The unique and beautiful coastal and rural landscapes of Auckland’s Franklin region are increasingly making their way on to television and big screens around New Zealand and the world, thanks to growing interest from film producers – and the cooperation of local communities.

TV3’s six-part crime drama The Gulf features locations such as Kawakawa Bay, Waiti Bay Reserve, and Magazine Bay where the production shot in October and November last year. The show – produced by Screentime and Lippy Pictures – hit TV screens hot on the heels of TVNZ’s moody thriller The Bad Seed, which shot some scenes in Karaka in May and June last year.

While Auckland’s west and central city have historically been the mainstay of Auckland’s on-location filming, Franklin is now firmly on the screen industry’s map. In the year to June, 24 Auckland Council public space film permits were issued in the Franklin Local Board area – totaling 36 shooting days; the biggest production involved more than 200 people on site, while most had between 20 and 70 crew. 

Franklin also starred in the Grand Designs NZ 2019 launch campaign shoot, and a range of television commercials filmed in the past year for companies including Holden, Subaru, Mercury, NZ Post, Asahi, Hirepool, and BP; and diverse commercial product photo shoots.

But it hasn’t just been small screen productions showcasing Franklin – a major Hollywood producer filmed scenes for a feature film at Hunua, and the feature film Only Cloud Knows shot on location at the petrol station in Kawakawa Bay, Ness Valley Rd in Clevedon, and the Orere-Matingarahi Rd. In 2016, a Warner Bros./Gravity Pictures unit filmed on-water scenes from The Meg at Waitawa Regional Park – with the movie going on to be a global box office hit in 2018.

The Gulf cast
IMAGE: The cast of The Gulf, Courtesy Screentime and Lippy Productions

Screen Auckland, the team at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) works with Franklin Local Board, and Council units including Parks and Auckland Transport (on behalf of NZTA) to process and issue public space film permits.

Jasmine Millet, Manager Screen Auckland, says: “It’s been great to see Franklin emerge as a bona fide screen production destination in Auckland. The word is out in the industry about the area’s unique landscapes, beaches and relatively quiet coastal roads. I’m sure some people who see the region on screen will be inspired to visit for themselves.

“Our job is to work with Franklin Local Board to ensure the Council permit conditions strike the right balance between communities’ needs as filming takes place around them, and Council’s support for a hugely important industry for our region.”

In the 2018/19 year, 617 permits were issued across Auckland – just shy of the annual record – and Statistics NZ data shows Auckland’s thriving production and post-production industry again earned more than a billion dollars in gross revenue. 

Under Council’s permit fee system, Screen Auckland gave back to Franklin Local Board nearly $3000 from the fees charged in the area during 2018/19. The fee Council charges for a shoot varies based on its size and impact.

Franklin Local Board chair Angela Fulljames says: “Franklin Local Board are excited about the potential for screen production as a contributor to local economic activity in our region. We have a diversity of environments that make us an attractive location to work in, and we are pleased to welcome productions. Recognising ourselves and our special places on screen is also bit of a thrill and generates local pride in Franklin."

Screen production in Auckland directly supports more than 1600 companies and 3500 jobs. It also has a ‘halo’ effect, boosting business for a range of support industries. In most cases, productions and crews spend directly into the communities where filming takes place, from local caterers to building supplies merchants.

In the past year, Council permits have been issued for a diverse range of Franklin locations including Omana, Hunua, Duder and Tapapakanga regional parks, Maraetai Wharf, Kariotahi Beach on the west coast, Clevedon shops, Karaka, and Awhitu Peninsula.

Jasmine Millet says: “Council appreciates the cooperation of residents who may be briefly affected by short-term road closures, or sections of parks being closed off, when scenes are being shot. The industry is growing rapidly in our region, bringing exciting job opportunities, hundreds of millions in international investment, and exposure that will benefit all of us.”