After their months of TV-making in Rotorua, Auckland-based Greenstone TV wrapped up filming the new $5.6 million action-thriller series called Vegas this past weekend. And if Greenstone’s head of drama Harriet Crampton has her way, it’ll happen again.
Harriet, known for producing Xena: Warrior Princess (1995), said, “I’ve worked in the film industry for over 20 years and have never experienced anything like the manaakitanga, community support, and access we’ve been given in Rotorua.”
You don’t have to be very short with hairy feet to see what The Lord of the Rings did for this country’s film and tourism industries, and while international tourism remains on hold due to COVID-19, the local and international demand for content has never been higher. As the economic development organisation for Rotorua, it was a no-brainer for us to capitalise on this demand for studio space and capability.
Working with Greenstone, the newly formed Waiariki Film Studios (a partnership between Steambox Film Collective and Film Bay of Plenty), and award-winning writer, Michael Te Arawa Bennett and his 10,000 Company to secure a location for their film studio didn’t come without its challenges, but eventually they set up shop on White Street.
We also helped the company navigate the investment ecosystem and the numerous public and philanthropic funding sources to stitch together both capital funding through the Provincial Growth Fund, and working capital. We also contributed funding for the Studio Manager and assisted with consents and compliance through the Rotorua Lakes Council.
“Rotorua Economic Development’s support of Waiariki Film Studios has enabled us to work with Steambox and Film Bay of Plenty using the temporary studio facilities as sets and office space. It would have been almost impossible for us to film in Rotorua without Waiariki Film Studios,” Harriet said.
“Rotorua is a unique and spectacular location which lends itself beautifully to making drama. I would film here again in a heartbeat.”
From October to December, the approximately 40 film crew and 100 extras – all hired locally for the filming – could be seen around town working with the actors and incorporating into the production some of the city’s businesses such as McLeod’s Bookstore, as well as the faux pub called The Black Horse.
Vegas is based on the book Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard.