Coast’s bold plan to become ‘new, safe Hollywood’ in virus wake

The Gold Coast is continuing its charge to capitalise on the COVID-induced decimation of global film and TV productions, pitching a new studio, financial incentives and tax breaks to become a safe, global epicentre for the industry.

Jul 14, 2020, updated Jul 14, 2020
Jason Momoa on the blue carpet at the Australian premiere of Aquaman on the Gold Coast. (Photo: AAP Image/Tim Marsden)

Jason Momoa on the blue carpet at the Australian premiere of Aquaman on the Gold Coast. (Photo: AAP Image/Tim Marsden)

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate confirmed he had written to streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney to entice the industry to a Queensland bubble as the world’s best alternative as a new, safe Hollywood.

He said he had also contacted Bollywood to pitch Queensland locations and potential local storylines.

“It makes sense that in post-COVID-19, Hollywood should really come down under,” Tate said.

“If they want to do big blockbusters and require wonderful locations, even outer space locations, we’ve got it right here on the Gold Coast,” he said.

Star Wars particularly would be cool and the pitch is simple – we have so many different locations which can represent different planets – everything from beaches to rainforests and urban landscapes as well as the studio space to recreate everything else.”

Tate said he wanted the Federal government to increase its location incentives for large budget film and television projects shot in Australia from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent. The Australian Screen Production Incentives are scheduled for review in October.

New infrastructure planned under the southeast Queensland 2032 Olympic Games bid would also be re-purposed as a new super-stage for film productions on the Gold Coast under local lures to international films and TV series, Tate said.

“We are the only council in Australia that has film attraction. With the indications I am getting right now, I will increase our film incentive to prove that the Gold Coast is the place to be.

“Already we have streamlined applications from various locations and waived fees.”

Tate said US productions were not the only targets.

“The time is right to attract not just productions from Hollywood but Bollywood – let’s lure them out of Mumbai,” he said.

Queensland’s conquering of the spread of coronavirus and ongoing strict restrictions to prevent transmission made the state the clear leader as a rival to Hollywood, he said.

“Anything to do with COVID-19, we want to be a stand-out model to the rest of the world. When we say Gold Coast has no fatalities, look at the scoreboard, it makes the point it is safe. I am very hopeful we maintain that.”

In contrast to COVID-19 forcing the international movie and TV industry to largely grind to a halt, Queensland has fired up productions again with shoots underway on the Gold Coast and Cairns.

Already there have been enquiries for about $1.2 billion worth of international film and TV projects to be potentially produced in Australia.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced in June that two major productions were rolling cameras again in Queensland after the coronavirus shutdown.

The second season of The Bureau of Magical Things restarted on the Gold Coast, employing more than 200 cast and crew and injecting more than $8.5 million into the Queensland economy.

Rom-com feature film This Little Love of Mine, by Brisbane-based The Steve Jaggi Company, was to start filming in Cairns.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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