Motorsport venue could star in movie

By Lynda van Kempen

Highlands Motorsport Park. Photo / Simon Chapman
Highlands Motorsport Park. Photo / Simon Chapman

Central Otago is wooing a "massive" movie using Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell as a venue, starring up to two Hollywood A-listers.

If the deal was confirmed, it would have major benefits for the district, Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings told the Central Otago District Council today.

Highlands was proving to be advantageous to the film industry, Mr Jennings said. He visited it about five months ago with two location scouts and a montage of clips was being prepared using the park as a film venue.

There was a lot of interest in using roads for filming. It was expensive for production companies to close roads, but at Highlands a section of road could be hired for filming, with no need to worry about road closure processes.

Mr Jennings was updating the council on the film organisation's past financial year, as the council is one of the funders. It had budgeted $5000 for the organisation in the coming year.

There were 185 film productions shot in Otago and Southland in the past financial year and that figure included 83 television commercials and eight feature films, he said.

He anticipated strong growth in the film industry in Central Otago in the future.

"One of the key things is making it easy to shoot here."

The historic buildings and structures such as old suspension bridges were a drawcard.

Film tourism was worth about $3.1 million annually to the district, and that would continue to grow.

The baseball site made for the movie Field of Dreams n the United States attracted 300,000 visitors a year "who go there to throw a pitch", Mr Jennings said.

Film work also brought direct benefits to the region. When The Light Between Oceans was filmed, about $62,000 was spent just on accommodation.

Although the wider district lacked studio space, Central Otago's coolstores could double as studios in the off-season, so that was an advantage.

For a "remote area", this district housed probably $8 million to $10 million worth of equipment, Mr Jenning said.

The "cutting edge" equipment meant filming could be carried out in all conditions, from a "Poolburn wind storm" through to snowy weather, he said.

- Otago Daily Times

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