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Australia warns Victoria to invest in biz

'Wild Things,' 'Knowing' recently shot in state

SYDNEY — The screen industry in the Australian state of Victoria must invest more heavily in developing solid film and TV scripts and games if it wants to arrest its decline, according to a report commissioned by the state government.

Warner Bros.’ “Where the Wild Things Are”; Alex Proyas’ “Knowing,” with Nicolas Cage, for Summit Entertainment; and HBO’s “The Pacific” recently shot in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state after New South Wales, but no pics are currently lensing there.

The Victoria Screen Industry Review by consultants the Nous Group found that “intensive and collaborative programs for script and games concept development, such as the Sundance Script Lab in Utah and the French eQuinoxe script workshop, appear to be models worth considering.”

The Victorian film and TV sector’s production output has remained steady over the past decade, during which global screen industry revenue has grown at a faster rate than the world economy. In 2006 global entertainment revenues were growing annually at 4.9% compounded, reaching around $410 billion.

The construction of Central City Studios in 2004 has increased the state’s share of foreign, footloose production. But this type of work has forced a cyclical expansion and contraction of the industry, which has eroded the skill base and facilities as people have sought alternative employment. Recently, foreign productions in the state have complained of shortages.

Film Victoria countered the report’s negative findings by issuing figures portraying a buoyant biz. It said a dozen pics worth $45 million lensed in the state during the last financial year.

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