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Film Wellington marks its 10th anniversary

For immediate release
July 14, 2006

Film Wellington marks its 10th anniversary

For the past decade Film Wellington has worked behind the scenes and alongside television and film-makers, to make this the country’s most ‘film-friendly’ region.

Out of this has come some of our most creative, memorable and financially important events.

Every Wellingtonian has a story about lining the red carpet for a world movie premier, going to The Lord of the Rings exhibition at Te Papa, meeting a Hollywood star, or watching a European film crew shoot an advertisement in our architecturally diverse city.

What may not be apparent is the value of these events.

The Te Papa exhibition was easily the country’s most popular ever and seen by over one million people worldwide, and international television commercials for accounts such as BMW or Honda frequently command million-dollar budgets.

“We know what Wellington and New Zealand have to gain out of these productions so we do what we can to secure them,” says Film Wellington’s Jean Johnston.

“Ours was the first regional film office in the country, and whether it means supporting the recent 48 Hours short film challenge or suggesting shooting locations we want to do what we can to support the industry.

“We’re glad to mark our tenth anniversary this week (week starting 17 July).”

A UK-based economic study called The Economic Contribution of the UK Film Industry, written by Oxford Economic Forecasting, found that The Lord of the Rings trilogy grew visitor spending in New Zealand by 17 percent and this was sustained for a number of years.

Jean is thankful for the public’s role in supporting sometimes disruptive film activities, and says a close relationship with the Wellington City Council makes her job possible.

In a typical year, Film Wellington’s staff of two issues over 200 permits for television and film projects, involving 650 locations.

It is the only film office in the country that can issue these permits, and was the first such office set up in New Zealand.

“Whether it is temporarily re-painting road markings, arranging a shoot on reserve land or closing a street for filming the Council’s help is invaluable.”

Film Wellington is currently working with The Lord of the Rings and Matrix producer Barrie Osborne on the movie The Water Horse.

“Barrie is a big figure in Hollywood and has bought a house here in Wellington – that’s the commitment and buy-in that has been generated.

“The studio work is being done at Stone Street Studios’ world class ‘Kong Stage’ here in Miramar, and we work with Film South to provide locations in the South Island.”

Film Wellington is a business unit of Positively Wellington Business (PWB), and PWB contributed $2m to the stage through New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s Regional Partnership Programme.

Facility manager Jamie Selkirk says: “In total the facility cost $10m to build, so you can see PWB’s help really made the expansion work possible.”

Last month’s NZIER report on the stage, which was commissioned by PWB, concluded that “the extension of the sound stage generated an additional $NZ65m of expenditure in the Wellington region and created an additional 218 full-time equivalent jobs during 2005.


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