Film industry stretching into bigger stride

English actress Imogen Poots will star in a a remake of a 1974 cult horror film Black Christmas,...
English actress Imogen Poots will star in a a remake of a 1974 cult horror film Black Christmas, set to be filmed at locations in Dunedin including amid the Gothic Revival architecture of the University of Otago campus and North Otago. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The arrival of a Hollywood production company in Dunedin is the first sign the city's film industry is entering a new phase, the city's film co-ordinator says.

After it was first reported in the Otago Daily Times earlier this week, it was officially announced yesterday that filming on the horror movie Black Christmas is set to start in the city and parts of North Otago.

American film and television production company Blumhouse Productions is producing the film and it will be released in December by major film studio Universal Pictures.

Film Dunedin's Antony Deaker said it was a significant announcement, not just for the city but also New Zealand's film industry.

"It's the first time Blumhouse have come to New Zealand and they seem like a really good fit for a city like Dunedin. By Hollywood standards they do small-budget films but are of a very high quality."

Crew working on the film had been in the city since May and would remain until August, which gave an idea to the scale of the production, he said.

The movie was just the first of what could be a stream of domestic and international productions using the city.

"Optimistically I would say the city is entering a new phase, with Black Christmas as the first visible sign of that."

Casting for another New Zealand feature film being shot in Dunedin took place last month and filming would start in September.

There were several other companies seriously looking at the city, including five internationally significant television and film projects, Mr Deaker said.

In the past two years there had been 77 film permits issued by the Dunedin City Council and from March 2018 to March 2019 there were more than 6400 bed nights connected to the city's film industry, he said.

Candy Cane Productions location manager Phil Turner said Dunedin offered a great range of locations and the crew were loving working in the city.

Where possible, local crew were employed and students from the university's media, film and communications department would intern on the production, Mr Turner said.

Also, 75 students had been cast to appear as extras. Production executives would give public and classroom lectures.

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