Filming offers employment opportunities

Egyptian-born Canadian actor Mena Massoud on the set during filming of Disney’s Aladdin in 2019....
Egyptian-born Canadian actor Mena Massoud on the set during filming of Disney’s Aladdin in 2019. PHOTO: DISNEY
More than 60 people from around Dunedin and the wider South Island are being employed by Netflix for its latest production, The Royal Treatment, which is to begin filming in Dunedin later this month.

An Immigration New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed the department had approved only eight border exceptions under the "other critical worker" category, for overseas people to work on the film.

They included the two leading actors, American actress and singer Laura Marano (Austin & Ally, The Perfect Date) and Egyptian-born Canadian actor and GQ cover star Mena Massoud, who achieved worldwide fame in Disney’s Aladdin, in 2019.

Enterprise Dunedin film office co-ordinator Antony Deaker said they were in addition to the 135 full-time crew on the project.

"All of the crew are New Zealand, and of the 135 full-time crew, 65 are Dunedin and South Island people.

"There are 30 roles for New Zealand actors, plus 1000 days for local extras."

He said the numbers supplied by the production company were "remarkable".

"It shows a tiny number of people coming through managed isolation and quarantine, have enabled significant employment and economic outcomes."

It would greatly benefit the region’s accommodation and hospitality providers, rental and hire companies and suppliers of materials and catering.

"It also shows the capacity of the country, and in particular a region like Dunedin outside the main screen production hubs of Auckland and Wellington, to service international productions almost entirely with domestic crew and talent."

Mr Deaker said the Dunedin City Council had not yet received any applications for locations permits or road closures, but a number of locations were being considered in and around the city.

"None are confirmed. It’s probably premature to discuss locations as this is still in flux."

The romance is about Isabella (Marano) who runs her own hair salon and has no trouble speaking her mind; and Prince Thomas (Massoud) who runs his own country and is about to marry for duty, rather than love.

Isabella gets a golden opportunity to do the prince’s hair for his arranged royal marriage, and somewhere in between, the two fall in love.

It was written by Holly Heist and will be directed by Rick Jacobson.

The Otago region now has three confirmed major film and television projects in production at the same time — Under The Vines, One Lane Bridge and The Royal Treatment.

 - john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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