Jennings praises Rhodes’ efforts
Film Otago Southland executive manager KJ Jennings is on the spot when it comes to film industry goings-on.
The Queenstown-based certified film commissioner understandably doesn’t want to spill the beans on commercially sensitive deals or tell other people’s stories.
What he can say is that Wanaka’s Jason Rhodes is the real deal, ‘‘an extremely hard worker’’ with a visionary sense of what is possible in the industry.
‘‘Is the studio a goer? Look at what they’ve already achieved there. It is already a great asset to the film industry in regard to the props store. It would probably be one of the best props stores in the Southern Hemisphere. People are constantly amazed when they come here and see the wide variety. And Jason is very film friendly. He has a good reputation in the film industry. That in itself is a great asset,’’ Jennings said.
Our region lacks infrastructure but the filmmakers keep coming and a studio would have particular value in bad weather, allowing filming to continue inside.
‘‘For example, when 10,000BC was at the Snow Farm, they were able to go into the large tunnel barn when the weather went bad. Having that was a great asset. It would be good for us to have an asset like that too,’’ Jennings said.
Big is best. No matter what is built, companies always want more, he said.
Studio props can be enormous, multi-storey constructions. This is challenging in our district’s strictly controlled construction industry.
‘‘One of Jason’s unique design specs is he is going down. You do need height. You have to be able to get lights above,’’ Jennings said.
Over the years, none of Queenstown’s various studio proposals has eventuated. Funding has proved a bugbear.
There is no one way to fund one. The models range from council-owned, such as Auckland Film Studios in Henderson, private-public funding arrangements as in the United States, and building your own like Sir Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk’s Stone Street Studios.
City studios fill quickly, forcing film-makers to look regionally. Some carry on without a studio because the location is worth it.
For example, Dreamworks current production is in Dunedin and the art department has set up in the old Bell Tea building.
Jennings says Rhodes’ efforts so far should be celebrated.
‘‘I’ve brought people to visit him and show them and everyone has gone away feeling blown away,’’ Jennings said.
Action: KJ Jennings, Film Otago Southland executive manager.