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Alien producer calls for boosted Australia filming incentives

Alien CovenantA producer on Ridley Scott’s new sci-fi movie Alien: Covenant has called for an Australian filming incentive package that is more generous with greater long-term predictability.

Mark Huffam is one of Scott’s regular collaborators, having worked with the British filmmaker on The Martian, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Prometheus and The Counsellor.

Alien: Covenant (pictured) is currently filming with a base at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney and is being supported by Australia’s filming incentive package, including a 16.5% Location Offset and a separate standalone payment that lifts the incentive figure closer to 30%. 

However, Huffam revealed the country is difficult to think of as a viable location for film projects two or three years down the line because the support programme is too unpredictable. Movies are not always awarded the crucial standalone payment support, whereas in the UK and Canada the basic tax credit support is immediately higher than in Australia.

“In the planning for the studios Australia’s on the list, but it’s always below those territories because the credit’s not reliable and 16.5% is just not competitive,” Huffam told the Australian Business Review.

Huffam added that a boosted filming incentive package would help bring more international productions to Australia, which in turn would help grow the country’s crew base, as it has done in the UK.

“The other great thing about the [film] industry is it’s such an efficient trainer,” Huffam added. “It’s reasonably ruthless in that things happen in a short space of time and if young people have any aptitude, they generally flourish. If you can have a sustainable industry which is growing, you’ll just grow the workforce with it rapidly.”

The Australian government has long been under pressure to boost the Location Offset, and indeed the one-off payment system was first introduced as an officially short-term political compromise. 

The compromise has had its fair share of successes over the past few years with the likes of San Andreas and Pirates of the Caribbean 5. However, Ridley Scott’s own sci-fi survival drama The Martian was a notable loss for the country, having originally been planned as an Australian shoot before eventually choosing Budapest as a base. More predictable filming incentives will be a pragmatic goal for the coming years.

For more on filming in Australia see our production guide.

Image: Mark Rogers/Twentieth Century Fox


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