Victoria rises in Oz

Australian state pushes for more screen time

HBO’s mini “The Pacific” was originally only set to lense 3% Down Under, but the production team decided to shoot 80% in the country — the appeal of Oz’s southern state of Victoria was the deal clincher.

Film Victoria topper Sandra Sdraulig says that lifestyle was a factor, with many of the rural locales still very close to the bustling capital of Melbourne. With crew looking to spend over a year on the mega mini, that was a big selling point.

But there were additional factors that brought such a large production to Oz.

“You have to have a point of difference,” says Sdraulig. “And ours is the state-of-the-art facilities, the depth of crew and crews that have a proactive, can-do attitude.”

Past international productions have included Nicolas Cage returning to Melbourne for “Knowing” after his turn in “Ghost Rider,” the recently wrapped Miramax thriller “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” and the newly announced Jason Statham actioner “The Killer Elite,” from Alliance Entertainment, which will lense in Victoria later this year.

But one other key to a good location is that it doesn’t rest on past achievements and instead looks at new ways to attract productions.

In November last year, the Victorian government released its Screen Strategy, which contained up to A$1 million ($912,000) to evaluate the state’s needs for attracting productions.

The review, which concludes this month, is exploring the creation of new soundstages at the landmark Melbourne Central City Studios and big-ticket attractions like a horizon tank.

“Investigations are currently under way for that and we have identified a site,” says Sdraulig. “It is a most unusual site. It’s really difficult to find a place that provides that level of horizon and that is accessible, but we have one.”

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