Mark Taylor is confident Auckland’s post-production talent and technical capability will continue to play a starring role on screens around the world.
Mark is Senior Post Supervisor at Department of Post, a state-of-the-art film and television post-production facility in central Auckland, that as well as serving Kiwi productions, has Hollywood knocking on its door.
Department of Post was purpose-built to be high speed and high spec. We're basically trying to match Hollywood. So, when a producer comes down here from LA, they can walk into a room and know that they're getting the top-notch gear and the top-notch artists
Department of Post’s top-notch gear includes over 4km of fibre optic network, providing super quick data speeds to every room in the facility, including suites for editing, colour grading, sound design and visual effects, along with two cinema-sized theatres for screening/colour grading and sound mixing.
Since moving into the impressive three-storey complex in 2017, Mark says Department of Post has worked on a diverse range of productions, for both television and the big screen.
“Our team of 20 is kept busy with a wide variety of projects. This year we’ve worked on soon to be released Kiwi films Baby Done, Reunion and Six60: Till the lights go out. Now, we’re wrapping post-production on Balance of the Five Elements – a feature-length documentary co-produced by New Zealand and German production companies and shot in China. It's a great example of remote collaboration.”
Mark says Department of Post’s technical capability and capacity for remote collaboration meant the team was able to navigate New Zealand’s initial nationwide COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown well.
Prior to the pandemic we were already focusing on remote workflows to target overseas clientele. This meant we had systems up and running that enabled us to move off site quite quickly and keep the ball rolling for our clients.
However, Mark explains that keeping post-production going throughout the nationwide lockdown and more recently, Auckland’s Alert Level 3 lockdown, went beyond business.
“Being well established with remote workflows, we spent a fair bit of time reaching out to our friends in the film and television industry to see how we could help – moving edit suites off site and sending footage around the world. It wasn’t just for us, it was for them as well.”
Mark believes that in business, it’s important to keep an open mind as problems can often become strengths.
“COVID-19 has really challenged the screen industry but at Department of Post, we’re looking for ways to turn negatives into positives. It’s forced us to push our remote collaboration a little bit further, to push our equipment a little bit harder, and now the rewards are paying off.”
Mark says pushing the boundaries of Department of Post’s offering has seen new doors open.
“In the current climate, we’re getting a lot of enquiries from overseas. We’re running test audiences for multiple feature films back in LA because they can’t, due to social distancing. So, with a lot of high-tech security in place, we have an audience in our theatre and run a live feed to America. Over there, 12 producers are watching the audience in real-time and re-cutting based on its reaction.”
Mark says the set-up at Department of Post complements Auckland’s thriving screen production sector, which sees domestic and international productions filmed around Tāmaki Makaurau and cast and crew enjoying all the region has to offer.
“A lot of the content that is filmed in New Zealand is currently being shot around the Auckland area. We provide a facility near set where productions can drop of their dailies and do a temporary grade or move into the full finishing process. We also provide on set services. Auckland is increasingly seen as a screen destination, where you can work and play as well.”
While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown has taken a toll on the screen industry worldwide, Mark says Auckland is well-positioned to not only bounce back but excel.
“Large international players like Netflix and Amazon Studios need more and more content and they’re reaching out to all corners of the globe. Auckland is perfectly positioned to deliver. We’re managing COVID-19, we collaborate well, we’ve got the infrastructure, the brains, and the tech. We’re good to go.”