The Australian regions stepping up - and cashing in - when Hollywood comes calling
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The Australian regions stepping up – and cashing in – when Hollywood comes calling

The release of Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga today is just the latest example of Hollywood’s growing interest in Australian locations, offering potentially huge rewards across regional economies

By Mercedes Maguire
Mon, Jul 31, 2023 9:13amGrey Clock 5 min

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was shut down in early 2023 so Ryan Gosling could film a stunt on it for his latest movie, The Fall Guy, all eyes were on the handsome leading man – and why not? But did you stop to think of the Aussie company that provided his lunch that day, the makeup artist who got him looking just right, the supplier who provided portable loos for the day’s filming, or even the helicopter crew tasked with helping shoot the adventure scene?

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Australia has long been a popular choice for Hollywood to film their blockbusters – The Great Gatsby at Manly, The Pirates of the Caribbean on The Whitsundays and Gold Coast, The Matrix in Sydney and Wolverine in Parramatta, to name a few.  Most recently, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, directed by George Miller, was shot on location in Broken Hill. And behind the press conferences that congratulate the government for bringing such productions down under and the media snippets that catch glimpses of the leading man or lady caught walking our streets, it’s small businesses that benefit.

Since 2018, 39 international movie productions have been filmed in Australia – predominantly the east coast states of NSW, Victoria and Queensland – which has generated more than $3.3 billion in private investment and provided more than 24,100 jobs for local cast and crew, according to data from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

A report titled Creative Industries Ripple Effect by UK-based consultancy Olsberg SPI found that 63 percent of the expenditure derived from making a movie or film went to businesses outside of the film industry – to the construction, catering, hair and makeup, real estate, tourism, hospitality and countless other businesses that benefit when an international film production company rolls into town.

The town of Hay in south western NSW was struggling last year after months of COVID state border lockdowns decimated their Sydney to Adelaide drive-through tourism. When a big budget Hollywood action film (that cannot be named) chose the Riverina town to film, it was a lifeline.

“The impact was immediate and tangible,” says the economic development officer for Hay Shire Council, Alison McLean. 

“There was $7 million in economic activity just from the cast and crew being in town. It was also incredible from a confidence-boosting point of view for our businesses; all of a sudden there were 400 extra people spending money in the region and the businesses really stepped up and took a lot of pride in providing excellent service.”

The regional town of Hay has seen a $7 million boost from being used as a film location.

She said the most obvious impact was on the accommodation sector which had suffered a 60 percent downturn in revenue and as a result of the filming in town, there was a 72 percent increase.

For The Whitsundays in Queensland, it is hoped the long term benefits of movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and, more recently, Ticket to Paradise starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney will translate to tourism dollars.

Julia Roberts and George Clooney starred in Ticket to Paradise, shot in The Whitsundays.

“After the movies are released, we reap the tourism rewards as our stunning region is up in lights,” says Tourism Whitsundays CEO Rick Hamilton. “If you Google Ticket to Paradise, you’ll find it was filmed at Palm Bay Resort and Hamilton Island, both island resorts that are bookable by visitors.

“The beauty of The Whitsundays is that it’s hard to disguise. Hollywood can change the location, but it still looks like The Whitsundays.”

Locations manager Jeremy Peek — who has worked on Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Alien: Covenant (2017), Peter Rabbit 1 and 2 (2018 and 2021) and Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) — says international film production is a growing sector. He says COVID shone a spotlight on Australia as an ideal filming location and the effects of that have continued beyond the opening of borders.

Jeremy Peek on location in Broken Hill

“Early on when COVID hit it was felt that we were just about the only country in the world who could keep going and the world looked to us as a safe haven to film in,” Peek says. “(Netflix series) Pieces of Her, for example, was due to start shooting in Vancouver when COVID hit, they’d built sets and everything, but they moved the shoot here. And Three Thousand Years of Longing, which was originally meant to be shot in Sydney, London and Turkey, was re-scouted to Sydney because there was confidence in Australia being a safe place to work.”

Peek says the government incentives and rebates are important now that the COVID scare has passed because they show Australia can compete on a world stage. 

