As New Zealand’s screen industry resumes business as usual, Auckland-based production facility Studio West unveils what will be the city’s largest purpose-built soundstage.
Studio West, a regular base for local and international production for the past 25 years, began building expansion as early as 2019, but construction was put on hold for a full year during the most difficult phases of the pandemic.
“In April 2021, I would say we were brave enough to start building again,” says Kay Howe, CEO of Studio West. “But now everything is looking pretty good. We are ready to open our doors and film and television production in New Zealand is back. It was an exciting journey to get here.
Located in Auckland’s Glen Eden district, Studio West spans eight acres and features three pre-existing sound stages (3,315 square feet, 5,650 square feet and 7,530 square feet), production and location offices, manufacturing, a wardrobe, a laundry room, green rooms, hairdressing and make-up areas. The new stage – dubbed Studio 4 – will, however, give the installation a significant boost. The building adds 16,236 square feet of open-plan production and post-production offices, and a state-of-the-art soundstage covering 36,570 square feet.
“We have long heard from the international industry that Auckland needs more stage space,” says Jasmine Millet, director of Screen Auckland, the government-backed regional cinema office that champions the industry. “So it’s exciting to see Studio West grow from a studio that could very well support location-based productions to a studio that can also accommodate larger projects – those that need to do a decent amount of construction.”
“I certainly see this as an answer to a need that we have felt for a long time in Auckland,” adds Millet.
Studio West has already booked its first project for Stage 4. Period action drama The convertstarring Guy Pearce and directed by New Zealander Lee Tamahori, began working at the facility late last month.
Studio West’s Stage 4 joins growing spending on Auckland’s production facilities, which in recent years has attracted projects such as Disney Mulane and Warner Bros. The mega, as well as a host of series productions for streamers. New Zealand’s generous production incentives and diverse natural beauty have always been major assets for international shoots, but Auckland’s reputation for its strong crew and rapidly improving technical capabilities has continued to rekindle region a competitive, world-class production hub. The city’s Kumeu Film Studios expanded its offerings in 2017 and now boasts the largest indoor dive tank in the Southern Hemisphere, 43,055 square feet of warehouse stage space, and two purpose-built stages of 24,650 square feet. Nearby X3 studios also offer many specially designed flexible stages.
Howe says the demand Studio West saw for its new stage encouraged the company to move forward with further expansion. In the first half of 2023, Studio West will begin construction on a fifth stage of over 26,000 square feet.
“Auckland’s film industry is only as important as the number of studios, facilities and crews we have to service projects,” says Howe. “So while there are other studios here in Auckland – and some of them are also expanding – we really feel that we are all growing together to make New Zealand a bigger and better hub. better.”