Hollywood eyes on Otago Peninsula

Could Otago Peninsula be a location for a new Hollywood blockbuster? Dreamworks Studios staff have been seen on the peninsula, allegedly scouting locations for the film The Light Between Oceans, but the company is keeping quiet. The Star's JONATHAN CHILTON-TOWLE reports.

A major Hollywood film company is about to start filming its latest picture in Otago and The Star understands the Otago Peninsula may be one of the filming locations.

Based on a bestselling novel by M. L Stedman, The Light Between Oceans is set on a remote island off Australia and tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who decide to raise an infant they discover washed ashore in a boat with a dead man.

Taiaroa Head operations manager Hoani Langsbury said Dreamworks Studios staff had been looking at several locations on the peninsula but he would not reveal where.

He denied location scouts had been looking at the Taiaroa Head lighthouse as a potential location for the film.

''If they have looked at the Taiaroa Head lighthouse, it wasn't while I was there,'' Mr Langsbury said.

Enterprise Dunedin public relations and communications manager Sharon O'Loughlin said she was unable to assist with any information, and referred The Star to an official press release from Film New Zealand.

A Dreamworks Studios spokeswoman would not answer questions about whether filming was going ahead on Otago Peninsula and also referred The Star to the press statement.

On August 12, Dreamworks Studios' announced The Light Between Oceans would begin filming in New Zealand and Australia next month.

According to the release, ''production on the film will begin at the end of September and will include several weeks of filming in the Marlborough and Otago regions of New Zealand, as well as a week on the Australian island of Tasmania''.

The film is to star Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz and will be be directed by Derek Cianfrance, who also wrote the script.

Heyday Films' David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford are producing the film.

Dreamworks Studios president of production Holly Bario thanked Film New Zealand for its assistance in helping bring the film to New Zealand.

''It was important to find the perfect locations to help fulfil our director's vision for the film and we couldn't be more excited to be filming in both New Zealand and Australia,'' she said.

Film New Zealand chief executive Gisella Carr was delighted to welcome Dreamworks Studios back under the new New Zealand screen incentives, and to see the production working in centres across the South Island.

''The production coming here is the result of successful collaboration between a range of agencies including Marlborough District Council, Film Otago Southland and Film New Zealand working together with the producers,'' she said.

Film Otago Southland chief executive Kevin Jennings said his group had helped get the film to Otago but ''it wasn't his story to tell''.

Exciting news

That's exciting news for Dunedin! Hopefully it'll be a coup for associated jobs in Otago. Although it all depends on the outcome of the election, as the Greens and Labour have an anti-Hollywood policy in accordance with their alliance with the unions. It would be such a shame if politics destroyed the burgeoning film and production industry in New Zealand. It's created so many opportunities and jobs for thousands of kiwis. 

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