Port stu­dio call for ‘ac­tion’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - AN­GELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

THE CAM­PAIGN to build a movie and tele­vi­sion stu­dio in Craiglie has taken off with Reef Doc­tor’s and Ocean Girl pro­ducer Jonathan Shiff and Dou­glas coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu back­ing the pro­posal.

The film in­dus­try in the Far North has brought in over $40 mil­lion in the last three­years, and, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil, the Dou­glas re­gion has a chance to both in­crease its share and sig­nif­i­cantly boost that fig­ure by build­ing a ba­sic stu­dio.

Mr Shiff who filmed part of Reef Doc­tors in the re­gion, which is ex­pected to be aired later this year, said a sim­ple one-stu­dio de­sign would help in­crease the in­dus­try.

“When I brought Reef Doc­tors to Port many peo­ple in my or­gan­i­sa­tion ar­gued that it was too big a risk, but I wasn’t go­ing to film any­where else be­cause my home is Port,” he said.

“We were very lucky the wet held off, it’s a risk of hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars a week be­cause when you can’t film you have 150 peo­ple un­em­ployed sit­ting in ho­tels.”

Mr Schiff said Craiglie had been ear­marked as the pro­posed lo­ca­tion of the stu­dio.

“Stu­dios th­ese days aren’t im­pos­si­ble to build, all you need is pre­fab­ri­cated con­crete the same as a su­per­mar­ket build­ing and air­con­di­tion­ing and sound-proof­ing would be ideal,” he said.

“They can build a set in a stu­dio, in Reef Doc­tors for in­stance we could build the inside of a boat or a ho­tel room or inside the clinic - you can build any­thing.”

Mr Schiff said the eco­nomic ben­e­fits would be ben­e­fi­cial, with pro­duc­tions not hav­ing to have two crews- one for film­ing out­side and one in a stu­dio else­where, al­low­ing them to spend more time and re­sources in the re­gion.

“A stu­dio build­ing with proper in­fras­truc­ture and sup­port would be an enor­mous in­cen­tive for the risk and re­wards that film mak­ers face when mak­ing a film de­ci­sion - at the mo­ment peo­ple think very care­fully about a place with no rain cover,” he said.

“If FNQ starts to put together a pro­duc­tion set it would give any des­ti­na­tion in the world a run for its money.”

Di­vi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu is back­ing the pro­posal and said Cairns Re­gional Coun- cil could work with pri­vate com­pa­nies and utilise an in­vest­ment strat­egy called In­vest Cairns to build the stu­dio.

“I want to see us re­ally cap­i­talise on the po­ten­tial and make Dou­glas the home of the film in­dus­try in Queens­land,” she said.

“We need to work closely with key or­gan­i­sa­tions Screen Aus­tralia, Screen Queens­land and ex­ist­ing pro­duc­ers to iden­tify what in­fras­truc­ture they re­quire and work out a strat­egy to achieve this.”

CRC’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tion team are work­ing with in­dus­try mem­bers, from Screen Queens­land to local pro­duc­ers, to de­velop an in­dus­try event this Au­gust, to dis­cuss what the Far North needs to in­crease the multi-mil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try.

Cam­era’s rolling: Lisa McCune and pro­ducer Jonathan M. Shiff on the set of Reef Doc­tors

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