Filming 'increasingly fraught'

Julian Grimmond
Julian Grimmond
Filming on conservation land is becoming so difficult that some parts of The Lord of Rings movies would not be able to be filmed if they were being made today, Film New Zealand chairman Julian Grimmond says.

Speaking at the Inland Otago Conservation Awards this week, Mr Grimmond said it was becoming "increasingly fraught" to get access to film on conservation land.

Recent national park management plans and other Department of Conservation strategies often ignored the economic benefits of the screen-production industry, he said.

They also ignored the transient and manageable nature of filming.

"The film industry is important to New Zealand because of its high growth potential and its ability to drive growth in other industries, such as tourism.

"New Zealanders are rightly proud of our young wine industry, yet our film industry generates the same amount of revenue for the country," Mr Grimmond said.

Film New Zealand is this country's film location office and it provides information and support to national and international film crews.

"Conservationists and the film industry have many interests in common; retaining our pristine natural environment is a vital part of New Zealand's appeal as a location of choice for international filmmakers.

"Filming is not like opencast mining or building an oil rig. The activity is infrequent, diverse and with a low impact on its surroundings, and all impacts can be mitigated," Mr Grimmond said.

After Mr Grimmond's address, Doc Otago conservator Marian van der Goes agreed the two groups had a "huge amount in common and values in common".

"Clearly though, we are charged with looking after public conservation land for all New Zealanders and to cater for a huge range of demands that are different," Ms van der Goes said.

It was natural to have some "robust debate" about how that was managed and it was good to hear the views of the film industry.

Film NZ had an annual "summit" meeting with Doc staff in Queenstown, Mr Grimmond said.

The film industry was probably the single largest promoter of the conservation estate and its values to New Zealanders and international audiences.

"We believe that filming activity is more closely aligned with Doc's objectives than most other commercial activities undertaken on conservation lands.

"The film industry and New Zealand's robust conservation movement both have similar goals. As New Zealanders, we all cherish our country's iconic landscapes. Isn't it time we worked together?"

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