The Gold Coast has long been associated with the filming of Hollywood blockbusters, and the city’s screen industry has consequently been viewed as a service industry for film and television productions created by companies from elsewhere.
However, recent research into Gold Coast-originated screen production occurring independent of the Village Roadshow Studios reveals the city is now a growing hub for local feature film and online screen content production.
The study was conducted by researchers from QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre and was supported by the City of Gold Coast.
Associate Professor Mark Ryan, Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham, and Dr Phoebe Macrossan interviewed local producers, writers, directors, and online content creators creating film, television, documentary, and digital/online content production.
“Home to the Village Roadshow film and television production studios, the Gold Coast is an enormously popular location for large-scale US blockbusters and high-budget Australian feature film and television production,” said Dr Ryan.
“This has been the case for more than 30 years, with the new Baz Luhrmann film Elvis the latest high-profile profile project to take advantage of the city’s world-class production facilities and large workforce of skilled technical screen workers.
“The City of Gold Coast City has contributed to fostering this production through its licensing and permits for shooting. It’s also the only council in Australia to have a film attraction program and actively promotes the region as a high-value location for filmmakers.
“Since the early 2000s, a small group of content creators based on the Gold Coast have produced local content, largely feature films and documentaries both in and outside the region.
“Yet until 2009, the number of Gold Coast-based writers, directors and producers creating intellectual property and developing projects was small, production was infrequent, and talent-drain was common.
“A key finding of the study is that there has been strong growth in Gold Coast-originated screen production over the last decade, from the killer-shark movie Bait (2010) and the alien invasion film Occupation (2018), to the documentary Nothing on Earth (2013) and the web series Stage Mums (2018).
“It’s now a productive hub for locally produced low-budget indie feature films, online content and commercial corporate production. Scripted web series and online content activity is also growing and feeds the ever-hungry platforms of YouTube, other social media channels, subscription video on demand, and web-series, as well as short form commercialised content.”
Dr Ryan said between 2009 and 2019, 35 independent films were filmed on the Gold Coast outside the Village Roadshow Studios. Gold Coast-based production companies produced 17 (49% of the total), nine were shot by Brisbane-based production companies and a further nine by largely Sydney-based production entities.
“Between 2015 and 2019, the number of active ABNs in the Gold Coast film and television industry grew from 608 to 921. Many of these companies employ dozens or even hundreds of people,” he said.
“This growth has been driven by a strong increase in the number of key content creators such as producers, directors and writers living and working in the city.
“Other factors include the growing number of freelance screen workers working in the city more generally; the lowering of production barriers due to filmmakers’ ability to film on low-cost and high-definition digital video; and the growth in online platforms stimulating greater levels of production in digital/social media content and web series.
“However, the industry still faces considerable barriers, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“There is a lack of established producers involved in the formal screen industry and large production companies with significant and ongoing slates of core screen content. Indie productions can lack professionalism in financial practices and industry networks are weak.”
Dr Ryan said the key recommendations of the report included the establishment of a producer development and mentorship program, as well as a program to help proven commercial corporate producers make the transition into creative production.
“The Council’s Film Attraction program, while an excellent initiative, is not necessarily designed to support lower-budget Gold Coast-originated projects. We recommend the $1.5M threshold be lowered to support local low-budget and Indie production,” he said.
The Report and its findings will be detailed and discussed at an industry event that will be held on Monday 21st September at HOTA on the Gold Coast. To register to attend the industry event, please contact the Gold Coast Film Festival team on email@example.com.
The full report can be viewed at: https://eprints.qut.edu.au/203607/