9 Jan 2015

Surge in activity for film and TV business

8:19 am on 9 January 2015

The film and television business is experiencing a surge in activity, with plenty of work to go around.

film crew clapperboard

Photo: AFP / DPA

MTV Networks and Sonar Entertainment confirmed yesterday that they will base production of a TV series adaptation of Shannara, a fantasy adventure book, in Auckland.

This already follows the Power Rangers series, and major New Zealand production The Patriarch, a joint collaboration by Lee Tamahori and Robin Scholes, planned for this year.

"It's fair to say that most of the facilities in Auckland at the moment are fully utilised for the foreseeable future, and so as a result of that that's stimulating our interest in looking at how we potentially access new infrastructure," Chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Brett O'Riley said.

Only a couple of months ago, Disney also announced production of Pete's Dragon would be based in Wellington's Stone Street Studios, creating up to 800 jobs.

Chief executive of South Pacific Pictures Kelly Martin agreed that the industry was strong at the moment.

"There is work to be had. If you are working in film and television in 2015, you shouldn't be struggling to find work."

Most of the credit was being given to Government incentives introduced in April last year, and there was hope the momentum would not falter.

Both Ms Martin and Mr O'Reily said new uncapped Government incentives have had a huge impact.

Since April last year, international productions made locally could get a rebate of 20 per cent, up from 15 per cent, with a further five per cent available where productions can demonstrate significant economic benefits.

New Zealand television productions can get up to 40 per cent, up from 20 per cent - a figure that Ms Martin said makes the country much more appealing for co-productions as well.

"At the beginning of last year, people were wondering how they were going to fill their days and people were leaving the industry because there wasn't enough work," she said.

"Now we are struggling to find enough people to do the work coming in."

Chief executive of Film New Zealand, which markets and promotes New Zealand's screen production industry, Gisella Carr said the country's talent and quality of output also played a part in attracting business.

"There is a range of competition for us, but at the moment we seem to be holding our own," she said.

"And if over the next two years we see outstanding productions coming out of New Zealand, which we will do, it's the best possible advertisement for the industry."

China was believed to be a growing player for the industry, with New Zealand already having a co-production treaty with the country.

Chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission Dave Gibson, last month took a delegation of 22 to China, and he predicts it will have a bigger box office than the US in the future.

As for the domestic films, Mr Gibson, said there had been a huge increase of private funds injected over the past 12 months.

"What we're finding with the discretionary income that the Film Commission puts into films is, we are able to put a little less into each film and what we're hoping is ... we'll get to make more films."

Mr Gibson said he was optimistic the screen industry would gain enough stability to even out the peaks and troughs of the past.

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