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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, Screen Wellington pulled out all the stops, collaborating with local company Helipro to show the production team Wellington's scenery. The case was made and the director and location scout were convinced Wellington was perfect for their job.
The commercials required several road closures and approval to film from low-flying helicopters on a number of weeknights. Screen 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 Screen Wellington and the economic benefits of commercials increased significantly.
Filming occurred 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 Screen 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.