15 Aug 2021

Lord of the Rings shift to UK could see skilled workers leave NZ

7:33 pm on 15 August 2021

The film industry fears skilled workers will go overseas after it was confirmed this week that further seasons of Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series will be made in the UK.

No caption

Photo: Supplied

Filming has now wrapped and Amazon Studios has told the government post-production work on season one will continue here until June 2022, but season two was now heading overseas.

The government has said it will no longer proceed with part of the deal to support the series, following the decision

Thousands of people were employed directly and indirectly on season one of the series.

The first image from Amazon's new Lord of the Rings TV series filmed in New Zealand.

The first image from Amazon's new Lord of the Rings TV series filmed in New Zealand. Photo: Supplied / Amazon

Screen Industry Guild president Brendon Durey told Standing Room Only that the simple fact was that New Zealand was a minnow in the international film sector and there was a good chance those kiwi workers will be siphoned overseas when production leaves this country.

"I know that the UK has had a voracious appetite for people in my area, that is the special effects industry. And for a while I was training guys, then we'd hit a lull in New Zealand and they'd go over there for an OE, and they'd get jobs and they don't come back."

He said the most pressing problem for the industry was a "MIQ-inspired coma", saying a huge hurdle for attracting new overseas productions was the lack of available space in managed isolation.

"There has been a bunch of work that has been unable to come in and fill that gap because of the inefficiencies and difficulties of the MIQ situation. So in the short term, the rich vein of form the industry has is going to hit the doldrums because of MIQ, like a lot of other industries."

He said bringing in a small number of people can unlock an enormous amount of economic activity.

The production of Lord of the Rings was suspended for two weeks in mid-March 2020, with about 800 cast and crew members told not to report to the set or the production studio, according to the NZ Herald. Production resumed again in September that year.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs