Entertainment, film and television

New Zealand is a great place to shoot and produce a film, television programme or other screen production.  Buddle Findlay offers a full spectrum of services to assist with New Zealand based productions.


If you are thinking of filming or producing a screen production in New Zealand, then we have a wide range of experts that can assist you.  These include lawyers experienced in commercial agreements, financing and tax, intellectual property (including copyright and trade marks), employment, health and safety, and real estate/property.  We are familiar with the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG), and the ways to structure productions to comply with the NZSPG requirements and achieve maximum New Zealand tax efficiency.

We work with other advisers (eg accountants, insurers, and health and safety consultants) that are also familiar with the screen sector and the relevant regimes.  We are also very used to working with law firms in other jurisdictions and can successfully manage the inputs required from a multi-disciplinary international team to ensure successful project outcomes.

How we can help

We advise on all aspects of film and television productions including:

Production, licence and distribution contracts

  • Assisting with all forms of production related contracts, including those with cast, crew, writers, composers, and artists, as well as access and location agreements and clearances
  • Checking that production templates are appropriate for the production and consistent with New Zealand law
  • Assisting with establishing production and E&O insurance
  • Advising on licensing and distribution agreements, including licences to New Zealand and Australia broadcasts and SVOD providers, and rest of world distribution arrangements.

Government support

  • Assisting with access to appropriate Government funding and support including through the New Zealand Film Commission, and advising on the relevant criteria and application requirements.

Employment issues/ use of  independent contractors

  • Advising on the Screen Industry Workers Bill
  • Advising on a full range of employment issues, including drafting and negotiating employment agreements and contracts for services, advice and representation in collective bargaining, and assisting in the resolution of personal grievances and other disputes.


  • Advising on a full range of property issues including drafting and negotiating film studio development leases, leases for studios, access licences, access agreements and property licences for studio space and filming locations.

Project financing and tax

  • Structuring and negotiating financing for productions with grant funders and third party financiers
  • Advising on tax efficient financing.

Intellectual property

  • Advising on all IP aspects, including clearance of rights, chain of title, licensing of third party IP for use in productions, and IP protection.

Work highlights

Advising on a production of a popular US television series

for a major US broadcaster that was filmed in Queenstown.  Among other aspects, our advice ensured that the production was structured to meet the requirements of the US parties as well as the NZSPG, and was tax efficient; we designed the structure to ensure NZ Goods and Services tax (15%) was refunded instead of being a deadweight cost.  This made the production as cost effective as possible. (Among many other things, we also helped secure the ability to build and use an outside spa pool at Cadrona Ski field)

Advising the producers of Grand Designs New Zealand

one of New Zealand's most popular television programmes, which is now in its seventh season and distributed throughout the world.  The production challenges around this programme are unique, with production following house builds for many months and sometimes years.  Our advice has helped the producers to navigate potential issues around health and safety, and clearances (eg where a building project is sold)

Advising clients on the Screen Industry Workers Bill

which is expected to be introduced in 2023, and provides for a workplace relations framework that will provide clarity about the employment status of people doing screen production work, introduce a duty of good faith and mandatory terms for contracting relationships in the industry, allow collective bargaining at the occupation and enterprise levels, and create processes for resolving disputes arising from contracting relations or collective bargaining 

Advising on a number of reality television productions

made for both New Zealand and international audiences including Ex on the Beach (Peak edition), MasterChef New Zealand, My Kitchen Rules, Heartbreak Island (filmed in Fiji) and HOMEmade

Advising on the outside broadcast and production aspects of key international rugby matches played in New Zealand

(including All Black Tests and Super Rugby), which are successfully produced by Sky Television notwithstanding various challenges, the latest of which has been the impacts of Covid (which caused cancellations and rescheduling of matches)

Advising on a number of factual television productions

including productions filmed at various international locations including Rachel Hunter's Tour of Beauty and K & K's Kitchen Diplomacy, as well as productions filmed in Australia and New Zealand like in Wild Life at the Zoo and SPCA Animal Rescue

Our team

Allan Yeoman

Partner, Auckland

Allan is a partner in Buddle Findlay's Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) team. He specialises in providing…

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Hamish Selby

Partner, Auckland

Hamish specialises in intellectual property and leads the Buddle Findlay intellectual property team…

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Peter Chemis

Partner, Wellington

Peter specialises in employment law, industrial relations and related areas, and leads Buddle Findlay’s national employment team…

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Philip Wood

Partner, Auckland

Philip specialises in providing commercial, IT, telecommunication, media and television/film sector advice including strategic advice…

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Tony Wilkinson

Partner, Auckland

Tony has a highly regarded practice acting for public and private sector clients. He is the lead tax advisor for Buddle Findlay’s most…

Email Tony Wilkinson