An Auckland Council entity has commissioned a study into Hobsonville Point land becoming this city's Wellywood.

Brett O'Riley, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) chief executive, said KPMG had been engaged to examine the feasibility of the private sector developing the prime northwestern council-owned site for much-needed filming venues.

Big aircraft hangars on the ex-airforce military base could make ideal indoor filming areas, alongside the rapidly developing Hobsonville Point new housing estates.

"We don't have enough film studio space so we've commissioned this study looking at the potential growth options. KPMG is looking at private sector interest in developing studios in Auckland, some on council land - the existing Henderson site and also at Hobsonville in the marine precinct, using big buildings," O'Riley said.

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David Rankin, chief executive of land owner Auckland Council Property, said agreement was yet to be reached. "We have some ongoing discussions about the various options for the employment component of the site. Nothing has been agreed but what has been decided is that 10ha will be for housing and the other 10ha for employment," Rankin said. The 10ha was originally zoned for marine purposes but the superyacht boat building industry shunned the chance to move there en masse, resulting in the council doing a rethink on the site's use.

O'Riley said warehouses which the film industry might have used previously were now storing milk powder, so the dairy boom was squeezing out the screen boom.

Ateed issues permits for filming and O'Riley said that in the June 30, 2014 financial year, 366 Auckland film permits were issued, up 11 per cent on the 2013 year.

"Having only completed nine months of this financial year, we're miles ahead," he said.

More Auckland studios and sites were crucial because international film-makers were flocking to Auckland where movies, television shows and advertisements worth many millions have been made, are under way or planned.

Statistics NZ figures showed Wellington remained New Zealand's film capital, contributing $644 million (79 per cent) to the screen industry's feature film revenue in 2014 compared with Auckland's $292 million from the television sector.

"We're still a long way behind Wellywood but there's a difference between value and volume. Wellington gets big productions like The Hobbit but we tend to get greater volume," O'Riley said.

The sector got a big boost lately from many overseas production companies choosing Auckland as the location for new films, he said.

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Representatives of the film industry have complained of work drying up after the end of box-office smash hits such as The Lord Of The Rings, but O'Riley said Auckland was now a vanguard of the renaissance in the screen industry. "The film and tourism sectors in Auckland are experiencing a new lease of life.

"The multi-million dollar production of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, The Green Legend, last year signalled a resurgence of interest in filming on location in Auckland," O'Riley said.

Sir Peter Jackson, left, and Steven Spielberg have filmed in New Zealand.
Sir Peter Jackson, left, and Steven Spielberg have filmed in New Zealand.

"This screen activity includes producing feature films, television series and television commercials and these productions pour millions of dollars of spending into the Auckland economy," he said.

But feature film makers weren't the only ones drawn to Auckland.

"Over the past 12 months household names like Samsung, Lipton Tea, Ford and BMW have shot commercials in Auckland. Power Rangers filming has returned to Auckland," he said.

The production company of one of the word's most famous film-makers had also picked Auckland.

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"Steven Spielberg is shooting a pilot episode for the television series Lumen ... Other television series being film here are Shannara, and Ash vs Evil Dead ... " he said.

Shannara will mainly be filmed at Auckland Council-owned Auckland Film Studios. In information for those considering filming in Auckland Ateed emphasised the ease of doing business in the city.

"New Zealand has a relatively simple, low-cost tax system with no regional or state taxes."

It also stressed a ready and willing workforce. "Skilled, competent and willing to figure out the best way to do things - it's no surprise that many of the country's crew work on a contract basis," Ateed said.

Lights, camera, Auckland

Films, TV series, ads which have been or are being made here:

•Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend

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•Power Rangers

•Lumen by Steven Spielberg's production company

•TV series Shannara

•TV series Ash vs Evil Dead starring Lucy Lawless

•Advertisements for Samsung, Lipton Tea, Ford and BMW

Source: Ateed

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