Jen­nings praises Rhodes’ ef­forts

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

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.

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