NZ government assured Jackson on Hobbit visas
According to documents released under the Official Information Act, the New Zealand government told filmmaker Peter Jackson that it would intervene to solve any possible visa problems connected to the filming of Hobbit.
During a meeting in September 2010 with the Screen Production and Development Association (Spada) and the country’s Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson, Sir Peter was assured that the government would step in and override any unwanted decisions by the Actors Equity.
At this time, any film company wanting to employ workers from abroad needed a letter from the relevant union. The Actors Equity could then veto visas for any job it felt could be done by local workers.
After Sir Peter raised concerns about this on at least two occasions, Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee reassured the filmmaker that the government would make the final decision. He added that they would support all casting decision and not allow the unions to choose who can and cannot enter the country.
It is well know that the government could take such action in special circumstances, but it is quite unusual to come across such blanket assurances. The visa process for film productions has since changed to a “silent” one, where the unions do not vet every application but can object within three days of a form being received.
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