150 guests turned up to celebrate the launch of Bay of Plenty Film (BOP Film) on Wednesday evening in Tauranga, with former Waitakere mayor and NZFC board member Sir Bob Harvey cheerleading for the initiative.
The studios in West Auckland were created during Harvey’s time as Mayor of Waitakere, At the BOP launch he spoke enthusiastically about the benefits of providing good facilities to attract productions – comments his successors in Auckland might also pay heed to.
Driving the creation of BOP Film have been Tanya Horo, Anton Steel and Tessa Blackett.
Steel wrote and directed the 2014 independent feature shot in the region, The Z-Nail Gang. He worked on The Insatiable Moon and No. 2, as well as being an AD on several international productions including Emperor, Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and various Pacific Renaissance productions.
Horo, who played lead Mareeka in Steel’s Z-Nail Gang, remains a very recognisable face from long-running TVC campaigns as the face of House of Travel. Last September she launched agency Bay of Plenty Actors in Tauranga, for which BOP Film is a natural partner, although it’s not a commercial operation.
BOP Actors is having success both in getting actors on to productions shooting in Auckland, and in providing talent for TVCs and other projects shooting in the Bay region. Just ahead of the BOP Film launch, actress Katherine Kennard (Nothing Trivial, Everything We Loved, Spartacus) began running screen acting classes in Tauranga, which were quickly over-subscribed.
Now the excitement of the launch is over, Horo said it’s time to start making things happen, although she’s in no way expecting overnight success.
BOP Film will be about showcasing the region and creating more opportunities for cast and crew, and exploiting (in a good way) the region’s natural assets, its varied landscapes and coastal regions. The Bay of Plenty region doesn’t presently have a film office, although it used to have Rotorua-based Film Volcanic, so BOP Film will be taking on some of that work.
The organisation also plans to investigate the viability of building a studio in the region, to be able to service larger-scale or longer-running productions. There’s evidence elsewhere in the country that the lack of studio resources is causing NZ to lose productions it might otherwise have attracted.
There are local independent productions in the Bay of Plenty region, including half a dozen films and webseries in pre-production at the moment, but those don’t pay the bills in Rotorua or Tauranga any better than they do elsewhere. Horo’s clear that for the region to develop sustainable opportunities it needs to attract some of the larger productions visiting New Zealand.
Now BOP Film will begin to build its presence in the region. The organisation plans to present film screenings as part of fundraising efforts to finance some of its activities and establish an online resource showcasing the region’s offer to producers and production companies.