As New Zealand’s screen industry returns to normal, Auckland-based Studio West production facility is unveiling what will be the city’s largest purpose-built sound stage.
A regular base for both local and international production for the past 25 years, Studio West began developing its expansion as early as 2019, but construction was halted for an entire year during the most difficult phases of the pandemic.
“In April 2021, I would say we were very brave to start building again,” said Kay Howe, CEO of Studio West. “But now everything looks very good. We are ready to open our doors, and New Zealand film and TV production is on the rise again. It was an exciting journey to get here.”
Located in the Glen Eden area of Auckland, Studio West covers eight acres and has three pre-existing sound stages (3,315 square feet, 5,650 square feet, and 7,530 square feet), production and site offices, production, cloakroom, laundromat, green rooms, hair and make-up areas. However, the new phase – called Studio 4 – will give the facility a significant boost. The building adds 16,236 square feet of open production and post-production offices, and a state-of-the-art soundstage of 36,570 square feet.
“We’ve long heard from the international industry that Auckland could use more stage space,” said Jasmine Millet, manager of Screen Auckland, the regional government-backed film agency that advocates for the industry. “So it’s exciting to see Studio West grow from a studio that can support location-based productions very well to one that can also be a home for larger-scale projects – the ones that have to build quite a bit.”
“I definitely see it as a need that we’ve felt in Auckland for a long time,” added Millet.
Studio West has already booked its first project for Stage 4. Periodic 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 Auckland’s growing spending on world-class production facilities, which in recent years has attracted projects including Disney’s Mulan to Warner Bros the Mego, along with a slew of series production for streamers. New Zealand’s generous production incentives and diverse natural beauty have always been the main draw for international shoots, but Auckland’s reputation for a strong crew and rapidly improving technical capabilities have once again made the region a world-class competitive manufacturing hub. The city’s Kumeu Film Studios expanded its offerings in 2017 and now features the largest indoor dive tank in the Southern Hemisphere, a 43,055 square foot warehouse space, and two 24,650 square foot purpose-built stages. Nearby X3 Studios also offers numerous and flexible purpose-built stages.
Howe says the demand Studio West has seen for its new stage has encouraged the company to continue with further expansion. In the first half of 2023, Studio West will start construction on a fifth phase of more than 26,000 square meters.
“The Auckland film industry is only as big as the number of studios, facilities and crew we have to service projects,” says Howe. “So, while there are other studios here in Auckland – and some of them are expanding too – we really feel like we’re growing hand in hand to make New Zealand a bigger and better hub.”