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Influx of movie industry workers will 'supercharge' NZ's economy, Film Commission says

An influx of foreign film crews will create thousands of jobs for Kiwis and "supercharge" New Zealand's economy after the Covid-19 pandemic brought production to a halt, a film expert says.

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New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executve Annabelle Sheehan responded to backlash over Avatar crews coming to New Zealand when others have not been allowed in. Source: Breakfast

However, the revelation that dozens of crew for the Avatar movie sequels have been granted special permission to enter the country has angered some people who say it proves the rules are inconsistent and unfair.

New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive Annabelle Sheehan defended their right to be here though.

She told TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning that international production would put about in excess of $600 million into the economy each year.

"So being able to restart production on some of those international productions and allow a small number of business people into the country triggers thousands of jobs for New Zealanders, so it's a really important opportunity and it balances the kind of public health, humanitarian and economic issues," she said.

More than 90 per cent of crew are New Zealanders working on international productions made here, Ms Sheehan said.

But when asked how we can be sure the creatives entering New Zealand would follow Covid-19 restrictions, she said, "production companies themselves, it's as important for them so I think we can be really confident of how that production will get started again.

"I think it's so important to everybody, and in particular to businesses, that they operate in a really safe way, and New Zealand has created a very strong standard of protocols for production crews to work to and they must stick to it."

Ms Sheehan said Covid-19 restrictions had been "devastating" for the movie industry in New Zealand, which at the time there were 47 New Zealand productions under way.

As well, 2000 people were working on international productions which came to a halt amid the pandemic.

"It's really important to get that industry up and running, it's worth more than $3 billion per annum to the New Zealand economy and I do really value the contribution of the screen sector, I think it has the capacity to supercharge New Zealand's economy and it's bringing in new money into the country which I think is so valuable."

As well as the Avatar films and another "secret" film, Ms Sheehan said the number of movies filmed here will be regulated slowly and thought through in terms of the value it brings to New Zealand.

As well, Ms Sheehan said New Zealand's landscape and the service and hospitality sector promotes the nation on a world stage for tourism and future work in films.

"We have this unique way of telling stories in new Zealand, it gives us Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Whale Rider, and we interpret global stories like Lord of the Rings, so I think we're rightly proud of what New Zealand does in the screen sector.

"International production is really local production. It makes jobs for thousands of New Zealanders and their careers paths ... we're seeing such fantastic work from New Zealanders."