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Why Australia’s billion-dollar film industry is back on track

When Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling became the latest actor to call Australia home this year, it confirmed that our billion-dollar film business was back on track after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. -19.

Yes, movies were still being made during the pandemic – think Russell Crowe Poker face in New South Wales and the romantic comedy of George Clooney and Julia Roberts ticket to paradise in Far North Queensland.

But now that we have the green light to take it to the next level, with the easing of restrictions and massive government incentives, production and film houses are sitting up and taking notice.

On Tuesday, the Federal Government announced that it had committed more than $400 million through the so-called “localization incentive” to attract 33 international productions to film in Australia.

This should generate $3 billion in private investment and create more than 21,000 jobs.

Gosling’s Project Alone – a Universal live-action feature film The fell guy, based on the 1980s TV series starring Lee Majors – expected to add over $244 million to the economy, employ 1,000 local cast and crew and another 3,000 Australian extras.

It is one of a series of big-budget film and TV projects set to be produced in Australia this year.

Queensland University of Technology’s Dr Sean Maher recognized as one of Australia’s leading film researchers, Told The new daily our homemade soapie Neighbors sparked the resurgence.

“It was celebrated as the first English-language program to resume production aided by COVID protocols,” Dr Maher said.

“It has sparked tremendous global interest in Australia and how it manages and facilitates production at all scales.

“Australia has a well-established reputation in the American industry and this is essential to promote the potential of the industry which is supported by our unique and diverse sites.”

Dr Maher said that AusFilm, a government body made up of private companies from the screen industry and supported by public film agencies, “a unique organization for which there is no equivalent in any country”, has “worked tirelessly” to attract international productions and promote Australia as a go-to destination for production and post-production.

“So every major Hollywood studio is acutely aware of what Australia has to offer, but at the same time we are competing in a truly global market,” he explained.

So what’s in the pipeline?

Let’s start with streaming giant Disney, which has committed to making nine new dramas and documentaries in Australia and New Zealand for release on Disney+ over the next 12 months.

There are three dramas including The meadowinspired by the real Australian cult The Family and its leader Anne Hamilton-Byrne, The clever dodgean eight-part series set in 1850s Australia based on Charles Dickens’ famous dodger, and Last days of the space agea comedy-drama set in the 1970s in which an American space station crashes near Perth.

“Disney is arguably the most creative storytelling engine in the world, and in this wave of local productions, we’ve fueled our creative processes in partnership with Australian production companies,” Disney’s Kylie Watson-Wheeler said on Tuesday in a statement.

“The opportunities are endless, especially in young adult comedies and romantic comedies, which our audience never tires of.”

Disney won’t put a figure on the overall budget for the new production slate, but notes it has funding from Screen Australia for one show, Australia Wreck Hunters, as well as money from the Western Australian Museum and the Government of Western Australia.

On Thursday, the Queensland Government announced Wizards!a feature-length comedy starring the American comedian and Saturday Night Live regular Pete Davidson (suicide squad), would be made locally, the first to be produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. That means jobs for 400 cast, crew and extras and $15 million in the economy.

Screen Queensland chief executive Kylie Munnich said securing Wizards! demonstrates that producers around the world know that filming in Queensland brings many benefits.

“Queensland is a world-renowned center of screen production, and Screen Queensland continuously showcases our state’s locations, studios, skilled workforce and valuable incentives,” said Ms. Munnich.

Then there’s Prime Video, which since 2019 has ordered 15 Amazon Original projects here worth $150 million (Deadloch, Luxury Listings Sydney Season 3 and Five blind datesto only cite a few).

Are we heading towards another golden age of cinema and television?

A quick glance at Screen Australia’s list of films, TV series and documentaries alone is enough to say, yes, the best is yet to come.

Arclight Films has released the first images of Crowe’s Poker face Wednesday, filmed entirely in New South Wales but set in the United States.

According to, NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin said the film was a ‘winning hand’ for the state’s ‘central’ film industry, creating 250 jobs and 17.7million dollars in production expenses.

However, Dr Maher says streaming services have been a game-changer in terms of content production and funding.

“This is partly due to the subscription model as well as the highly targeted audience appeal which can be measured through their algorithms and data analytics.

“International funding and partnerships with Australian content producers have seen a two-way flow of ideas and program creation, with Australian productions being adapted for American and international audiences – for example, shows like Animal Kingdom (the original 2010 film was made into an American drama series on TNT) and No activity (Stan) – to original local content that has attracted US and Australian co-funding, such as Harrow.

“The challenge now is the volume of content and the pipeline of production activities that spans years.

“Attracting funding for Australian content is one thing, but attracting and retaining audiences is more difficult than ever in the digital ‘attention economy’,” he said.

That aside, what about the economic benefits?

“It has long been claimed that so-called ‘runaway productions’ create a trickle-down effect and a multiplier effect in economic terms.

“For Australian crews and artists, there is an undeniable transfer of skills and exposure that can only come from big-budget productions that can reposition their careers on the global stage,” he said.

So why is Australia the preferred location?

Among the dozens of movie projects on the production line over the next 12 months are Disney+ Nautilus and one Godzilla vs. Kong sequel (expected to inject $79.2 million into the economy and create 505 jobs for the Queensland cast and crew, as well as opportunities for 750 extras).

Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast has been a hive of activity for several years, even during the COVID crisis.

President Lynne Benzie recounts The new daily the productions – in addition Elvis, which occupied the entire site – which enveloped include the Jessica Watson project, The Savages series 2, young rock 2, Irreverent, ticket to paradise and Straight, with Disney+ Nautilus series and feature film Origins in production until the end of this year.

“Productions are continuing under COVID protocol, with testing underway to ensure the safety of the crew and see a positive future for the film industry to continue to grow,” she said.

Ms Benzie said discussions were underway about other plans for 2023.

QUT Associate Film Professor Dr. Mark Ryan says the national filming location is a combination of projects being redirected here during COVID and an ongoing commitment from Hollywood studios and producers to film here.

“In many cases, multi-picture deals have been signed due to the combination of Australia’s high-quality production facilities, talented crews and relative stability in terms of handling the COVID pandemic. -19 and general social conditions,” Dr Ryan said. mentioned.

He said post-production companies in particular were growing rapidly, servicing the large volume of production going on.

This, in turn, has encouraged “creative talent” to stay home, while attracting big stars like Gosling to band together and work on multiple projects.

Dr Maher adds that foreign productions are also attracted to Australia because of tax incentives and subsidies through policies that operate at federal and state levels, not to mention the indirect benefits to the domestic tourism industry.

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