Jasmine Millet, Manager Screen Auckland looks back over another year like no other.
Well, that was quite a year. No one denies that times have been tough in Tāmaki Makaurau in recent months but the sector has shown impressive resilience, and that’s thanks to screen people pulling together to support each other and produce great work.
Reasons to be optimistic? There are plenty.
The industry delivered a huge amount of high-calibre content over the last year as Auckland played host to more international and local features, series and commercials at once than ever before. Some have already screened: the internationally recognised The Panthers; en pointe plague series Creamerie; Netflix’s Sweet Tooth; The Justice of Bunny King, featuring a so-hot-right-now Thomasin McKenzie and The Power of the Dog, the latest from national treasure Dame Jane Campion. Others we look forward to seeing in 2022 include Blumhouse Pictures’ M3GAN; Evil Dead Rise, produced by Xena’s Robert Tapert ONZM; the important stories of Aotearoa told in Whina and Muru. And we’re full of anticipation for renewed series of Mystic, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Power Rangers and more.
Even our long white clouds have silver linings. Season one of The Lord of the Rings wrapped and we said farewell to the production. Nobody wanted the show to leave Auckland but it has created an opportunity for others, with studios available in 2022, and an enlarged crew base with greater skill and experience than ever before.
With MIQ requirements easing, and money in the kete from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage via the New Zealand Film Commission, NZOnAir and Te Māngai Pāho, there’s much to be excited and energised by.
As we were preparing for the move from lockdown and a return to filming, however, we learnt of two things that will affect some of us in the industry. First was the addition of new locations to Sites and Places of Significance to Mana Whenua identified in the Auckland Council Unitary Plan and confirmation that temporary activities were within scope. Then, last week, the Government announced a review of the way it funds the screen sector.
We’re still digesting the implications of the review but welcome the stated focus on a sustainable, resilient and productive sector. We’re pleased that the Government has promised those within the sector the opportunity to make submissions, and I urge all of you to do so when the time comes. Screen Auckland will, of course, continue to advocate on behalf of the region’s screen sector.
The additions to the sites and places of significance will more Immediately affect some within the industry; obtaining permission to film in these areas requires greater time and cost.
Screen Auckland supports the aims of mana whenua in protecting and preserving places of importance. We understand, though, the concerns of the screen industry, and we are committed to making a platform for engagement and navigating the changes together. As a result, we have already held the first of a series of locations roundtables with representatives from across industry and Council’s heritage team - thank you to those who found the time to take part.
The talks have so far given people within the industry the most up-to-date information available and an opportunity to express their worries - often with robust and refreshing honesty. Additionally, we have outlined a range of options for support that Screen Auckland could provide, and we are in the process of collecting feedback about industry priorities.
Thank you to everyone who has worked with Screen Auckland over the past year; we appreciate your efforts in bringing so many successful projects, events and productions to life.
Working in partnership keeps Auckland on the map and open for screen business. And if we can achieve all we have together in the most challenging of times, I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store.
The year in numbers
- PERMITTED 1190 film applications permitted (July 2020-June 2021) - an increase of 85.9 percent over the preceding 12-month period.
- EMPLOYED 7500 people working in the industry.
- CASHED-UP $300 million - combined budget of international screen projects facilitated by Screen Auckland, not including The Lord of the Rings.
- SCARFIED 113 student films supported.
The year in screen highlights
- LAUNCHED Sweet Tooth arrived on Netflix in June, soaring to number one in 83 countries as audiences warmed to the series. The long list of photogenic locations inspired Aucklanders to become tourists in their own town. The show has been commissioned for a second series, with pre-production well underway!
- RELOCATED My Life is Murder sailed from Melbourne to Auckland. The show, starring Lucy Lawless, featured Wynyard Quarter, the glittering waters of the Waitematā, and the streets, maunga, shops and homesteads of Tāmaki Makaurau. The show also navigated a CBD undergoing a facelift on Quay St, major infrastructure projects such as the City Rail Link, and the America’s Cup (go Kiwi!) - all with aplomb.
- SHOWCASED Cowboy Bebop was the first high-end TV series to showcase Auckland’s central city as a backdrop. It too overcame infrastructure juggernauts, COVID-19 and an America’s Cup hosting to complete season 1 and appear on Netflix in November 2021. While it’s disappointing a second season won’t go ahead, Netflix praised Tāmaki Makaurau crews, studios and locations and shared its commitment to producing content in New Zealand.
- WRAPPED The Lord Of The Rings Season 1 was the largest production the region has ever hosted. Throw in a pandemic and a simultaneous restart to all production in the last quarter of 2020 and the achievement is even more remarkable. Thanks for the good times, Amazon (and JRR).
Congratulations to the numerous people who made these shows possible.
The year in engagement
- PUBLISHED Screen careers perceptions research was published in June and shared with industry, partners and stakeholders. The research helps to identify issues and opportunities for growing a skilled screen workforce in years ahead, and is designed to summarise the way those working in screen and aligned industries view the sector and its career pathways.
- PURIFIED Screen Sector Emissions Study, produced in partnership with Arup and featuring input from across the industry, maps a path for a sustainable screen sector - meaning that everyone can breathe a little easier about the future.
- COLLABORATED Yoobee Colleges Memorandum of Understanding helps foster the upskilling and long-term partnership between the film office and the next generation of production teams. It is the first Screen Auckland partnership with a local tertiary provider in the screen sector.
- APPED FilmApp launch You asked, we listened, and as a result, Auckland now has its own screen industry-specific online, end-to-end permitting tool. It’s a simpler, smarter way of handling filming applications and we’re over the moon that it helps to make industry’s life a bit easier. Shout-out to Screen Wellington, which also launched FilmApp this year and shared its experiences with our team.
- LOCATED Auckland location gallery relaunch The gallery lets private and public landowners across the region showcase their locations with screen production clients here and around the world; 200 locations, with images, are already online.
- SPONSORED Share the Knowledge training for location managers and coordinators; Strength in Numbers, run by Script to Screen and focusing on sustainable business; and the inaugural Screen Publicists Training. All of these industry training courses aim to fill key skills gaps, and we’re proud to have lent support
- CONTINUED While the pandemic had other plans for Screen Auckland’s skills and talent development programme, industry liaison Marg Slater continued to build on this work with the Ministry of Social Development. Over 16 months, the Screen Skills Workshops pilot programme placed 104 of 135 participants in contracts for film production crew roles.
Thanks to all the partners, industry members and stakeholders who contributed to these initiatives.
The year in spaces and places
- CO-LOCATED Click Creative Tech Studios opened its second co-working space to house creative tech entrepreneurs, artists, game developers, programmers, filmmakers and more. The aim is to develop a hub where tech companies and individuals can up-skill and become internationally focused while connecting and learning from each other. Nice.
- INVESTED $35m in funding from local and central government to keep Auckland’s screen industry booming (ahem), through the development of two new sound stages, offices and other improvements at Auckland Film Studios - stages are underway. Studio West is expanding and X3 and Kumeu Film Studios are looking good too.
Check out this fantastic line-up of content from 2021
TVNZ On Demand
- Brokenwood Mysteries season 7
- My Life is Murder
- A Love Yarn
- Head High
- Cowboy Bebop
- The Power of the Dog
- Sweet Tooth
- Power Rangers
Amazon Prime Video
- The Wilds