Applicants still hope for film studio funding

 Applicants for funding for a Dunedin film studio — a $17.7 million fitting-out of a warehouse in...
Applicants for funding for a Dunedin film studio — a $17.7 million fitting-out of a warehouse in Parry St — have not yet heard back from the Government. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The applicants for funding for two shovel-ready film studios in Otago are still anxiously waiting to hear back from the Government.

At the start of April, the Government put a call out for construction projects that were ready to go and needed only funding to begin.

In July, $2.6billion of the $3billion shovel-ready fund was allocated to 150 projects — but these did not include the film studios, put forward in Queenstown and Dunedin.

Speaking at a business dinner in Dunedin last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was coy on the shovel-ready applications from this region.

"My message would be: regardless of the success of some of those applications on shovel-ready projects ... there is an opportunity and I can assure you we are pursuing it hard," she said.

The people behind the applications are still hopeful.

"Some of the people who’ve made shovel-ready applications have been told they’re not being granted," Remarkables Park Ltd director Alastair Porter said.

His organisation is behind an application for funding for a film studio and conference centre in Queenstown.

"We don’t fall under the category of being told we are not under consideration."

He said he had been contacted by the Government for more information about his organisation’s application for funding.

"We understand shovel-ready applications are still being processed."

Queenstown "badly" needed a conference centre, Mr Porter said.

His application has received backing from Film Otago Southland chairman Brad Hurndell, who penned a letter of support to go with the application."As a region, we would love to see that capability added so that we can grow," Mr Hurndell said.

"Not only the region and its capabilities — right through from a training and development point of view as well — it would be a great asset for that."

Those behind the Dunedin film studio application — a $17.7 million fitting-out of a warehouse in Parry St — are still waiting to hear back from the Government.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the Parry St application was, along with "a number of projects", still waiting for an announcement.

"Obviously, there’s been other announcements around the country and as that funding reduces, you become less optimistic that yours might be on the list to be funded with this particular round."

He said the Dunedin City Council would still keep film as a priority and would work with local companies and the wider sector concerning what could be done at Parry St.

"For us it remains a very viable project and we’re hopeful that in some point in time we will get an announcement from Government as to whether or not they’ll support the idea of a studio.

"If it doesn’t [get government support], then we will look at other opportunities including ... getting as many companies in there to lease that space as we develop it up as a proposition."

A possible $12 million film studio near Gibbston is expected to go to the Queenstown Lakes District Council for resource consent later this year.

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