place perfectly when that was the main place for the trip,” Adair said.