Economic boost from movie seen

The filming of a DreamWorks Studios movie in Marlborough could have great benefits for the region, says Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman.

A-list actor and X-Men star Michael Fassbender, actress Alicia Vikander and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz have leading roles in the movie adaptation of The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M L Stedman.

Filming is to begin at an undisclosed location in the region in September.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said having a Dreamworks movie filmed in Marlborough was “pretty exciting”.

“We didn’t think of Marlborough as a location for films, but it’s something we might consider going forward, especially after the success of the Hobbit.

If the film was a success, it could attract fans to the region. “People go to locations where films are being made – it would definitely put us on the international map.”

He could not reveal where the movie was being filmed, but said it was a “stunning location”.

DreamWorks Studios has been working with Marlborough District Council’s Smart Business Marlborough group since early July, Sowman said.

Destination Marlborough and Marlborough Roads were also involved, he said.

“We are just helping to facilitate things . . . we don’t want any hiccups.”

He understood DreamWorks was looking at setting up office in Blenheim while the movie was being filmed.

Council strategic policy and economic development manager Neil Henry, who heads Smart Business Marlborough, said they would help where needed on matters such as building consents, resource consents, roading closures, water and infrasture.

“We just want to make it as easy as possible for them.”

When the crew were scoping the area for locations, he helped arrange permission for a helicopter to land at the site, he said.

“We had 24 hours notice to get the permission to land on the edge of the road . . . But I think it’s very exciting to suddenly get something like this come to the region.”

The main actors and some crew members would be staying on site, others would be staying in the wider Marlborough region, he said.

“They bring their kitchen, their accommodation – everything – with them. It’s like their own little industry out there.”

Speaking from Wellington, DreamWorks Studios’ line producer Tom Karnowski, who was the executive producer of 10,000 BC and The Illusionist, said about 50 of the 70 crew members were New Zealanders.

“We have not brought many people in from outside the country at all, maybe about 10 or 15. It’s mainly New Zealanders.

“It’s a studio film but it’s not a huge one – it’s not huge in terms of budget.

“Everyone is going to be staying in and around the Blenheim area. We are madly working on finding accommodation for everybody.”

Karnowski said casting for smaller parts was taking place in New Zealand and Australia, but no decisions had been made yet.

The small number of extras needed for the film would be New Zealanders, he said.

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Destination Marlborough general manager Tracy Johnston said they were looking at opportunities for the region when the movie was released.

“We are looking at how we can leverage that.

“It would be great to see more of Marlborough on the big screen.”

Destination Marlborough had had a couple of meetings with the production team and would be providing the cast and crew with welcome packs, she said.

“If there is down time or if the opportunity pops up we will facilitate an arrangement so they can see more of the region. We want to help them get out and about.”

Film New Zealand chief executive Gisella Carr said they were “delighted to see a prestigious production like The Light Between Oceans come to New Zealand”. “It is great news for New Zealand’s screen industry and speaks to our international reputation for excellence in screen production as well as stunning and unique locations.”

– The Marlborough Express