Sydney wants its film biz back

NSW Premier pledges to cut red tape

SYDNEY — While those in Hollywood fear runaway production going to Australia, bizzers in New South Wales are trying to keep local biz from leaving the region.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has pledged to cut red tape for filming in and around Sydney, a year after the industry there began campaigning for relief.

Local filmmakers say obtaining permission to shoot in some locales has become so expensive and onerous they’ve taken their work to the neighboring states of Queensland and Victoria.

For example, “The Tender Hook” with Hugo Weaving is set in Sydney’s Surry Hills, but last year lensed in Melbourne on the promise of an easy shoot and financial incentives from Film Victoria.

Also in recent years, NSW failed to accommodate ad shoots that would have had cars zooming across the iconic harbor bridge because the relevant government authority refused to facilitate a closure (even though inconvenience would have been minimal because a tunnel runs beneath the bridge).

Production levels in Queensland and Victoria have come to eclipse NSW, Australia’s most populous state and one-time production capital.

“I want councils and government agencies to do everything in their power to encourage filming. I want them to remove any barriers that might stop crews from choosing Sydney or somewhere else in NSW as a location,” Iemma said.

The industry welcomed the sentiment but expressed disappointment the government had not also increased funding for the NSW Film and Television Office, which receives a fraction of the funding of its Victorian and Queensland counterparts.

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