A fourth-generation Upper Hutt family is funding the creation of a $45 million film studio in Wallaceville.
Design and planning for Lane Street Studios has been underway for the last 18 months, with construction underway on the site now.
“You plot what significant events occur in the history of a city, today for Upper Hutt is a very significant day,” Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said.
The property, which was used as a data centre but has sat vacant the last five years, has been owned by the Evans family since the early nineties.
After receiving inquiries to make films on the site, Rod Evans decided a proper film studio should be built there.
The studio will include space for production, digital content creation, editing and post-production, as well as facilities for costume, art and a workshop.
A double sound stage is being created, with plans for another, which Lane Street Studios director Kristy Grant said is key for attracting international productions due to the lighting angles that can be provided.
“They really want us to be up and running as soon as possible, so it’s basically as soon as we can open our doors. So we'd be wanting to see that by July next year,” Ms Grant said.
The studio is already in talks with international film and television series producers about using the location.
“We're going to be a force to be reckoned with on a national basis… Wellington's where it's happening,” Ms Grant said.
The New Zealand Film Commission said in a statement it's aware of various talks about film studio construction in the country, and said there’s strong international demand for more stages in New Zealand.
“We are able to work post-Covid and lots of countries can’t, and so the availability of studio spaces is the key thing we’re seeing at the moment,” Screen Wellington manager Nicci Boucher said.
“We are negotiating with a lot of projects - obviously there are a lot of factors that go into that, particularly in a post-Covid industry, but we are trying to service as much of that production as possible.”
The studio will open in stages from December this year through to August 2022.
Ms Grant said shovel-ready financial support from other sources will get the sound stage construction completed quicker.
“We could expedite it and make the most of opportunities coming our way.”