Far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, in the Pacific Ocean, is a picturesque location that is just begging to be filmed. It’s the archipelago of the Chatham Islands, a New Zealand territory. Minus the contemporary lifestyle, noise, pollution and gigantic facades, this destination allows filmmakers to re-engage with the natural world. With no more than 650 inhabitants, the largest islands in the archipelago are Chatham Island and Pitt Island.
Filmmaking in the Chatham Islands is a journey of discovery. You will take a step back in time, to how life used to be. Prepare to be surprised as these mysterious islands yield their secrets – landscapes with volcanic peaks thrusting up out of rolling lands, forest-topped towering sea cliffs, the vast expanse of endless sandy beaches and the ever-present scenic ocean.
These secluded islands, a total of ten, offer an unforgettable experience – from scenery to green pastoral lands and solitude, the place is tranquil and ideal for romantic getaways, eco tours and capturing nature at its best on reel.
Isolated for millions of years, rare varieties of plants and animal species can be found here. The economic mix of fishing and crabbing and a little adventure tourism have been stable for the past 50 years. The wooden houses surrounded by acres of lands used for farming instantly take you back to a sepia-toned era.
Waitangi is the largest city with maximum number of locals. There are other villages such as Te One and Kaingaroa apart from fishing villages Owenga and Port Hutt. An agricultural scene on the island or walking barefoot on the beach, cinematographically are ideal for the genres of romance, epics and thrillers. The changeable, moody and stunning landscape is a photographer’s delight.
With nothing but ocean at every end, the locales are well-stocked with marine life and jagged mountains. Open spaces all around allow production houses to build large-scale movie sets or simply shoot the setting as it is. Being administered by New Zealand, facilities and other equipment can be made available without any impediment.
The Moriori and Maori, the indigenous people of these islands, comprise the largest minority and are very friendly. The islands have a ‘host system’, which means tourists need to book accommodation beforehand. The host is then responsible for your stay.
To enhance tourism and filming, the value of the grant offered by the New Zealand Film Commission has been increased from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent. Vast open spaces, unused locations and unexplored islands, this backdrop is not only enthralling but gives filmmakers something fresh and never seen before locales.
The value of the grant is 15 per cent of qualifying expenditure.
The grant continues to apply to screen productions in the following formats: feature film, television movie (drama) and television drama series or mini-series.
Large Budget Screen Production (LBSP)
GrantEligible productions may access the grant where the Qualifying New Zealand Production Expenditure (QNZPE) reaches the following thresholds:
• QNZPE must be at least NZ$ 15 million. QNZPE is generally defined as the production expenditure incurred for, or attributable to: goods and services provided in New Zealand; the use of land located in New Zealand; and the use of a good that is located in New Zealand at the time that good is used in the making of the screen production. (Note: QNZPE does include costs of all cast and crew of a film’s unit while in New Zealand.)
• QNZPE is at least NZ$ 30 million or QNZPE on individual productions is at least NZ$ 3 million; productions included in the bundle have completed principal photography within a 24-month period; the applicant for each production included within the bundle is related to each other applicant by having 50 per cent or more shareholding in common.
Post, Digital And Visual Effects (PDV) Grant
Eligible productions undertaking post, digital and visual effects (PDV) work may access the grant where:
• QNZPE for a single production is between NZ$ 3 million and NZ$ 15 million.
• The QNZPE is spent or is necessarily related to the PDV activities listed in the criteria.• PDV productions may be included in a bundle where the applicants meet the requirement related to shareholding in common.
Grant Administrative Provisions
Where a production’s ability to reach the QNZPE NZ$ 15 million threshold or the NZ$ 30 million bundle threshold may be at risk from future exchange rate fluctuations, an application for the sole purpose of determining QNZPE eligibility may be submitted to New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) as administrator of the grant. Such applications must be submitted no earlier than 90 days prior to the start of principal photography. It will enable the production to use the exchange rate relevant on the date such application is received for the purpose of determining grant eligibility. However, in such cases, the value of the grant will still be calculated on the actual QNZPE incurred.
Grant applications may be submitted before completion of the production under the following circumstances:
• Each time a production reaches QNZPE of NZ$ 50 million
• Within the NZ$ 30 million bundle threshold, on completion on the first individual production that meets the QNZPE of NZ$ 15 million
• On completion of the QNZPE applicable to the eligible production (both LBSP and PDV)
Applicants must be either:
• A New Zealand resident company;
• A foreign corporation operating with a fixed establishment in New Zealand for the purposes of lodging an income tax return (both when it lodges the grant application and when the grant is paid).
Payment of the grant will be dependent on the Inland Revenue Department verification of the audited information provided to the NZFC. Provided that the application for expenditure is complete and verified, the NZFC will endeavour to approve payment within three months of application.