Producer offset stimulates local projects

The value of feature and TV productions in Australia rose 2% to $A731 million ($740 million) in the past 12 months, according to a Screen Australia report.

The figure was buoyed by the return of foreign productions after the 2008-09 period, when not a single Hollywood pic lensed locally for the first time in nearly two decades.

This year “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and Katie Holmes starrer “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” shot Down Under.

Spending on TV drama is at a 10-year high at $236 million, up from $220 million the previous year, after a resurgence in local drama dubbed the “Underbelly” effect, after the Nine Network crime drama that grabbed the interest of a previously apathetic local aud.

While the number of hours of programs produced was down slightly, cost per hour was up, with the return of high-quality dramas and made-fors, such as “Hawke,” about Aussie Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and real crime telepic “The Killing of Caroline Byrne.”

Screen Australia credits the 40% producer offset for local pics and co-productions with helping to keep the wolf from the door as the Aussie dollar recently hit parity with the U.S. greenback.

The only international production skedded for the next year is Steven Spielberg’s TV skein “Terra Nova,” so local producers will have to play their part.

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