In November, Screen Auckland Manager Matt Horrocks and Production Attraction Specialist Kirsty Donoghue travelled to Los Angeles to meet with powerhouses of the global entertainment industry. Their mission: to engage with Hollywood's production chiefs and lay the groundwork for Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland's role in the 2024 production lineup.
Arriving the same week the 118-day SAG-AFTRA strike was resolved, Matt and Kirsty embarked on a whirlwind schedule, orchestrating pipeline meetings with entertainment giants such as Netflix, Blumhouse, Disney, Fox, Sony-Pictures Entertainment, Legendary, Warner Bros. and Fifth Season. The duo also met with the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) and the New Zealand Consulate in Los Angeles to explore collaborative opportunities that could shape the future of the screen sector in Tāmaki Makaurau.
The team is excited to report anticipation is building for a blockbuster 2024, with international demand for Auckland's cast, crew, locations, studios, and post-production and visual effects (VFX) providers expected to reach unprecedented levels.
Matt says, “With this full pipeline, the challenge on the horizon is one of capacity and delivery, placing significant pressure on our domestic sector.”
Matt adds, beyond the strength of the pipeline, the trip underscored the demand for Auckland’s post-production and VFX services, as well as long-form reality content crews, studios and production services.
Auckland's formidable and burgeoning post-production and VFX capabilities took centre stage in every meeting we had, and there are now plans brewing for an even stronger Tāmaki Makaurau-Los Angeles connection in the coming year.
The new Screen Auckland attraction pack was well received, with studios appreciating its clarity and practicality, which provides a solid foundation for long-term production planning. This was coupled with positive feedback on the effectiveness of the recent New Zealand Screen Production Grant 5 per cent uplift guidelines for international productions.
Kirsty says another highlight of the trip was visiting Manhattan Beach Studios. “This venue is a testament to best practices in studio development and management. We are now thinking about how our experiences and learnings can further enrich and inspire Auckland's screen industry.”
As visitors to Hollywood studios, the pair observed that the film industry has made a point of preserving and celebrating its own legacy.
“Studio boardrooms, soundstages and lots, name and celebrate the films made there and the luminaries who made them, from the silent films to Breaking Bad. This may not be an immediate call to action, but we did note that our own legacy here in Tāmaki Makaurau, from the Piano to Our Flag Means Death, is equally worthy of recognition and celebration and something we should all think about as we embrace the demands of upcoming productions,” says Matt.
With the strikes resolved, Matt and Kirsty observed a renewed energy in Los Angeles and studios wasting no time reigniting the box office, unleashing blockbuster films such as Wonka overnight.
Awards season can now resume, and Auckland's top talent is shining bright with nominations for productions such as Sweet Tooth with 11 Nominations in the Children’s and Family Emmys, and The Rings of Power - Season 1 for the Academy Awards. We look forward to the NZTV Awards this week, and a very busy 2024.