Film and television incentives have lifted the screen production industry out of the doldrums, prompting the Auckland Council to back new studios in West Auckland.
Implemented last April, the generous incentives allow overseas film and TV producers to receive up to 25 per cent of their budgets from taxpayers in return for spending money on production in New Zealand.
The incentives coincided with a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar against the greenback and both have helped make New Zealand more attractive to overseas filmmakers and programme makers.
Much of the activity is in the Auckland region, and the Auckland Council development agency Ateed is working on a public private partnership (PPP) to build a studio complex.
The return of Disney's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had a big role in the Government increasing the incentives.
At the end of last year MTV announced its Shannara series would be filmed here, and the Starz channel in the US has plans for the Evil Dead franchise.
All three have created a new buzz in the local screen production sector.
Ateed this year revived a study on facilities for the screen industry in Auckland and is involved in addressing a shortage of film studio space.
Ateed chief executive Brett O'Riley said the agency also saw prospects for more activity with the New Zealand Film Commission because of a co-production deal with China.
The council agency joined a Film Commission visit to China last year.
O'Riley envisaged the new complex would have some educational role for the screen sector.
He said a decision was likely to be made in two months.
But any new studio venture with the private sector might be contentious.
Before the local body amalgamation the Waitakere City Council took a 44.4 per cent stake in a film studio joint venture in Henderson Valley, investing $6 million in the joint venture.
The Auckland Council now fully owns the studios, now called the Auckland Film Studios.
The investment has been criticised for a lack of transparency in the investment and lack of evidence of good returns to ratepayers.
O'Riley said the council contribution to a PPP for new film studios would be through providing land rather than cash. Giving money was not part of Ateed's strategy, but the council had plenty of land available.
Film industry sources said the most likely site for the proposed multi-studio complex was in the Hobsonville- Kumeu area, although Ateed said several options were being considered.
The regional film agency Film Auckland said there was a serious shortage of studio space and the Auckland Film Studio was booked out until the end of this year.
Film Auckland chief executive Morgan Stewart said activity in the sector was cyclical, and attracting film and TV projects had to be done against heavy competition from other countries offering incentives.
Stewart said New Zealand offered a lot to productions, but improving facilities was one way to maintain the attractiveness of Auckland to the international film and TV sector and make the ebb and flow of international work less volatile.