Hollywood heads to Upper Hutt with brand-new $50 million film studio

Hollywood - the Upper Hutt version - is almost open for business.

The first stage of Lane Street Studios, situated in Upper Hutt, north of Wellington, is about to open - an addition New Zealand's film sector has been crying out for amid COVID-19.

"We're professionals in making things that have never been made before," says Joaquin Loyzaga of Scale Studios, a company that specialises in designing and producing props for film and television.

Scale Studios is among the many businesses itching to use Lane Street Studios, worth $50 million.

'We've got a lot of backlog of content to create and demand for facilities and production in New Zealand is really strong and continues to grow,' says Kristy Grant of Lane Street Studios. 

The main production building is set to open next month, which will cater for costumes, make-up and props - it even has its own cinema.

Two state-of-the-art sound stages are also under construction, which will be used for virtual and physical sets as well as production. Completion is estimated to be in the first quarter of next year.

COVID-19 has hit the film industry hard, so the arrival of Lane Street Studios is music to the struggling sector's ears.

"More studios, more films, more work and we can do the things we can enjoy like this sort of stuff," says Loyzaga.

"Having a base for up to 500 people here and in Miramar and Avalon is really important," says Nicci Boucher of Screen Wellington.  

The facilities have piqued the interest of around 12 different production companies in New Zealand and overseas.

"Mostly television and film in the traditional medium, but also quite a few inquiries around virtual production," Grant says. 

The studio will also provide a significant boost to the local economy.

"It's huge and when you look back at history, there will be certain things in the history of Upper Hutt that'll make a difference - this will be one of them," says Wayne Guppy, Upper Hutt's Mayor.

So Hollywood - why choose Upper Hutt?

"The fact is, it offers everything Hollywood wants to film here," Guppy says.