Aussies vie for location biz

Three of Australia's key production states take heed

SYDNEY — In the runup to the federal government’s funding overhaul designed to boost local productions and lure biz from offshore effective July 1, three of Australia’s four key production states have intensified their jockeying for such productions.

“Obviously it’s competitive,” says Richard Harris, ex-exec director of the Australian Directors’ Guild. Harris was tapped this month to run the South Australian Film Corp., and institute a new Film South Australia promotional office dedicated to attracting productions to the state.

“South Australia is the home of independent filmmaking,” Harris says. Indie hits “Rabbit Proof Fence,” “Look Both Ways” and “Ten Canoes” all lensed in the state.

This month’s Queensland budget contained a 33% boost to the state’s Revolving Finance Fund. A total pool of A$20 million ($17 million) is now available for short term loans to domestic and foreign productions.

Queensland, home to Warner Roadshow Studios, recently hosted production of WB’s “Fools Gold,” and various locations in the state’s far north will later this year host much of HBO’s “The Pacific.” After a gloomy stretch, the state now has a packed schedule, possibly proof of the effectiveness of its post-production and payroll tax incentives revamped in recent years.

Victoria’s well-funded Melbourne Film Office has for many years aggressively tried to lure productions to the state, lately with particular success.

Melbourne’s Central City Studios and other locations recently hosted “Charlotte’s Web,” “Ghost Rider” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

New overhauls at state funder Film Victoria are designed to entice Australian productions to the state and boost the effectiveness of Victoria filmmakers.

Film Victoria has a $13 million revolving cash fund available for only domestic productions to use as loans against sales guarantees and the federal new rebate. The Melbourne Intl. Film Festival has established a marketplace and received funds to invest in feature films.

All rights to projects funded by Film Victoria will revert to producers after five years.In a bid to embrace new technology, the office also has decided to remove distinctions between the types of programs it funds, essentially giving games creators and Internet programmers the same status as makers of content for film and television.

“We’re prompting people to think about exploiting their content across platforms,” says Film Victoria’s general manager of industry development and investment Ros Tatarka.

Despite planning and increased incentives in other states, New South Wales, Australia’s former screen production hub, which last financial year lost that crown to Victoria, has had its state funding curtailed. This week’s budget (June 19) recorded a 1% funding cutback, with no new programs or incentives.

Tania Chambers, topper of the NSW Film and Television Office, is attempting to remain upbeat about the state’s competitiveness. She says New South Wales is in the middle of discussions on changes as to how her office invests in productions.

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