At the end of May 2009, Wellington was chosen as the location for two ads promoting US telecomms company, US Cellular. With an ambitious brief calling for helicopter shoots, monstrous creatures and a street party atmosphere, Film Wellington pulled out all the stops collaborating with local company Helipro, to promote the Capital as film friendly as well as scenic, stunning and party central. The case was made and the director and location scout were convinced Wellington was perfect for their job.
With the deal won it was time for the real work to begin. The ads required several road closures and approval to film from low-flying helicopters on several weeknights. Film Wellington got on the front foot to inform the public through media releases about the upcoming filming. Publicity included a front-page article on the ads as well and several radio interviews. The results were two–fold: There were no public concerns about the helicopters and the public awareness of Film Wellington and the economic benefits of commercials increased significantly.
Filming occured over two days and three nights and the crew reported the local atmosphere was fantastic the whole time. Closing a residential street for a whole weekend and standing by while film crew take over your neighbourhood might cause chaos in some places but the residents of Abel Smith Street were over the moon. Not only that their street was able to host such a large production but that they saw it transformed, with tentacles crawling out of tower blocks and flying fish floating in the air. The international clients were delighted with the finished ads and praised Film Wellington and the willingness of Council to allow such filming.
“It’s so easy to be here [in Wellington] where filming is appreciated and encouraged. Everyone is so nice to deal with.” said the US ad agency client.
Between $700,000 and $1 million was spent in the Wellington region and the production contracted approximately 470 local residents as extras. Local businesses to benefit included screen industry companies as well as hotels, equipment and vehicle rentals, traffic management and catering.
Who was behind it?
Auckland’s Automatic Films, a top international production company working for a Director and Producer from a high profile Australian production-company and their US agency Publicic & Hal Riney were in charge of the production, for two commercials promoting US telecommunications company US Cellular.