Fearless Proyas parks ‘Garage’

Fox Searchlight to distrib worldwide

SYDNEY — There’s a growing chorus of local directors and producers who say this city has become too expensive and inconvenient for feature filmmaking. Alex Proyas — who shot sci-fier “Dark City” in Sydney — isn’t one of them.

Proyas will begin production in Australia’s busiest city June 4 on coming-of-age rock ‘n’ roll pic “Garage Days,” which Fox Searchlight will distribute worldwide. Using 65 different locations, mid-budget pic will follow a garage band as it works toward its debut at an outdoor summer music festival.Marian McGowan, producer of the current Roadshow release “Risk,” says the cost of inner-city parking meters forced a threefold location budget increase.

Grip and gaffer fees have also risen since “M:I-2” and “The Matrix” lensed in Sydney, where a population of 4 million makes movement around the central businesses district and inner suburbs difficult.

Producer John Maynard found making current release “The Monkey’s Mask” so difficult and expensive that his follow-up, “The Bank,” was re-written to lens in Melbourne.

Says “Garage” producer Topher Dow: “I’d be crazy to say it’s easy to shoot in Sydney, but the city provides a splendid enough background and it’s worth sticking to it.”He adds that money from Fox Searchlight has allowed for a 13-week shoot for the pic, doubly long by local standards, which will ease the pressure of moving between the many city locations.

Making life easier for Proyas is a government filming protocol designed to streamline fees, permits and rules across city councils, which has been introduced since “Risk” and “Monkey’s Mask” were lensed at the height of the building boom that preceded the Sydney Olympic Games.

State Film and TV Office rep Kingston Anderson says so far that 80% of Sydney councils have implemented the standardized guidelines.