It's a wrap for regional film office Film South
Film South, the regional film office for Canterbury and the West Coast will be ceasing operations this week after eight years marketing the regions’ locations, creative talent and facilities.
Launched by former Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore in July 2001 with the aim of increasing screen production activity in the region, the office has been responsible for attracting several high profile national and international film and television projects to the area, most notably securing location filming for Disney/Walden Media’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
A Charitable Trust, Film South received funding from a variety of agencies including annual grants from Development West Coast and Selwyn District Council but Christchurch City Council had maintained core support for the marketing agency over the past six years.
After eighteen months of consultation and presentations, City Council staff recently informed Trustees: “Christchurch City Council did not see an ongoing role for itself in funding the operational activities of the Trust.”
Trustee Alastair Bowes believes the local industry has benefited significantly from a dedicated staff and volunteer management board with numerous achievements: Creating and educating communities in ‘film friendliness’; establishing a comprehensive image library and on-line database of locations, crew, equipment, business resources; and winning nine international marketing awards.
“We are disappointed that an industry worth $20 million in screen production annual revenue to the Canterbury/West Coast economy [Statistics NZ 2008] will no longer have a profile on par with international cities competing for screen industry production,” he says.
Bowes believes that in times of recession “it is essential to maintain support for agencies charged with attracting new business and employment opportunities.”
Film South initiated visits by influential U.S. location managers including Bill Bowling (“Saving Private Ryan”, “The Insider”, “Red Dragon”); Mike Fantasia (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Seabiscuit”, “Memoirs Of A Geisha”) Ilt Jones (“Transformers”, “Big Love”, “Gattaca”) and Michelle Latham (“Mission Impossible 3”; “National Treasure”).
“Film South’s closure after 8 years serving as the regional film office for Canterbury and the West Coast represents a serious loss for not only the region’s screen production industry but for New Zealand,” said Judith McCann CEO of the national film office Film New Zealand.
“Film South is a valued regional partner for Film New Zealand and the network of regional offices collaborating on inquiries about filming in New Zealand, promoting and advertising New Zealand as a screen production destination and contributing to high standard professional ‘film friendly’ services at the local and regional level.”
Outgoing Executive Manager Jacqui Wood says of her marketing role: “Once the decision makers get here it is an easy sell - we have the most spectacular backyard to film in and I’ve enjoyed seeing the reactions of some of the world’s most creative players to the drama of our landscapes.”
Wood’s prior experience in feature film and television production served the office well but says the most rewarding aspect of managing the charitable trust was supporting local filmmakers.
“Mostly I’ve loved being in a position to advise and encourage young filmmakers to grow their projects. It’s also been great to see the increases in production activity and local infrastructure.”