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Pirates of the Caribbean – behind the scenes

Pirates of the CaribbeanKFTV goes behind the scenes of Disney’s adventure movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, which was based at Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland. 

Australia has had great success hosting a series of big-budget Hollywood productions in recent years, from Dwayne Johnson’s earthquake disaster movie San Andreas through to Marvel’s superhero follow-up Thor: Ragnarok. 

“There was a variety of reasons Australia was chosen,” says Gareth Price, the location manager on Pirates of the Caribbean, in comments to KFTV. “Firstly – but not most importantly – the federal government incentives were very attractive. Giving the production a solid rebate gave the ability to gain more spend on the screen.

“State government [support was] a factor due to the rebate and spend. However, where to film was a state-by-state elimination, trying to find a balance between studio space and proximity to locations that would suit the film.”

Hollywood productions tend to base themselves either in Queensland or further south in Sydney. In Queensland producers have access to nine stages and water tank facilities at Village Roadshow Studios, or in New South Wales where Fox Studios Australia has similar facilities.

For more on filming in Australia and for local contacts see our production guide.

Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror movie Alien: Covenant was a recent high-profile visitor to Sydney.

“We used practically every facility the studios had to offer from every one of the stages to the tanks,” says Price of the Pirates of the Caribbean shoot. 

Rather than film at sea, the Pirates production team built ship sets on specialised gimbals.

“After four [Pirates movies], it was decided that the most practical way to shoot nine ships was to build two huge exterior green screens that formed our ‘ship arenas’. That way we could be filming on one of the massive gimbals while the other gimbal was [in the process of] being built on. Sometimes it worked where we could film on two ships at the same time.

Pirates of the Caribbean“Most of the ships were filmed on a disused golf course five minutes away from the studio, which was the ‘ship arena’. However, elements of ships were built on the sound stages.”

Around a third of the movie was shot on location outside the studio setting, with the remote and pristine Whitehaven Beach among the most striking.

“When you are working on a location that is as sensitive as Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, we go above and beyond to make sure we have all the resources to literally leave it as we found it,” Price tells KFTV. 

“Working closely with the local Aboriginal owners – and the national parks who look after it on their behalf – our relationship was very close and with careful planning made it one of the more satisfying places I’ve ever worked.”

Images: Peter Mountain/Disney Enterprises


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