Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Bay's own film office has 'huge potential', proposes film society

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BOP Film's strategic presentation by Sir Bob Harvey (left), Philippa Mossman, Kylie DellaBarca  Steel and Anton Steel. Photo / Andrew Warner
BOP Film's strategic presentation by Sir Bob Harvey (left), Philippa Mossman, Kylie DellaBarca Steel and Anton Steel. Photo / Andrew Warner

The Bay could be the backdrop for a television soap opera or an international movie if a plan to grow the film and television industry in the Bay wins support, industry experts say.

The idea of establishing a film office in the region was pitched to Bay of Plenty councillors, investors and local film contributors yesterday.

The office would showcase the area as a filming location to national and international film-makers.

Kylie DellaBarca Steel, who produced the Te Puke film The Z-Nail Gang, outlined the estimated costs as $180,000 per year, not including the initial development.

On top of that, the brand development was estimated to be $72,000, which included the establishment of a $30,000 showreel of the area and a website.

Tauranga City councillor Matt Cowley said despite the creation of a film office having "huge potential" for the region, risks would need to be identified before the council could invest.

"We've got a lot of infrastructure to get it moving ... but we need to look at a bigger model."

He said the concept would be worth investigating but community input would be essential.

"Like the operation costs of this, versus a sports stadium. The community needs to do trade-offs - they need to think about it."

Te Puke Economic Development Group chairman Mark Boyle said a film office would bring economic benefits.

"It's a multimillion-dollar economic development for the Bay of Plenty.

"We are coastal, we have the Rotorua lakes, access to the volcanic plateau ... It's about selling those unique benefits internationally."

He expected the Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Whakatane councils would get behind the idea.

Mr Boyle thought the upcoming elections could help the project get started.

"The election timing is perfect. Aspiring politicians who see the value of this would probably be keen to support the initiative now rather than later."

Bay of Plenty Film president Anton Steel said the Bay was the only region in New Zealand without a film office, which was limiting filming potential to an area which already had "the people, the location and the infrastructure".

"We really need to be part of this," he said. "It's a great location, it would give our screens a breath of fresh air."

He said the area was "super marketable" as it was close to the beach, lakes and forest, and had potential to use kiwifruit packing sheds in the off-seasons as studio space.

International Screen Attraction boss Philippa Mossman, a former Pikowai local of the NZ Film Commission, said she was looking forward to having contact in the region.

"The prospect of the right infrastructure is extremely exciting," she said.
Auckland Film Studio visionary Sir Bob Harvey spoke about the "possibilities which are now probabilities".

"There is no reason you can't start small, I think we should just go and do it."

He suggested the Bay could start with a show similar to Home and Away or Shortland Street. "I'm wildly enthusiastic about the possibilities."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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