Gold Coast, Queensland is one of the world’s most popular shooting destinations, thanks to Village Roadshow Studios and pristine, exotic locations.
As Australia’s screen production sector lobbies the federal government to increase its national locations offset, state governments are pulling out all of the stops to ensure Australia remains competitive internationally and secures major US and international productions. Queensland has been leading the charge, with a state government willing to put its money where its mouth is, by bankrolling an additional 13.5% tax concession to Paramount, to lift the overall benefit to 30% and secure the Dora The Explorer movie for Village Roadshow Studios on the state’s film-focused Gold Coast.
The deal was secured after a trade mission to the US by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira. It saw the live-action adaptation of Dora The Explorer move into production in June on the Gold Coast’s $12.8m (a$16.5m) Sound Stage 9 at Village Roadshow Studios. The shoot commenced in the southern summer and will involve the versatile jungle topography of South East Queensland, doubling for Latin America.
Village Roadshow Studios has attracted an estimated $2.8bn (a$3.6bn) worth of film production, and the facility offers world-class facilities, nine sound stages — including Australia’s largest at 3,716 square metres (40,000 square feet) — and three water tanks. The largest water tank holds six million litres and can be used for surface and underwater sequences.
The studios are a 45-minute drive south of Brisbane International Airport and a 30-minute drive from the Gold Coast’s international airport. As the tourism capital of Australia, the Gold Coast also offers world-class accommodation, dining options and an array of attractions for visiting cast and crew.
The City of Gold Coast supports the film industry and has an established Film Assistance Program to attract and support production companies looking to film in the city. This is unique for local government in Australia and is independent from the filming incentives provided through Screen Australia and Screen Queensland.
From pristine beaches and national parks to hinterland retreats, cane fields and sub-tropical rainforests, the Gold Coast’s unspoiled natural landscape plays a significant role in attracting national and international film productions to the city. Its well-developed infrastructure and highly skilled network of local crews have made it a filming hotspot, and a favourite destination for large-scale footloose productions.
A significant pipeline of recent back-to-back international projects in the state includes Aquaman, Thor: Ragnarok, Kong: Skull Island, Pacific Rim Uprising, Jungle, The Shallows, Chinese production At Last, Guardians Of The Tomb and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Screen Queensland and Ausfilm have lobbied the federal government to overhaul the national incentives scheme and raise the offset for all high-value films from 16.5% to 30%. To date, all increases have been assessed on a discretionary basis. Until the national incentives scheme is resolved, with all eyes on the federal budget in May, Queensland’s premier has committed to “keep on pushing for screen jobs for our local crews and creatives, and for productions that inject hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy and take our creative talent and our stunning Queensland locations to screens around the world.”
The funds to top up the incentives were drawn from the Queensland government’s $23.4m (a$30m) Production Attraction Fund, a three-year programme devoted to attracting international filmmakers to Queensland to boost employment and expenditure in the state.