Gold Coast rivals Hollywood thanks to Screen Queensland

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Home to unbeatable locations, world-class talent and crews, and triple-A rated facilities Queensland is now recognised as one of the best production locations in the world and is the first choice of film locations in Australia.

The recent announcement that digital broadcasting giant Netflix will produce an original drama series in Queensland, it’s first in Australia and in partnership with Brisbane production company Hoodlum, has further heightened the excitement around Queensland’s booming screen industry.

Tracey Vieira, CEO of Screen Queensland – the government agency responsible for overseeing the state’s screen industry, says Queensland now offers a real alternative to Hollywood.

“Pirates of the Caribbean was a real game changer for Queensland in that it demonstrated that it is possible to make the same movie in Queensland as you can make in Hollywood – and there’s not a lot of other places in the world that can do that,” she says.

The Netflix deal to produce Hoodlum’s 10 part Tidelands series will create 80 jobs, but the economic and cultural benefits of the production, and other international co-productions lined up for Queensland, go way beyond the screen industry and will be felt right across Queensland and Australia.

Following the initial production jobs created there will be a ripple effect of spending in the community. Crew travelling from interstate or internationally for a big production require accommodation for the duration of the production (up to nine months), they will also shop locally, eat out and explore the city and the country as tourists on days off or once the production wraps. So there is a real economic uplift for the local community from the injection of new money coming into the state from these productions.

Upon its release a film or television series also serves to promote the location as a tourism destination to the wider global audience. As a Netflix production, Tidelands is guaranteed distribution across 190 countries, in effect providing a global showcase of Queensland as a desirable place to visit and of the skills of local film crews and acting talent.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe exhibition current on show in Brisbane is a great example of a cultural flow on from a major film production. The biggest exhibition Marvel has ever staged anywhere in the world, and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, the idea for the five month event grew directly out of the 2016 production of THOR on the Gold Coast with Screen Queensland facilitating the initial discussions between Marvel and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

Screen Queensland was also instrumental in achieving the Netflix deal for Queensland and is also a financial partner having invested in Tidelands.

“I’ve always known that Netflix had a genuine desire to work in Australia, they were already acquiring Australian content but they wanted to make sure that when they took the step to make an original production here the story had to be authentically Australian,” says Vieira.

A key feature of Screen Queensland’s remit is the development and support of Queensland talent.

“Through our early relationship with Netflix, Screen Queensland created an opportunity that opened the door for our producers to meet directly with Netflix to pitch their projects. In December 2016 we supported Hoodlum to travel to a television market in London to meet with Netflix,” says Vieira.

And on this occasion the timing was perfect and Hoodlum had exactly the product that Netflix was looking for.

The great thing about Netflix is that when they place an order for content they don’t just order a pilot or a couple of episodes they order an entire season – giving local producers an opportunity to really invest in that production creatively. Hoodlum will be able to start developing a second series of Tidelands before the first one even goes out on Netflix because if it works, and the audiences like it, Netflix will want that second series delivered within six months.

“The Netflix Tidelands deal represents a real long-term opportunity for Queensland, with the potential for industry sustainability through consistent work for crews and talent and an increased opportunity for industry-wide training to enable the next generation of content creators coming up” Vieira says.

Village Roadshow Studios is the cornerstone of the industry on the Gold Coast. Home to Pirates of the Caribbean – the largest film ever shoot in Australia, the world-class studios consists of nine sound stages including the largest in Australia and the southern hemisphere’s largest water tank.

President of Village Roadshow Studios, Lynne Benzie says the Gold Coast’s unparalleled natural landscape has a significant role in attracting national and international film productions to the city.

“The locations are very diverse on the Gold Coast; within a short drive of the Studios you can find jungle landscapes and we have doubled for the Asia-pacific region, and then if you head the other way, you have the beaches which can double Miami,” she says.

The last financial year was Queensland’s best year in terms of attracting production expenditure of more than $200 million to the state. Queensland has recently hosted back to back international and domestic productions including Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Thor: Ragnarok and Pacific Rim 2. Aquaman is currently shooting at Village Roadshow Studios.

Tidelands will commence shooting in early 2018. It is the latest success for the Brisbane based Emmy and Bafta Award winning Hoodlum.

Further information on Screen Queensland:

Screen Queensland’s role is to develop and invest in Australian stories by Queenslanders, to attract production to Queensland, and to support film culture across the state. The many ways it achieves this includes by supporting producers to attend markets around the world, working with distribution platforms to develop content for distribution, supporting short films being made, and investing in content for all platforms. The agency is also responsible for managing the $30 million funding the Queensland government announced in 2016 would be injected into the screen industry over 4 years.

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