It’s for this reason Ausfilm CEO, Kate Marks, believes the incentives the State and Federal Government offer to attract the likes of Disney, Universal, Marvel and Netflix to our shores need to be increased.

There is the Location Incentive grant, which is a merit-based offer that entitles an international production company to a grant worth 13.5 percent of their production expenditure. A secondary offer, the Location Offset Rebate, provides a 16.5 percent tax break. When used together, they result in a 30 percent carrot dangling in front of production companies. But only the Location Offset is permanently legislated.

“On its own the 16.5 percent Location Offset is not going to stay competitive for Australia on a world stage for too long,” she says. “Ideally, we would love to see a 30 percent Location Offset incentive as it’s the best option to provide ongoing certainty for companies. 

“There are studios who are coming back again and again; NBC/Universal have done 13 film and television projects here, and studios like Disney and Warner Bros also keep coming back.

“We need to see that continue.”

And it appears the Federal Government has listened, announcing an increase to the Location Offset from 16.5 per cent to 30 percent for eligible productions in the recent budget. 

It’s a move Peter Davey, co-CEO of law firm EMT, who specialise in entertainment, media, sport and technology advice, has welcomed.

“With the offset established, Australia will remain a highly attractive location for international productions and the investment in talent and jobs here will continue to grow,” Davey says.  “In the details of the Government’s announcement, there are also requirements for international companies to, for example, commit to training and to work with Australian digital, visual effects and post production companies.”

Film and television producer James Hoppe adds Australia needs to expand its studio space, evolve the foundation of film technology and increase the local labour force in order for international film production in Australia to grow.

“The labour force can only handle so much and when an international production comes in, they suck up all the labour pretty quickly,” the owner of Maker Films says. 

“There needs to be an implementation by local council so they can handle the influx of an international production. When Marvel took over Fox Studios and Elvis was being filmed on the Gold Coast and Robbie William’s Better Man was being filmed in Melbourne, it sucked up a lot of the labour force and production facilities and it was difficult for other international or local producers to access required resources.”



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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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It’s a slam dunk as a covetable $2m KDR site complete with basketball court hits the market in the Hills District

The ball is in the buyer’s court with this knockdown/rebuild opportunity

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Tue, Apr 18, 2023 2 min

Glenhaven in Sydney’s Hills District is one of those areas that locals tend to keep to themselves. Leafy with large blocks on offer, the suburb takes its name from its valley location, with the northern end originally known as the Glen and the southern end called the Haven. 

En route from Parramatta to the Hunter, Glenhaven has become an ideal place for growing families in search of a little more space, or even room to house several generations under one roof.

The challenge is finding properties that tick all the right boxes.

As demand for trades and supply chain issues continue to ease, now could be the right time for a knockdown/rebuild project for would-be buyers looking to create their dream home.

Fairmont Homes specialises in knockdown/rebuild projects in Sydney. General manager at Fairmont Homes, Daniel Logue, said there are key features to look for when choosing a knockdown/rebuild site.

“The key items we look for are the site falling to the street, not to the rear, to help with stormwater drainage as well as access to the site,” he said. “Neighbouring property front setbacks are also important. In some older areas, the older houses are set closer to the street, meaning your new home will have to be set to suit.

“Value for money and the return on the end sale price of the home is another issue.”

If possible, he said designing a home that meets the criteria of the Complying Development legislation will speed up approvals considerably.

While suitable knockdown/rebuild sites can be hard to find in Glenhaven, there are still hidden opportunities if you know where to look.

One block at 158 Gilbert Road, Glenhaven is ideally suited for rejuvenation. With almost 850sqm to play with, it slopes down to the street and sits between neighbouring properties that have already been stylishly updated.

 

 

An existing basketball court at the rear could provide the perfect teen backdrop to a family home, or it could make way for a larger house with landscaped gardens and pool. Alternatively, it could be the perfect position for a cabana or granny flat to serve as in-law accommodation or a source of secondary income.

With recent sales of completed homes in nearby streets reaching well above $5 million, it’s a great opportunity to make a slam dunk of a buy into one of Sydney’s best kept secrets.

Address: 158 Gilbert Road, Glenhaven
Price guide: $1.8 million
Inspection: By appointment only

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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