Spotlight on film studios out west

By Colin Taylor

Land, buildings and business are being marketed for sale as one package.

View of dramatic filming inside a Studio West studio building in Glen Eden. Photo / Supplied
View of dramatic filming inside a Studio West studio building in Glen Eden. Photo / Supplied

The property and business comprising West Auckland's well-known film company Studio West in Glen Eden has been placed on the market for sale by Bayleys Auckland as a freehold property and business going concern.

Big Hollywood names like Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Colombia Tri-Star, Village Roadshow and Disney are among the international film studios that have subcontracted space and movie-making facilities at Studio West since the late 1990s.

Movies shot on site include Yogi Bear 3D and a catalogue of Disney TV films, along with New Zealand movies and TV series such as Hercules, Xena, Street Legal, and The Weakest Link.

The film studio occupies a big semi-industrial warehouse-style complex sitting on around 3.15 hectares of land over two adjoining titles in Glen Eden and incorporates a raft of large warehouse-style buildings that have been converted into sound stages, offices and workshops.

Bayleys salesman Paul Dixon says the Studio West land, buildings and business are being marketed for sale as one package by private treaty with a closing date of Thursday, June 27.

"New Zealand now has a global reputation for being a high quality, technology-driven film-making location - with Studio West firmly entrenched in that market. About 70 per cent of New Zealand films are shot in the Auckland region," Dixon says.

Action series Power Rangers has tenanted Studio West for a majority of the time since 2003, and currently occupies some 95 per cent of the facility with the remainder of the buildings occupied by numerous individuals and smaller companies.

The Power Rangers serial has been screening on television in Japan for 38 years, and in America for 20 years. Disney moved production of the series to Studio West in 2003. The show airs 17 times a week in the United States and is now broadcast in 140 countries around the world.

Power Rangers Productions Ltd currently has a year-to-year lease on the premises at 16 Waikaukau Rd, Glen Eden, generating annual revenue of $816,850 plus GST.

Dixon says the Studio West movie-making complex comprises a number of large buildings used as administrative and staff amenity offices, filming stages, art department, wardrobing, film props, carpentry workshops and an employee canteen. Studio West has a total of 5395sq m of indoor floor space - including 1513sq m of studios.

The studios and workshop building incorporate:

Three individual studios of 288sq m, 525sq m and 700sq m;

A 175sq m make-up and hairdressing suite with adjoining manager's office and apartment;

Production offices encompassing 465sq m and;

Four individual workshops of 100sq m, 470sq m, 515sq m and 810sq m..

Dixon says the two adjoining properties which make up the Studio West film complex have a combined July 2012 council valuation of $4,625,000.

"With a firm foothold and reputation now in the Hollywood cinema graphic market, Studio West has the opportunity to develop its service network into the equally substantial film-making markets of China and into India's Bollywood movie-making empire," he says. "The China Film Co-production Corporation, for example, has just this year been seeking business proposals from New Zealand film-makers to pitch their projects - with the final round of presentations taking place at the Beijing International Film Festival in April.

"The New Zealand Government, through its production incentive tax packages formulated with Warner Bros to support filming of The Hobbit, has taken a strong role in underpinning film production as a revenue source for the New Zealand economy. As a highly technical and knowledge-based skill set, film making is one sector which can drive New Zealand to becoming a high wage economy."

In addition to Government support for the Kiwi film-making industry, the Auckland Council was also throwing financial resources behind commercial enterprises such as Studio West, Dixon says. Networking between Chinese film-makers and the movie-making industry in Auckland has been co-ordinated by Film Auckland - part of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.

Film Auckland manager Michael Brook says there is a lot of interest in co-producing films, "which is exciting for both countries".

Studio West is one of the four big players in New Zealand's movie and TV film-making industry. The other three companies are South Pacific Pictures which produces the long-running Shortland Street series; Auckland Film Studios; and Peter Jackson's Stone Street Studios in Wellington.

Dixon says the studio buildings at Studio West are fully lined with sound-proofing insulation, and feature three-phase power supply, lighting grids, air ventilation ducting and extraction systems. The studios can be reconfigured to support audience viewing and participation formats.

The different sized workshops are designed to contain woodworking equipment as well as large-scale painting facilities - all under high stud beams which enable scaffolding structures to be built around specific set projects.

Studio West is jointly owned by three business partners with long careers in the film industry: production designer Ralph Davies; film set construction manager Murray Sweetman; and film production accountant and financial controller David Rowell.

"Within the land envelope at the Glen Eden complex there are two bare spaces which have been identified for future construction.

"Even larger studios could potentially be developed on the vacant land area or it could be converted into sections for residential dwellings," Dixon says.

"Expansion of the business along these lines would support the future growth of services available at Studio West, and would enable multiple simultaneous use of the amenities so that several productions could be undertaken on the site at the same time."

- NZ Herald

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