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End of the line for Park Road Post

Friday 29 Mar 2013 6:11 p.m.

After more than 70 years of processing film, Park Road Post's film laboratory is wrapping up for good - with the loss of twelve jobs.

Owner Sir Peter Jackson says he was forced to make the difficult decision because the film industry is going digital.

Nicknamed 'The Last Lab Standing', the laboratory is where Brian Scadden has processed hundreds and hundreds of film negatives. When it closes in June, his 36-year career at the factory will end.

"[It's] absolutely gutting, because we've got such a dedicated team here, people who've been in here - probably not quite as long as me, but some of them are getting pretty close to that - and this is their whole life really...as far as working life," says Mr Scadden.

The film lab began as the government-owned national film unit, and in 1999 Sir Peter and partner Fran Walsh bought it for Park Road Post.

It's played a part in many of New Zealand's most successful movies.

But it's expensive, at a dollar per foot of film stock.

Processing the Lord of the Rings trilogy cost $7 million, which few filmmakers nowadays can afford.

"If you're shooting digitally...once you've got your camera, once you've got your memory card or memory stick then really there's no cost, or very little, and that's one thing that's driving people away from film and more toward digital."

Kodak and Fuji are the world's largest producers of film stock, but because filmmakers are using digital more and more, Fuji's already stopped and Kodak's future is in doubt.

It means labs like this are closing down worldwide - there's only one left in Australia.

Directors Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland used the lab to develop the film of their award winning movie Shopping.

"We will really miss getting film to shoot on in New Zealand and getting it developed at Park Road Post, which is around the corner," say the directors. "If we have to go to Australia or Asia it will completely change the cost."

A spokesman for Sir Peter says shutting down the lab's been a tough decision because he's one of the biggest film geeks in the world.

But he has no choice because whether we like it or not, digital moviemaking's now playing the leading role.

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