Australia

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Overview and productions

Australia’s low Covid caseload during the pandemic led to its unprecedented demand as a shooting location, and production was always likely to tail off once the rest of the world opened up.

 

Nevertheless, the country remains an attractive destination for international productions, with Ausfilm fielding enquiries for $1.04bn (a$1.4bn) worth of production in the six months to early March 2022. “We are back in an environment that’s hugely competitive and are still seeing the benefits of strong incentives,” says Ausfilm CEO Kate Marks.

 

The second season of NBCUniversal’s La Brea was the first booking at Docklands Studios Melbourne’s soundstage six, which opened in March, adding 60% to the controlled shooting space available. La Brea’s original season, along with Paramount Tele­vision’s Shantaram, and Net­flix’s Clickbait were among clients in 2021. Victoria state will also host Apple’s reimagining of Metropolis.

 

Asked about any long-term pandemic impacts, Docklands Studios CEO Antony Tulloch, most recently operations boss at Iskandar Malaysia Studios, referred to the accelerated uptake of virtual production and other technologies and to less-traditional industry sectors combining forces. “Workflows are shifting and companies that have supplied live entertainment and games have found an uptake in the industry,” he says. Working Title’s feature Ticket To Paradise, Peacock and Net­flix Australia’s crime drama Irreverent and season two of NBC’s Young Rock checked out of Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios in early 2022. But the studio will host the sequel to Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla Vs Kong this year, and the Disney+ show Nautilus will film there until December.

 

 

Series for streamers dominate the booking form now that Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis moved out of Village Roadshow in mid-2021 — Warner Bros’ blockbuster is likely to get a 40% rebate because it is Australian-made according to local rules. Elvis will premiere this year in Cannes along with George Miller’s Three Thousand Years Of Longing, which shot in Australia back in late 2020.

 

“We are well-known internationally but, with all the streamers coming in, there have been some new clients,” says Village Roadshow Studios president Lynne Benzie. “When they get here on the ground, they’re blown away by the nature of what the crews can do. A lot say to me they are the best in the world.”

Fox Studios Australia and, consequently, Sydney film workers have had some bad luck since Shang Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings and Thor: Love And Thunder finished their shoots. HBO cancelled production on the Natalie Portman-starrer Days Of Abandonment just a week before filming was to begin, while Netflix moved Extraction 2 to Prague in August/September 2021.

 

The studio was still empty as of March, but the Walt Disney Company receives considerable revenue from the companies based at the facility.

Federal filming incentives are competitive but not straightforward. All eligible foreign productions can claim a 16.5% tax rebate on local expenditure through the territory’s Location Offset, but the 13.5% Location Incentive grant is not available to all — the state film agencies act as the trigger after checking studio and crew availability, so should be the first point of call.

 

In the year to June 30, 2021, the government provided $73.8m (a$99.6m) in grants for 13 productions via the Location Incentive, and $74m (a$101m) in rebates went to 45 projects, via the Location and Post, Digital & Visual Effects offsets. 

 

Crew and infrastructure

Australia’s three east coast studios are internationally renowned. Village Roadshow Studios and Fox Studios Australia each have nine soundstages and Docklands Studios Melbourne has six. There are smaller facilities elsewhere. National capacity depends on project size. Cameras rolled on 10 major international features and series in the 12 months to June 30, 2021 — alongside local production. 

 

This large number brought crewing issues, exacerbated by internal border closures. Generally, though, there is enough crew to go around, as well as world-class heads of department, experienced Australian television directors and excellent local service producers, including Anne Bruning, Julie Forster, Jennifer Cornwell, Dean Wood and Naomi Cleaver.

Locations

Australia remains a complete package: quality infrastructure, diverse locations, and experienced can-do technicians — along with a great lifestyle.

Size matters

Visitors from the US probably take the size of Australia’s land mass in their stride but not Europeans. Longdistance train services are poor, and it takes nine hours from Sydney to Melbourne and longer to Brisbane by car. Planes, however, are efficient. The Sydney and Melbourne studios sit in the heart of their cities; Village Roadshow is in Queensland’s thriving Gold Coast area with two international airports less than an hour away.

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