Call to build a stu­dio for film­mak­ers

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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.”

Photo by JASIN BOLAND

Check­ing it out: Be­hind the scenes on set with Reef Doc­tors

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