25/02/2010 - 00:00

Enthusiasm a local feature

25/02/2010 - 00:00

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AN influx of new feature film and television productions in Western Australia has prompted one local producer to claim that Perth could become the next Hollywood.

Enthusiasm a local feature

AN influx of new feature film and television productions in Western Australia has prompted one local producer to claim that Perth could become the next Hollywood.
More small screen projects, primarily documentaries and children's programs, are shot in WA than feature films, but both formats are increasing in number and delivering millions to the state economy, ScreenWest chief executive Ian Booth said.
"A few years ago there were only one or two features a year, now there are three to five a year," Mr Booth told Business Class.
"We've gone from a $25 million level, say, five years ago, that's per annum, closer to a $40 million average level the last couple of years, and I hope that sustains and continues."
Current television projects include the second season of Lochie Leonard being shot in Albany, the $10 million series Stormworld, shot between Mindarie, Broome, Singapore and Canada, as well as the six-part mini-series of Tim Winton's novel, Cloudstreet, which started shooting almost three weeks ago.
Screentime executive producer Des Monaghan said state government funding from ScreenWest was responsible for bringing the multi-million dollar Cloudstreet project to WA, currently being filmed in Dalkeith and employing hundreds of people until May, fending off fierce competition from Film Victoria.
"Attracting production is very competitive between states and countries," Mr Monaghan said.
Independent feature film Blame, with a budget just under $2 million, is being shot in Roleystone for the next four weeks using an all-WA crew.
Fortescue Metals Group general manager rail, and Bolder Pictures executive producer, Peter Thomas (who is also a 2010 WA Business News 40under40 Award winner), along with his co-producer, director and partner, Camille Chen, are currently overseeing post-production of their first feature film Fascade, which he personally funded at $200,000 and was shot recently in Perth over 19 days, involving about 25 cast and crew.
Meanwhile, FMG founding director Graeme Rowley announced his intention to retire as an executive director from March 2 to pursue the role of executive producer of WA film Bugle Boy, into which he injected seed capital.
Mr Thomas believes Perth could become another Hollywood, of sorts.
"Hollywood was put in LA because it doesn't rain very much there; Perth is exactly the same, the number of days of rainfall is very low and that, combined with all the speculative money that gets made here, it's ripe for a film industry," he said.
In the mid 1980s, now the largest commercial TV producer in the UK, Granada Media, was interested in placing people in Perth for possible co-productions for similar reasons.
Stephen Van Mil, who's producing The Drowner, a $50 million film based on the life of CY O'Connor, agrees that Perth could be home to a proper film industry.
"I'm hell bent on shooting in WA," he said.
"If a Hollywood studio approached us to take on the project but wanted to shoot it somewhere else, I wouldn't do it."
He said Icon Film Distribution had recently guaranteed him a further $2 million in pre-production funding, and various big names in Australian business were very interested in adding to the existing $1 million in funding secured through sophisticated and mum-and-dad investors.

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