The film and television industry in this small nation with a population of just over 4.4 million could be easily be overlooked by international filmmakers, indeed it probably was by the major Hollywood studios. But the global success of Lord of the Rings quickly brought the world's attention to New Zealand and its beauty, diversity and character are now well known.
The New Zealand government has made huge efforts to accommodate the film and TV industry, and it is easy to see why. In 2011 film contributed 2.4bn dollars to the economy. The government funded film commission is a great starting point for overseas producers as is the national film locations office Film NZ. More specifically, both Auckland and Wellington have dedicated film websites.
A New Zealand - China television co production agreement had its official signing ceremony on Thursday (20 November) 2014, building on the pre-existing agreement between the two countries from 2010.
Major international features to have shot recently in New Zealand have included the Disney fantasy A Wrinkle in Time, sci-fi action movie Ghost in the Shell and Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
Peter Jackson usually uses US funding for his own projects and was recently involved as a key creative on an adaptation of Mortal Engines. James Cameron will be based in New Zealand for parts of his upcoming Avatar sequels.
Productions wishing to film in New Zealand will have to have suitable public liability insurance in place. Depending on the type of filming, permission will need to be authorized through The New Zealand Film Commission, local councils, the New Zealand Transport agency, The Department for Conservation, Kiwirail, police and land owners.
Film NZ provides a detailed summary of permissions which would be a good starting point for anyone wanting to film in the country.
For filming in Auckland, contact must be made with Film Auckland who work alongside the city council. Their website proclaims that the Auckland region “Offers a film friendly philosophy” which includes a uniform locations application process and a 24 hour support line. Fees are not listed but are described as being “competitively priced” and “well below international rates”.
Filming permits for the capital should be organised through Film Wellington. More information as well as an online application forms can be found on their website.
Filming in Christchurch can be organised through the city council. The city’s film coordinator can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone +64 3 941 8999.
Auckland Film Studios are one of New Zealand’s largest studio facilities. 100% owned by local government it has housed plenty of big budget features including Emperor and The Chronicles of Narnia. It offers five studios, offices and workshops on a 10.5 hectare site.
Studio West in Auckland is located just 20 minutes from the international airport and city centre. It is home to a whole host of facilities including two sound stages, the largest of which being 525 sq m.
Auckland also now has Kumeu Film Studios, originally built as a set of water tanks but scheduled to offer sound stages by mid-2018.
Wellington’s Stone Street Studios, co-owned by Peter Jackson lie on an 8 acre site located 6km from the city centre and 1km from the international airport. Large parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed here as well as King Kong and the Hobbit.
Another smaller studio to be considered is Auckland’s Central Stage. They have a 176 square metre sound stage. Central Stage's website has information on how to hire.
More studios and related facilities can be found here on the KFTV directory.
Weta Digital is a digital visual effects company based in Wellington. It was founded by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor, and Jamie Selkirk in 1993 to produce the digital special effects for Heavenly Creatures.
Recently the company has evolved their motion capture technique to be able to leave studio for shooting on location, as utilized on the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Park Road Post Production is a 10,200 m² (110,000 ft²) motion picture post production facility, located in Miramar, Wellington.
Services offered at Park Road Post include: Foley/ADR suites, edit facilities, a sound library and fully automated digital audio mixing suites for TV and film, featuring Euphonix System 5-Fs. Recent productions include The Hobbit: There and Back Again, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Emperor.
New Zealand's post houses frequently work on major Hollywood movies that do not physically film in the country, including Blade Runner 2049 and Justice League.
Within the main two islands there are a huge variety of locations available considering the country’s relatively small size. The North Island has stunning beaches, active volcanos and extensive wilderness. Lake Taupo, at its centre, is the largest lake in New Zealand and provides breath taking vistas to Mount Ngauruhoe which acted as a stand in for Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings. Just across the Cook straight, the South Island’s scenery is spectacular.
The Southern Alps stretch the length of the island with the highest point being Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres.
Film Scouts New Zealand is a great place to start for anyone wanting to find out about filming locations in New Zealand. Film Scouts also offer assistance to productions looking to film in the country.
Auckland based Metro Film have a huge range of cameras, lenses and accessories.
The Queenstown Camera Company are a good port of call when you require camera equipment.
Rocket Rentals, who have a base in both Auckland and Wellington, offer a selection of cameras including the ARRI ALEXA XT, RED EPIC DRAGON, Sony PMW F5 and the Sony PMW 200.