Big-budget TV series to boost local economy

We’re buzzing with the news that a big-budget action-thriller TV series called Vegas is set to be filmed in our backyard in the coming months.

The timing couldn’t be better as Vegas will employ around 40 local crew and 100 local extras and will inject several millions into the local economy.

This week, 20 previously out-of-work young people started a six-week pre-internship programme to learn the basics of behind the scenes film and television work. They’ll then go on to work as apprentices on the setfor 12 weeks.

Called Tohea, the pre-internship programme is funded by the Ministry of Social Development and the Provincial Growth Fund.

Vegas is a real example of the community coming together, with Auckland-based production company Greenstone TV collaborating with Rotorua-based Steambox Film Collective, and Michael Bennett’s 10,000 Company.

NZ on Air granted up to $5.68 million for the production, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust granted $70,000 to Film Bay of Plenty for capacity building and Rotorua Economic Development granted $30,000.

Harriet Crampton, the producer and co-creator of Vegas, says Greenstone is really excited to be shooting in the region and hopes this will be the first of many productions to film in the Bay of Plenty.

“The screen industry is growing fast in New Zealand. It makes complete sense for our government funding agencies to provide employment opportunities and career paths for those outside the main centres. It’s a fantastic, hard-working and multi-skilled industry, and many of our young tangata whenua have been missing out on getting involved in this growth because of lack of exposure to local opportunities,” she says.

Rotorua-based Lara Northcroft of Steambox Film Collective, and the Associate Producer of Vegas, says as well, a wide range of sectors will benefit from the series being filmed in Rotorua – from accommodation, to on-set food, beverage and technical suppliers, transport companies, education providers and the large number of people who will be recruited as extras. 

The series is set as a fictional town and follows a young, untested leader who wants to free his people from the curse of methamphetamine but finds he can’t do it on his own (a story based on the novel, Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard).