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‘Wellington Paranormal’, created by New Zealand film and TV greats Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement and Paul Yates, has transformed Wellington into a character of its own. It showcases the best of the region on the small screen.

The comedy spinoff series from the cult classic ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ follows police duo O’Leary and Minogue as they tackle the supernatural forces plaguing Wellington.

Having filmed all four seasons out of Avalon Studios, ‘Wellington Paranormal’ has worked with Screen Wellington to film at about 100 locations in the region. The series managed to secure iconic Wellington sites including the Cuba Street bucket fountain, Mount Victoria Tunnel and Pencarrow Heads in Wairarapa without the need for red tape.

“Screen Wellington essentially gave us the keys to the city.”

Paul Yates, producer

Location filming made easy

Screen Wellington has worked with ‘Wellington Paranormal’ and its location manager David Goldthorpe to provide access to the city and region to bring their stories to life.

In season one, the production team wanted to use the backdrop of the Mount Victoria Tunnel (Wellington’s main arterial road to the airport) to bring a ghost story to life.

Paul explains: “We sort of thought, there’s no way we’re going to get access to the Mt Vic tunnel and maybe we’ll have to rebuild it in studio, but we approached Screen Wellington and found a way.”

“For pedestrians needing access from the Basin Reserve to Hataitai, we ran a shuttle, even for cyclists and pedestrians we would open the roads while we weren’t shooting. We had stop/go and cars still had access to what is a major traffic route to the airport for Wellington.”

The benefit of working with Screen Wellington to secure these sites is that you’re not starting from scratch, Paul says.

Screen Wellington has relationships with councils and private organisations and can connect you to the people you need to sign off on production needs.

Film crew filming in a green field for Wellington Paranormal. Actors are police man and farmer.

In the studio

Based out of Avalon Studios for all four series, about 80% of filming locations were within 10 to 15 minutes’ drive from the studio.

In the latest series, the ‘Wellington Paranormal’ production team was able to use the latest in film technology, Virtual Production.

Working with Streamliner Productions, which also works out of Avalon Studios, the team used LED screens to produce a scene where a vehicle crashed through the side of a building, off a motorway off-ramp.

Speaking about the latest technology in Wellington, Paul says it’s a saving in cost with less post-production time. It also gives more believability than using a green screen because live light casting backdrops onto the set can be added as well.

“One of the main reasons I love filming in Wellington is that I live here, I’ve lived here for about 25 years now.

“So obviously I want to work close to home and that’s easy because we have the facility to create stories, create ideas and film them in a region that provides any kind of backdrop. Either an LED screen if you need to manufacture something, or forests, farms, mountains, downtown city scenes - it’s all here in Wellington.”