Wakatipu on a roll with ads, movies

A Queenstown film crew at work in Arrowtown last winter on a national television commercial for Hellers. Filming activity is intensifying this summer. Photo by ruff.co.nz
A Queenstown film crew at work in Arrowtown last winter on a national television commercial for Hellers. Filming activity is intensifying this summer. Photo by ruff.co.nz
Southern film-makers are enjoying a lucrative summer.

More than a dozen ''large-scale'' commercials for major brands have been produced for global television since November and more are scheduled before the end of the season.

Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings, of Queenstown, said many projects were repeat business.

''They like coming here because of the crew, the infrastructure and the equipment based here,'' he said yesterday.

''... they just bring their ideas and we've got the tools to create the production.''

Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings
Brand names could not be revealed because of commercial confidentiality, but advertisements for soft drinks, cameras, food products, computers, vehicles and clothing were shot in the Wakatipu.

The commercials were destined for broadcast in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan and China.

The film and television commercial industry was proving itself to be ''a strong economic driver for the region'', with crew spending spread around the accommodation, hospitality and entertainment sectors.

Statistics New Zealand's annual screen industry survey showed $29 million was spent on production and post-production in Otago and Southland in the 2011 financial year, Mr Jennings said.

The survey showed $35 million was spent in the 2010 financial year. The 2012 figure was expected to be boosted by the benefits of The Hobbit, Top of the Lake and Walking with Dinosaurs, which were shot in the Wakatipu last year.

Commercials and feature films supported the employment of 120 mobile film and television crew members based in Queenstown. There are 232 names and businesses on the Film Otago Southland industry database.

''For the same reason Queenstown is a Mecca for tourists, the clients and agencies love coming back here, even though they've got a lot of options to go elsewhere in the world,'' Mr Jennings said.

Asked if a custom-made film and television studio in the Wakatipu would encourage more business, he said ''yes''.

''With the television commercial market and certainly for feature films, it would be a fantastic asset to be able to offer.''

- james.beech@odt.co.nz