Tight 5 with Kahli Scott

3 minutes read
Posted 30 April, 2024
Kahli on Glacier 2 copy

by Rosie Fea

For Kahli Scott, storytelling is everything. As the manager of Film Queenstown Lakes, (the in-house film office for Queenstown Lakes District Council), as well as co-manager of Film Otago Southland, the wonderful world of shared stories is what she knows best - both in front of the screen, and what goes on behind it. Her job involves supporting the industry in the district and wider region by providing facilitation support to incoming productions, promoting the district as a filming location, and strategically developing the local industry and its talent. Kahli has worked in various jobs within creative industries over the years, forever on a mission to prove how creativity can be an economic driver and contributor to community well-being.

1. Do you remember the film that changed it all for you?
It’s more of a film set… I remember visiting the set of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when it was filming on the Gold Coast in Queensland, where I grew up. It was my first experience visiting a big film set and seeing the magic that goes on behind the scenes. I was fascinated by the artistry, craft and labour that goes into making movies and I knew that I’d love to be involved in the industry in some way. Interestingly, the Narnia films had also filmed in New Zealand, where I ended up living and working, so it all comes full circle.

2. For you, what is it about the South Island that makes worlds of fiction and film feel so inspired?

It’s the landscapes. Our landscapes look and feel unreal, so they’re ready-made for fiction and storytelling – they’re a character of their own, as I constantly hear filmmakers say. The region has developed a reputation for playing the role of other-worlds, from Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings to a sci-fi planet in Alien: Covenant. But it’s also been interesting to see the reverse happen recently, with our locations starting to ‘play themselves’ in locally-set stories, like One Lane Bridge, Under the Vines and the TV series filming at the moment, called A Remarkable Place to Die.

3. Favourite line from a movie, and why it’s stuck with you?

This seems cliché to pick a Lord of the Rings quote, but one of my favourite quotes has always been Aragorn’s line to the hobbits at the end of Return of the King: “My friends, you bow to no one.” I’m a real sucker for an underdog story, and I think LOTR is ultimately an underdog story, which is perfectly encapsulated in that line and scene. I actually think New Zealand’s specialty is underdog stories.

4. As a town / region renowned for film opportunity, where would you like to see it all head next?
There’s been a real uptick in original content being made in the region, created by filmmakers who are either based here or have a connection to the place. I’d love to see more of this ‘homegrown’ content being made here. But it would also be great to keep that international production coming to town, too. Ideally these two sides of the industry would co-exist and thrive here, and be a source of sustainable career pathways for locals.

5. Any words for the future generation of aspiring filmmakers in this town? What have you yourself learned working with many of the greats over the years?
Think outside the box about what unique contribution you can make to the industry. Those of us who love film often default to the director, actor or screenwriter pathways, but there are other unique career opportunities in the industry that suit different skills – like costume, location management, production accounting, set construction, visual effects, marketing, even this government-industry liaison space that I work in. Filmmaking is all about collaboration and needs people of all kinds – and once you’re part of a creative ecosystem, opportunities tend to open up.


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