The Meg producers helped set up NZ film studio

The producers of giant shark movie The Meg helped set up a new production facility for the shoot near Auckland in New Zealand.

The producers of giant shark movie The Meg helped set up a new production facility for the shoot near Auckland in New Zealand.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub, The Meg features action star Jason Statham in a story that pitches a group of marine experts against a giant prehistoric shark called a megalodon.

The Meg producers helped set up NZ film studio
Kumeu Film Studios

Having opted to film much of the production in New Zealand, Warner Bros and Gravity Pictures formed a partnership with local authorities to develop new water tank facilities on industrial land outside Auckland that would become Kumeu Film Studios (KFS).

During filming of The Meg, a specialist filtration system called 'Hydroxypure' was used to ensure the water in the tanks remained clear.

“It basically makes the water very neutral and very clear,” says David Murrell, a dive co-ordinator on the film. “One of the problems of filming in water is if it’s murky, you can’t clean it up.

“You can do a lot of things with visual effects, but if you can’t see it on camera in the first place, you can’t make it clearer. It’s very rare to have an exterior tank that warm and that well-filtrated, so it was a hell of a feat.”

Limited open-water filming also took place in the Hauraki Gulf to the east of Auckland. A 50-foot Technocrane was mounted in its own boat and a flotilla of support vessels was home to all the various supporting departments of the production.

The Meg

“Shooting out on the water is adventurous and fun, but you have so little control of nature,” says Turteltaub.

“There are waves; there are not waves. One day it’s windy and raining, then it’s not windy and raining. But it’s so worth it, because you feel like you are out in the elements where you’re supposed to be for this story. It was exciting for everyone.”

Interior sets for The Meg were built at Auckland Film Studios west of the city, with gimbal mounts used to mimic the movement of the sea for scenes that took place on the ocean.

After production wrapped on The Meg, Screen Auckland’s parent organisation Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) took a long-term lease of the KFS site. Two new sound stages were opened in the facility in June.

“The legacy of multi-million-dollar facilities built by Warner Bros. for The Meg – particularly two world-class water tanks (a 1.3 million litre underwater tank and a 2.5 million litre for ‘ocean’ filming), and one of the largest green screen walls in the Asia-Pacific – helped the producers gain the New Zealand government’s 5% screen production grant uplift because the producers were able to deliver a range of significant economic benefits to New Zealand,” says Michael Brook, manager of Screen Auckland, in comments to KFTV.

New Zealand offers a base 20% cash grant as a filming incentive for big-budget productions shooting in the country. An additional 5% uplift is available for shoots that can show the “significant additional economic benefits” mentioned by Brook.

Kumeu Film Studios

Brook tells KFTV that there has been “strong ongoing demand” for the production facilities at KFS since The Meg wrapped. International interest from the US and China – The Meg was made with significant Chinese involvement – has been driven in part by the fact that the studios’ new sound stages are now the largest available in the Auckland area.

Features to have used KFS since The Meg have included ocean-set survival story Adrift.

“The studios also have another unique feature,” Brook tells KFTV, “A 12-hectare (30-acre) forested back lot with a range of ‘looks’ including pines, native temperate forest and streams – which enables major productions to do outdoor shoots without leaving the studio site.

“Obviously that is a big bonus for producers, cutting down on logistics and transport costs. The back lot is also sought-after for smaller one-off productions.”

New Zealand had an overall international production boost of 20% last year with 80% of its foreign revenue coming from US shoots. Wellington remains the country’s feature production hub but Auckland is beginning to catch up.

Major recent US productions have included Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time and key stunt work for Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in New Zealand.

KFS images courtesy of Kumeu Film Studios. The Meg image: Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. Ent Inc/RatPac-Dune Ent.

Editor's note (17/8/18): This article has been amended to clarify the name of the filtration system used at Kumeu Film Studios, which was initially incorrectly described as 'Ozone'.

The Meg producers helped set up NZ film studio
Kumeu Film Studios

The producers of giant shark movie The Meg helped set up a new production facility for the shoot near Auckland in New Zealand.

Directed by Jon Turteltaub, The Meg features action star Jason Statham in a story that pitches a group of marine experts against a giant prehistoric shark called a megalodon.

Having opted to film much of the production in New Zealand, Warner Bros and Gravity Pictures formed a partnership with local authorities to develop new water tank facilities on industrial land outside Auckland that would become Kumeu Film Studios (KFS).

During filming of The Meg, a specialist filtration system called 'Hydroxypure' was used to ensure the water in the tanks remained clear.

“It basically makes the water very neutral and very clear,” says David Murrell, a dive co-ordinator on the film. “One of the problems of filming in water is if it’s murky, you can’t clean it up.

“You can do a lot of things with visual effects, but if you can’t see it on camera in the first place, you can’t make it clearer. It’s very rare to have an exterior tank that warm and that well-filtrated, so it was a hell of a feat.”

Limited open-water filming also took place in the Hauraki Gulf to the east of Auckland. A 50-foot Technocrane was mounted in its own boat and a flotilla of support vessels was home to all the various supporting departments of the production.

The Meg

“Shooting out on the water is adventurous and fun, but you have so little control of nature,” says Turteltaub.

“There are waves; there are not waves. One day it’s windy and raining, then it’s not windy and raining. But it’s so worth it, because you feel like you are out in the elements where you’re supposed to be for this story. It was exciting for everyone.”

Interior sets for The Meg were built at Auckland Film Studios west of the city, with gimbal mounts used to mimic the movement of the sea for scenes that took place on the ocean.

After production wrapped on The Meg, Screen Auckland’s parent organisation Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) took a long-term lease of the KFS site. Two new sound stages were opened in the facility in June.

“The legacy of multi-million-dollar facilities built by Warner Bros. for The Meg – particularly two world-class water tanks (a 1.3 million litre underwater tank and a 2.5 million litre for ‘ocean’ filming), and one of the largest green screen walls in the Asia-Pacific – helped the producers gain the New Zealand government’s 5% screen production grant uplift because the producers were able to deliver a range of significant economic benefits to New Zealand,” says Michael Brook, manager of Screen Auckland, in comments to KFTV.

New Zealand offers a base 20% cash grant as a filming incentive for big-budget productions shooting in the country. An additional 5% uplift is available for shoots that can show the “significant additional economic benefits” mentioned by Brook.

Kumeu Film Studios

Brook tells KFTV that there has been “strong ongoing demand” for the production facilities at KFS since The Meg wrapped. International interest from the US and China – The Meg was made with significant Chinese involvement – has been driven in part by the fact that the studios’ new sound stages are now the largest available in the Auckland area.

Features to have used KFS since The Meg have included ocean-set survival story Adrift.

“The studios also have another unique feature,” Brook tells KFTV, “A 12-hectare (30-acre) forested back lot with a range of ‘looks’ including pines, native temperate forest and streams – which enables major productions to do outdoor shoots without leaving the studio site.

“Obviously that is a big bonus for producers, cutting down on logistics and transport costs. The back lot is also sought-after for smaller one-off productions.”

New Zealand had an overall international production boost of 20% last year with 80% of its foreign revenue coming from US shoots. Wellington remains the country’s feature production hub but Auckland is beginning to catch up.

Major recent US productions have included Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time and key stunt work for Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in New Zealand.

KFS images courtesy of Kumeu Film Studios. The Meg image: Daniel Smith/Warner Bros. Ent Inc/RatPac-Dune Ent.

Editor's note (17/8/18): This article has been amended to clarify the name of the filtration system used at Kumeu Film Studios, which was initially incorrectly described as 'Ozone'.

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