Call to build a studio for filmmakers
REEF Doctors producer has called for a studio to be built in Port Douglas to help the region’s economy diversify.
The main initiatives of the Cairns Regional Council’s filming/photography policy, which was implemented this month, means the film industry now has an easier application process.
Executive producer Jonathan Shiff from Jonathan M. Shiff Productions has recently spent three weeks in the region filming new television series Reef Doctors and is now in the Gold Coast to finish filming because there are no local studio facilities.
“We would love to shoot the whole thing in Port Douglas if I could,” he said.
“I would like to film in Port Douglas not for three weeks but instead four months, when we’re not in the rainforest or reef we could film Lisa’s house.
“The only thing we don’t have in Port Douglas is a studio, even a modest stage for wet weather cover as a lot of projects coming through always feel at risk.
“My vision in Far North is to see the region at some point move from simply being a satellite location to putting down footprint for a viable industry base.
“We filmed a project in Fiji five years ago and they’ve approached us and building a studio to facilitate it but we don’t want to go to Fiji, we want to do it our backyard.”
Jonathan said even basic facilities would be enough to bring more film and television productions to the region
“Imagine simply a modest television studio in Craiglie or at Mossman,” Mr Shiff said.
“With the pretty basic soundproof four walls and airconditioning you’d be able to attract shows like The Pacific to do interiors.”
Mr Shiff said the council’s new filming strategy is a step in the right direction.
“It means it’s a film friendly place and shows they understand the pressures on you and understand the time pressure, turn around and commitment,” Mr Shiff said.
“What it means for us as manufacturers is we’re going to deal with these people and bring millions in to local business because council understands the nature of my manufacturing business.
“As opposed to 20 months of red tape and about eight permits and guy in charge quitting and having to deal with another guy, it will streamline the whole process.
“Now we’ve started to talk to people about the funding envelope, because we don’t think the CRC can do anything but modest initiatives.”
Mr Schiff is lobbying federal body Screen Australia to recognise the family television category and plans to raise with the State Government the low resources available for filming in Queensland.
“Someone needs to wake up before they all go to Malaysia where they’re building the mother of all studios,” he said.
“But we want to film at home, where the crew love and where I live.”
Checking it out: Behind the scenes on set with Reef Doctors