The Large Budget Screen Production Grant is New Zealand’s most significant incentive, offering a 12.5% rebate on Kiwi production spending of more than NZ$15 million ($9.8 million). Projects spending less than $32.8 million are required to spend at least 70% of total budgets in New Zealand.
The initiative is aimed squarely at attracting Hollywood film and TV productions, and has been accessed by Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” for Universal and Walden Media’s “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
The $9.8 million threshold is too high for locals on limited budgets, but producers are hoping it will be changed soon to allow bundling of smaller budget fare such as made-for-TV movies.
The other main film incentive is the NZ Film Production Fund aimed at New Zealand stories budgeted at $3.3 million-$13.1 million
Though independent when it was formed in 2000, the NZ Film Commission is taking over most of the fund’s functions and some rule changes look likely.
The one-off fund requires 40% funding from outside government sources, and has been useful for international co-productions.
In television, the biggest funder is government-appointed New Zealand on Air, which spends $39.3 million on television each year. Projects need backing from a local broadcaster and must reflect Kiwi culture and identity. New Zealand offers tax incentives for local productions. But producers complain they are used so seldomly that they attract excessive time-consuming scrutiny from the Inland Revenue Dept.
- Film New Zealand: Web: filmnz.com (offers practical advice for anybody filming in New Zealand); Email: info@filmnz. org.nz; Contact: chief executive Judith McCann
- New Zealand Film Commission: Web: nzfilm.co.nz; Email: email@example.com; Contact: chief executive Ruth Harley.
A new 2,000-square-meter (21,527-square-foot) soundstage is being built at the Henderson Valley studios, located 30 minutes west of central Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand, but near the Waitakere wilderness area that hosts much of the filming activity. The new facility, including production offices, is planned to be up and running by August 2007, and local government owners are already actively marketing it. Local industry mavens are hoping the purpose-built studio will counter New Zealand’s rep for “tin-shed” facilities. The new studio will rise 49 feet to the lighting grid, similar to the Camperdown studios in Wellington owned by Peter Jackson interests and opened in 2003.