Fears film bid may have been botched

BIDS for a new film hub in WA are currently under consideration by the McGowan government, but industry reps are concerned a planning “oversight” could see the opportunity wasted.  

In August the state government issued a “casting call” for private sector proposals to develop a state-of-the-art production facility in Perth to address growing industry demand. 

Victoria Quay was touted as a potential site by premier Mark McGowan and is the preferred location in a bid led by developer Adrian Fini and Little Creatures founder Howard Cearns.

The parameters set by the government include constructing one large sound stage and two or three smaller sound stages, production offices and construction workshops. 

Backlot

However, there was no mention of backlot facilities, which insiders are concerned could deter the very companies the government is hoping to attract. 

Sydney-based producer Timothy White understands the limitations of WA’s existing film infrastructure. He was a producer on the 2019 Netflix hit I Am Mother, a film he said should have filmed in WA. 

in WA but as it turned out there wasn’t a studio big enough for the movie, so we uplifted it and took it to the South Australia Film Corps Studio in Adelaide.

“That film premiered at Sundance and has been a massive hit for Netflix with over 40 million views. 

Worldwide

“In terms of people, it’s more likely to have been 80 million people that have seen it worldwide. 

“That is a film that could have shot in Perth,” Mr White said.  

Local director and member of the Screen Infrastructure Advocacy Group (SIAG) John Fairhead said infrastructure has been the missing piece of the puzzle for WA’s film industry. 

He hopes, “with the right kind of infrastructure, in the right location, with the right people operating it” the WA film industry can compete both nationally and internationally.  

Mr White and Mr Fairhead share enthusiasm for a local film hub as well as concerns about what’s being suggested. 

“I do think it’s a mistake if you cannot have some backlot,” Mr White said.

“You need a number of stages to build and have sets up and that will also help the facility to be able to work with projects at a slightly higher scale. 

“Ultimately it doesn’t have to be huge, but you need some of that flexibility to be able to shoot against sky, shoot with natural light and also to give greater flexibility to the package of what’s on offer.”

Mr Fairhead said film-makers had pushed hard to be part of the conversation about what infrastructure was needed.

“There are a lot of people here who have expert knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work,” Mr Fairhead said.

“The oversight of not having a backlot in there is an interesting one because it’s a no brainer for anyone in the industry.”

by ESTELLA SMITH

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