Port studio call for ‘action’
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