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Upper Hutt’s new film studio in the frame for world recognition

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A new $45 million film studio development is under construction in Upper Hutt will put New Zealand in the frame to become the favoured global location for big screen blockbusters and television shows.

New Zealand’s Covid19-free status makes Lane Street Studios an extremely attractive proposition to host large-scale film productions and television shows from both domestic and international markets.

A former data centre in Wallaceville will house the new studio complex which includes bespoke spaces for physical and digital content creation, executive offices, cafeteria and communications space, on-site production offices, editorial and post-production amenities, as well as full costume, art department and workshop facilities.

The site also includes space for the future development of two additional large international-standard sound stages - with the first already under construction.

The project is funded as part of the Totara Trust by the Evans family; fourth generation Upper Hutt locals who recognise the opportunity to develop a creative hub that will provide up to 500 new jobs per production - delivering much needed economic benefit to the region.

Lane Street Studios Director Kristy Grant says the organisation was specifically set up to provide industry sustainability through physical production and commercial activity, as well as education, industry training and employment pathways.

"We are developing a national training programme to deliver consistent industry skill sets as part of the ‘Share the Knowledge’ programme.

"We see the value of investing in our creative sector and there is an opportunity for Lane Street to play a part in the economic recovery programme for Wellington, helping displaced workers retrain for the industry. "The completion of Lane Street Studios increases the region’s capacity for a range of screen projects which means there will be increased need for jobs to support the industry as it grows." WellingtonNZ Screen Wellington Manager Nicci Boucher says the opening of Lane Street Studios will undoubtedly attract more screen productions, workers, and jobs to the Wellington region and have spill over benefits to the region including hospitality and other ancillary industries.

"It’s been designed to accommodate multiple, smaller productions simultaneously, which will help the industry create a more sustainable pipeline of locally made projects to significantly boost the sector. But it will also be suitable for a single, large film or TV production."

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy says the studio is an exciting development for the region and, when open, will help activate other economic sectors including hospitality and accommodation. "This project addresses the country’s current capacity gap in purpose-built studio space, enabling larger international and domestic productions to come to Wellington and access the world-class facilities and experts based here. It will also enable New Zealand to capitalise on being the safest production destination in the world right now."

Remutaka MP Chris Hipkins says the development of Lane Street Studios is exciting news for Upper Hutt.

"The Wellington region is fast becoming a creative hub which is great news for the creative sector and for New Zealand.

"The studios will create jobs and will provide opportunities for increased economic activity in our local community. Upper Hutt is an ideal place for a film studio with natural backdrops which are sensational. Upper Hutt is a great place to live, work and play."

Since 2014 and prior to Covid-19, gross revenue for NZ screen industry business has grown to $3.27B and nearly 30, 000 jobs generated across the screen value chain.

New Zealanders have won 25 Academy Awards and 10 BAFTA Awards and the screen sector in NZ is recognised as one of the most successful in the world.

Last year Wellington was selected as a UNESCO City of Film. It recognises not just its world class film making infrastructure and history but how Wellington collectively embraces film through things such as film festivals, film-making competitions and educational opportunities.

The studios are scheduled for completion in phases from December 2020 through to August 2022

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