Film-makers face an average 20 per cent hike in Auckland Council fees if they want thundering surf scenes like those in The Piano, or a country town like Warkworth for a TV series like The Brokenwood Mysteries.

The fee review coincides with a boom for screen productions in the region, with 430 permits issued - twice as many as last year.

Councillor Denise Krum, who headed the review, said proposed fees went through public consultation and were designed to make Auckland film-friendly.

Current charges varied according to whatever the former eight councils had set four years ago.


New fees would be the same for all locations and vary according to the duration of the shoot and the level of public disruption, said Mrs Krum.

"There was clear industry support for regional consistency and agreement with the concept of fees which are scaled according to the likely impact of a film shoot."

South Pacific Pictures said that with its ongoing show Shortland Street, it was paying $300 a day to shoot in Waitakere, which was Auckland's cheapest area. It was of a low to medium impact - operating out of a small truck and some vans, and $200 would be a fairer daily fee.

The extra $100 a day was a significant cost for a show that shoots for 49 weeks a year.

The company said shooting the Kiwi comedy series Step Dave on the North Shore incurred a daily fee of $375 as it was deemed to be medium impact for a city shoot.

However, the show was funded by NZ on Air and it said local taxpayer-assisted productions should be charged consistently at the lower end of the scale.

Auckland-based Michael Packer, who works as an executive director for film shoots in Vietnam and Canada, said the new guideline for commercial filming was "draconian and restrictive" and pandered to the big-budget productions.

"It's the small indie [independent] guys where the talent comes from and they've been chased out by Auckland Council making it too hard with red tape and too expensive with fees."


Mr Packer, an expert in handling camera-toting drones, noted the council had included their use in the new protocol, making it compulsory to notify Screen Auckland and abide by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules.

"If you want to film in a park with a quad helicopter, it will be impossible from August 1, because you have to get so many permissions."

Film-making in Auckland

• $650 million-a-year boost for region's economy.

• 430 permits for filming issued in 2014-15.

• $300-a-day current lowest fee (Waitakere) to $500 (regional parks).

• $50 will be the fee for a low-impact shoot, $190-$400 for medium impact, $300-$800 for high impact and $750-$1600 for major impact.

• Screen Auckland's fees apply for use of public open space - defined as any road, berm, footpath, town square, plaza, park/reserve or beach.

• It is operated by Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.