Industry luminary unearthed locations for productions such as Lord of the Rings.

The film industry is mourning the death of an influential member. Location scout Dave Comer, 58, of Queenstown, died on Christmas Day from a rare form of cancer.

Originally from Dunedin, Comer was a highly regarded location scout - both nationally and globally.

His work included unearthing Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, and scouting locations for Wolverine and 10,000BC.

Comer, the Film Otago Southland Trust chairman, and his wife, Peta Carey, directed and produced the 2004 short film Ata Whenua - Shadowland, which captured the Fiordland landscape and was screened daily to tourists in Te Anau.


Film Otago Southland executive director Kevin Jennings said he had known Comer, who was "extremely well-respected throughout the industry", for about 20 years.

"I know that a lot of the directors that I'd spoken to about him [said] the great thing about him was he had 'the eye'.

"He knew what they were after ... he knew what they needed from a filming perspective."

Mr Jennings said he appreciated the guidance and help Comer had given him over the past seven years with the trust. "He really was somebody I could go to when I needed [to]. He was just always there."

In a 2009 interview with Mountain Scene, Comer told of some of his more hair-raising adventures overseas during which he "seemed to avoid getting kidnapped, shot, arrested, sick or too rattled".

He was once mistaken for a terrorist while scoping a Toyota car commercial in a remote area of Peru - and found himself facing a squad of armed soldiers, guns pointed at his chest. He was let go after heated negotiations with his guide, who the soldiers recognised as an actor from a Peruvian television soap opera.

Comer is survived by his wife and daughter, Billie. His funeral will be held from 2pm tomorrow at Paradise, near Glenorchy.