With Fort Dorset in Seatoun one of the main locations for filming Peter Jackson's $360 million Lord of the Rings trilogy, many crew, including the stars need homes in the area. Demand for houses has meant numerous homeowners in sought after properties have moved out of their homes so they can be rented to film crew. Flyers have been placed in many eastern Wellington letterboxes, by Three Foot Six Ltd, accommodation coordinators for Lord of the Rings, wanting homes to rent. Lord of the Rings publicist Claire Raskind says the film is unusually long so actors and film crew need comfortable accommodation. "It's important people feel like they have a home" she says.
She says cast and crew, come and go, so accommodation requirements are constantly changing. "We have a rotating base of homes for people."
She says they are still looking for "executive properties", particularly ones with a sea view or location. LJ Hooker property manager Giles Kidman says he cannot get enough "big homes" with a capacity for entertaining. He has a list of clients waiting for rental properties in the top price bracket. "Wellington is really on the increase, people are getting transfers, the city is really booming with what it has to offer."
He says sea and coast views are in big demand because that is what New Zealand has promoted overseas as being. He says that while furnished homes for rent are popular, white-ware is particularly important, as buying appliances is more of a problem than furniture.
"If it was something nice then they would pay the price. Tenants today have changed, they're willing to pay a little bit more and they usually shift around to find what they want." With the extra demand for homes, he says rental prices in areas like Miramar have increased.
"People are looking for houses in Miramar anyway, so there is added pressure on the area [with filming]. I'd say that, because of the pressure, they [prices] are coming back up to what they should be."
Leaders Kilbirnie manager Craig Oliver says many of the high price properties he knows of have been rented out directly to the film company rather than going through an agent. He says it is not unusual to hear of $900 rent a week being charged for Roseneath homes. Gone are the days of exorbitant rents, most will only pay market rent for houses he says. While the exact number of crew needing homes is unknown, finding houses is a full time job, says Ms Raskind. She says the Wellington community has really welcomed everybody.
"The people of Wellington have been great, especially with confidentiality issues and the production crew really appreciate that."
The rent quoted in the article is 3 to 4 times the normal average rent! Yay for big budgets!