To help your production run smoothly, please review the guidelines below for tips on how to film in Wellington on a budget. Remember to submit your paperwork early to avoid problems.
State Highways and Public Roads
Any filming on a road requires professional Traffic Management which is unaffordable for many low budget/student film productions. This includes closing footpaths, lanes or stop/go (lollipop) Traffic Management (eg road works).
To close a road (to other users), takes 4-6 weeks and Council costs and Traffic Management charges apply. We advise you to be creative to find a way to ‘cheat’ your shot so that it appears that you are filming on the road by using a private road (such as on a campus or in a business complex) or a private car park.
Public locations consist of parks, beaches, regional parks, the waterfront, cemeteries and playing fields/sports grounds but also include the Wellington Zoo, Civic Square, Botanical Gardens, Newtown Park Stadium and any municipal and Council owned buildings. All of these require a film permit and the Footpath Guidelines apply.
Please note that most Council locations charge fees, but Film Wellington requests that fees are waived or discounted for low budget and low impact productions.
Geoff Murphy and Phil Burchell discuss a tracking shot on the NZ Film School's Crew 22's first major shoot
Photo credit: Jesse Moriarty
To film on any footpath or in a public space requires a film permit (as above). Depending on the area to be used and numbers of people present on set a pedestrian Traffic Management plan may be required and Footpath Guidelines apply.
There are specific safety concerns associated with filming on the footpath. In the past, pedestrians have stepped out onto the road to avoid film crews, which is a safety hazard.
You can request parking for the essential technical vehicles being used during your shoot—a lighting truck, grip truck, etc. Please use the film permit application form and specify the number of spaces required, the type of parking zone and where it is located. Note: please try to avoid requesting ‘Resident,’ ‘Loading Zone’ or ‘Mobility’ parking.
The use of private business and residential locations needs to be negotiated directly (by you) with the property owners. It is a good idea to have a written agreement with your private location owner to avoid any misinterpretation or miscommunication, which can result in disagreements later.
Well-known Wellington memorials such as the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, National War Memorial and Massey Memorial among others are sacred symbols of remembrance. These memorials cannot appear in any film projects unless by prior arrangement with the respective memorial managers or families.
It goes without saying if you light a fire that’s not in a fireplace, you will need a fire permit. Ideally allow at least a week for this process. For more information about fire permits please check out Wellington City Council Fire Management.
Filming in public places requires public liability insurance (if you are a student, check if your school policy covers you). Under common law, it is the obligation of every individual/company to carry out their business activities without causing injury to other persons or damage to property owned by others. In other words, if you don’t have public liability insurance and something happens, you will have to pay to cover the damages.
Public liability insurance is available to the individual or company and can be an extension of your existing personal insurance cover. It is possible to purchase a short-term policy for the duration of your shoot, so weigh those costs against a year of cover.
Another idea is to take out a policy covering a group of filmmakers which can reduce costs and covers everyone in the group.
Here is a list of smaller/lower cost facilities in the Wellington region:
Everest Studios: www.everestnz.com
Island Bay Studios: www.islandbaystudios.co.nz
Studio 62: www.studio62.co.nz
If your film involves violence, blood or wound FX, sexual or simulated sexual activity, firearms, weapons (real or fake) or NZ Police uniforms you must obtain the necessary film permits and inform Police prior to filming. Failure to do this may result in your personal injury, your production being shut down and/or possible prosecution.
To notify Police contact the Police Communications Centre 04 381-2000 minimum 2 hours prior to filming.
Please note: There is a huge difference between prop weapons and real/imitation weapons. It is illegal to possess these types of firearms in public, even if you have a gun license holder present.
If in doubt, ask your tutor or the local Armourer or physical FX technician. There are several Wellington-based Armourers with film set experience. Useful reading can be found here.
To notify Police that you have a police character in your production (someone wearing a police uniform or a reasonable replica), contact the Media Liaison: 04 496-3464 several days before filming.
If you require exact uniforms and likeness of a NZ Police officer, Police can organise this for a fee but require several weeks lead time and will make a decision based upon the nature of the content of the film (among other factors).
Your production can be shut down by Noise Control if you are making excessive noise in residential areas (which includes the Wellington CBD) after 10pm. There are ways to avoid possible problems—in the winter, you can film ‘night scenes’ beginning at 6pm; use a silent generator; keep crew numbers down when shooting exteriors at night; use RT’s to communicate on set instead of shouting.
Film Wellington may recommend a letter drop in the area prior to shoot day and can assist you with this is required.