Wellington Paranormal - the region as a character

The New Zealand hit comedy series, now in its third season, has used over 100 different locations in Wellington to bring its stories to life

Wellington Paranormal police officers standing in laneway

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

The comedy spinoff series from 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 the entirety of its three seasons out of Avalon Studios, Wellington Paranormal has worked with Screen Wellington to film at about 100 locations in the region – managing to secure iconic Wellington sites including the Cuba Street Bucket Fountain, Mt Victoria Tunnel, Pencarrow Heads in Wairarapa, without the need for red tape.

Screen Wellington essentially gave us the keys to the city.

Paul Yates, Producer

Wellington Paranormal Credit Sean Collier behind the scenes crew filming two police officers on street
Wellington Paranormal two police officers standing at the entrance to tunnel in front of sign
Wellington Paranormal police officer on beach in front of tent

Location filming made easy

Screen Wellington has worked with Wellington Paranormal, and their location manager David Goldthorpe, to give them 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 Mt Victoria Tunnel (Wellington’s main arterial road out 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 pedestrian access through from the Basin Reserve through to Hataitai we ran a shuttle, even for cyclists and walking pedestrians and we would open the roads while we weren’t shooting. So, we’d have stop/go and cars would still have 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 the relationships with councils and private organisations and connect you to the people you need to sign off on what your production needs.

In the studio

Based out of Avalon Studios for all three series, roughly 80% of filming locations were within 10-15 minutes' drive from the studio.

In the latest series of the show, the Wellington Paranormal production team has also been able to use the latest in film technology, Virtual Production.

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

Speaking about the latest technology in Wellington, Paul says it’s not only a saving in cost for production, with less post-production time, it’s gives more believability than using green screen, as they can add live light casting backdrops onto the set 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.”

Wellington Paranormal behind the scenes crew filming green car pulled over by police officer
Wellington Paranormal  vampire in cemetery standing in front of a gravestone
Wellington Paranormal two police officers standing in front of police car and Mt Cook Police Barracks building
Wellington Paranormal three police officer actors talking with director

There pretty much hasn't been a location we haven't be able to get at if it's required in the story.

Paul Yates, Wellington Paranormal Producer

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