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CONTENT AUSTRALIA ON DEMAND
DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Film Victoria

Programming Profile

Made in Melbourne

25-06-2021

Film Victoria is making the most of Melbourne’s reputation as a world-class production destination as it capitalises on the huge global demand for screen content.

 

Although Victoria was one of the Australian states worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also one of the first states to resume film and TV production.

 

Along with the likes of the ABC, Screen Australia and fellow state screen agencies, Film Victoria – the Victorian state government’s screen agency, based in Melbourne – contributed to the screen sector’s COVIDSafe protocols that have helped make Australia one of the world’s safest places to film.

 

Recognised as Australia’s centre for creativity and digital innovation, Victoria boasts highly skilled talent and experienced crews, as well as renowned post-production specialists and VFX, animation and games studios.

 

Victoria’s diverse locations are also among the most accessible in Australia, with beaches, deserts, mountains, forests, wineries and small towns all within an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s city centre.

 

Brinkman
Joe Brinkmann, Film Victoria

Meanwhile, the city’s mix of historic and modern architecture can service period, contemporary and futuristic storylines, and Melbourne has the flexibility to double for almost any city in the world.

 

Joe Brinkmann, the Manager of Production Attraction and Support at Film Victoria, says enquiries from interested parties looking to shoot in Victoria have doubled in the past year, with “significant interest” from countries such as the UK and the US, and doesn’t anticipate that ceasing.

 

“There are other countries that are equally as safe and attractive for filming, but to have a turnkey, English-speaking crew and cast where you don’t have to bring in a bunch of your own talent or workers, that’s a huge benefit for Australia,” says Brinkmann.

 

Ross Hutchens, Head of Screen Industry Programs at Film Victoria, is keen to see a mix of both international productions and domestic projects shoot in the state and extols the benefits of having both. “There’s no priority one way or another; they’re both important to our ecosystem and we have substantial funding for both. It’s a win-win scenario,” says Hutchens.

 

With a lifestyle that sees it regularly rank high on the lists of most-liveable cities in the world, Melbourne is fast becoming a go-to screen production destination for projects from around the world.

 

Hutchens
Ross Hutchens, Film Victoria

Film Victoria, furthermore, offers competitive financial incentives to productions that are seeking a film-friendly production destination for their screen projects. The Victorian Screen Incentive (VSI) offers grants of up to 10% on qualifying production expenditure in Victoria to encourage producers to bring their projects to Victoria, including physical production, post-production, VFX, animation and digital games.

 

 

Docklands Studios Melbourne Showreel
Docklands Studios Melbourne Showreel

Projects can apply for a grant based on a percentage of Qualifying Victorian Expenditure (QVE). The VSI can be combined with the Australian Screen Production Incentive through the Location Offset, the Location Incentive, the Post, Digital and Visual effects (PDV) Offset, the Official Coproduction arrangement and the Producer Offset.

 

Projects must be fully financed, with genuine marketplace interest for commercial release or distribution, and must meet the following minimum spends in Victoria: AU$3.5m (US$2.7m) on production and post-production; AU$1m on animation; AU$1m on digital games production; AU$1m on VFX; and AU$500,000 on post-production.

 

With cameras rolling throughout Melbourne, the Victorian government last year announced a major financial boost to the state’s screen industry as it seeks to capitalise on the huge global demand for screen content.

It pledged an investment of AU$33.8m in Victorian screen productions and programmes to attract more international and interstate screen projects through the VSI, while increasing investment in local content development, skills and screen productions including digital games.

 

The vast majority of these investments will have been committed prior to June this year, providing significant immediate stimulus, part of which more than doubled Film Victoria’s investment in the development of locally generated digital games.

 

“We take a whole industry ecosystem approach, where there are overlapping benefits to having the games industry, the animation industry and the VFX industry alongside digital and virtual production, as well as the infrastructure we have for practical shoots,” says Brinkmann.

 

Further to this investment, in May this year, the Victorian government launched VICSCREEN, an ambitious vision for Victoria to become a global powerhouse for screen, coupled with a record funding of AU$191.5m in screen over four years.

 

Meanwhile, the Regional Location Assistance Fund (RLAF) offers grants to encourage Victorian, interstate and international screen productions to locate production activity in regional Victoria. The incentive operates as a simple grant that is paid on completion of the project and audit of the production expenditure.

 

 

Film Victoria Showreel
Film Victoria Showreel

RLAF can be combined with the VSI, and projects must make a minimum of AU$100,000 qualified regional Victorian spend and accommodate the crew in the regional location for at least five nights.

 

As well as looking to grow production regionally and support local producers’ development slates, diversity is also a key priority for Film Victoria, with Hutchens pointing to a recent initiative with Australian multicultural broadcaster SBS.

 

Originate, a low-budget feature initiative targeted at writers/directors from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, will turn early draft scripts into production-ready screenplays through a three-part process delivered by internationally renowned UK-based story developer Angeli Macfarlane.

 

Film Victoria has also recently funded the second iteration of Impact Australia, the screenwriter development system created by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Tyler Mitchell. Held in Melbourne, Impact Australia seeks to discover, cultivate and empower Australian creative storytellers.

 

Such is the clamour to shoot in Victoria at the moment that Brinkmann and Hutchens emphasise that the organisation is focused on ensuring the state’s crew base expands to cater for the growing demand. “Having a strain on capacity is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s an argument for Victorians who maybe were working out of state or overseas to come back and know there’s a pipeline of activity here in Victoria,” says Brinkmann.

 

“It also allows people who may have been at one level to step up and get significant experience on a big international show and bolster their skillset.”

 

Hutchens adds: “In the long term, we have sophisticated attachment schemes, professional placements and the state government has just tripled the funding that we have in that area, so we are building that capacity by fast-tracking people.”

 

Among the examples of international projects currently filming in Victoria are Paramount Television’s Shantaram and Universal Television’s La Brea, plus Fires from NBCUniversal and Melbourne-based Tony Ayres Productions.

 

 

World-Class Screen Talent Showreel
World-Class Screen Talent Showreel

Recently wrapped productions include Werner Film Productions’ Surviving Summer for Netflix and Liam Neeson thriller Blacklight, as well as Netflix series Clickbait from Tony Ayres Productions.

 

“We find the biggest value to Victoria is when we have a large project that goes to a wide viewership that’s led by Victorian talent, like Tony Ayres Productions’ Fires for ABC. That’s really where we feel there’s an added benefit to our screen industry, beyond the direct economic, employment and location benefits for our state,” says Brinkmann, who also highlights Victorian productions such as The Dry and Ride Like a Girl.

 

Film Victoria is aiming to ensure all the needs of a hungry screen industry can be satisfied in the state, and some of its facilities are in the process of expansion.

 

Docklands Studios Melbourne, located on the doorstep of downtown Melbourne, currently comprises five state-of-the-art, purpose-built sound stages alongside a large production office and workshop spaces. A sixth sound stage with a giant 900,000 litre (240,000 gallon) water tank is currently under construction. Occupying 3,700 sq metres (40,000 sq ft), the super stage will be one of the largest such facilities in the southern hemisphere.

 

“We’re creating a hub that is future-focused and meets all the different needs we’re anticipating the screen industry will require in the future,” says Brinkmann.