March over The Hobbit

More than 1000 film technicians have marched through Wellington to voice concern over the future of the Hobbit films.

The actors' union, New Zealand Actors' Equity, have been in dispute with Peter Jackson's production company over the Hobbit films, leading to worry they will not be shot in New Zealand.

The Hobbit films, a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, are expected to cost about $US500 million (NZ$669m) to make, the most expensive ever, and will be filmed in 3-D. They will be directed by Sir Peter Jackson.

The technicians had tonight intended to protest outside a planned meeting by the Actors' Equity union, which was to discuss "new industry standards" as it seeks a collective agreement for actors. It has asked its members to boycott the two Hobbit films.

The head of Weta Worshop, Sir Richard Taylor, tonight met with film technicians in Wellington to discuss the future of the films.

Sir Richard said that when the actors cancelled the meeting, aborting the protest, the technicians instead chose to march through the streets of Wellington, ending up at the cenotaph near Parliament.

"Everyone gathered felt that they had done their part in assuring the New Zealand film industry that they care passionately about seeing the Hobbit made in New Zealand and that the industry as a whole should be left as it is for the successful and ongoing future of film making in New Zealand."

In an earlier statement, Sir Richard said he saw the New Zealand film industry "at some level of peril" and told TVNZ there was a mood of "great concern".

"Wellington film technicians want to be heard. They want to be represented in these very bizarre and strange events that are going on right now."

"The producers are doing all that they can to retain the film here in New Zealand.

"By the actions of a very limited few, a huge fraternity of film makers, technicians, and artists will be affected."

Although the shooting of the film was given the go ahead by Warner Brothers at the weekend, whether it will be filmed in New Zealand is still in doubt.

Actors' Equity is seeking a collective agreement and asking its members to boycott the film, although it has not received the full support of actors.

Sir Peter Jackson has refused to meet with the union.

- with the Dominion Post and NZPA