Tauranga going Hollywood

A proposal to attract northern hemisphere movie television and internet productions to the Bay of Plenty is being endorsed by the Tauranga City Council.

The council Economic Development and Investment Committee is recommending to today's council meeting that it approve the Bay of Plenty Film Trust's request for $75,000 for three years, to establish a BOP regional film industry office.

Priority One CEO Nigel Tutt told committee members it's a small investment for a potentially large return.

What will happen is the decision will be by an internal staff submission via the Annual Plan process, which is already underway.

If it's approved, Priority One will administer the $75,000, which is to be raised by a levy on the commercial rate.

“What they will also do before that happens is they will get feedback from the business community,” says committee chair Max Mason after the meeting.

“They will put that together which will come to the annual plan process. The reason they are doing that is this will be a targeted rate so we will be increasing the commercial rate by $75,000.

It's estimated the $75,000 works out to about $3.40 per business with assets of $250,000 – a typical small business.

“Which is I have to say a very small layout for what could be a very good return to the business community,” says Max.

The council endorsement means Bay of Plenty Film Trust trustees Anton Steel and Kylie DellaBarca Steel can continue plans to attend the Association of Film Commissioners International, Locations, Global Productions and Finance Conference in Los Angeles. 

Councillors were shown the video prepared for the event, show casing the Bay of Plenty region as a location destination.

Part of the plan is to use the kiwifruit industry's idle summer storage spaces as pop-up studios.

Auckland and Wellington have insufficient production and facilitation capacity to accommodate the scale of demand from international film production companies – which represents a significant untapped economic growth opportunity for Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.

The New Zealand screen media industry is currently worth $3 billion each year. The North Island, outside of Auckland and Wellington, currently accounts for only one per cent of that.

Auckland Film Studios are booked out until 2018, Wellington's Stone Street Studios are pencil booked until 2020. Last year NZ lost two $100 million productions because of the lack of available studio space.

While kiwifruit cool stores are used during the 6-9 month packing season, Anton Steel says they are empty for 3-6 months a year - the same three to six months that overseas productions look to base themselves in New Zealand to take advantage of the southern hemisphere summer  during the northern hemisphere winter.