It’s a Game Changer

Docklands studio expansion means busy times ahead for local industry

There were smiles all round following Premier Andrews' announcement of a new super sound stage for Docklands Studios Melbourne (DSM) and the arrival of US production company Dick Cook Studios, which is set to call Victoria home when they establish their Asia-Pacific HQ in Melbourne.

It's great news too for Victorian screen practitioners and businesses, with the studio expansion set to boost the capacity of, and opportunities for the local industry.

The new stage will increase the stage capacity of DSM by a massive 60 per cent, improving access for domestic projects of varying sizes, including low budget productions.

While construction of the new stage is underway it will be business as usual in the five existing stages, with two major television series - the 10-part Apple TV+ series Shantaram and the eight-part Victorian Netflix Original series Clickbait - filming in 2020. Between them these two productions will generate over 800 jobs for Victorian cast, crew and extras, and utilise the services of around 500 local businesses over their production schedule.

And the good news keeps coming, with two Dick Cook Studios' features - Ranger's Apprentice and The Alchemyst - already slated for production in Melbourne, set to generate 800 employment opportunities for Victorians.

Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher predicts exciting times ahead for the local industry: "The expansion of Docklands Studios Melbourne is an absolute game-changer for our local screen industry. As a direct result, thousands more job opportunities will be created right here in Victoria on both international and local productions.”

Industry reactions to the prospect of an ongoing pipeline of work in what has traditionally been a seasonal industry have been enthusiastic.

"It means more exciting work, we know that Ranger's Apprentice has a lot of visual effects work and that helps our crew be really creative and push the boundaries of technology, and it also helps us create the next generation of artists that are able to do the work that can be seen all across the world so that's really exciting for us," says Jamy Zink, VP/ Head of Culture, Luma Pictures while Max Haymes, a 2IC in set construction comments that "depending on the size of the job there can be 60 to 100 crew...they all obviously have mortgages and children, and all want to work in the film industry and the creative industries, but the stop-start nature of film and TV means it's difficult at times, so this means a continuity of work, which is a really big deal."

Karl Engeler, Gaffer and owner of Motion Picture Lighting is encouraged by the prospects for his business: "businesses such as mine or any of the other small businesses around [Victoria] will be able to reinvest - that's the big one - if we don't have the work we can't reinvest...you need that longevity of work, that consistency of work, and that's what makes it a business and an industry, rather than the 'cottage industry' it's often perceived to be."

A pipeline of work also means the outlook is bright for people forging a career in the industry, like Assistant Stunt Coordinator Philli Anderson, "As someone who's coming up through the ranks and who will hopefully be a head of department in the next few years, it gives us a future and secures that there will be an industry for us to work in and bring other people through the industry, mainly it means we will hopefully be employed for the foreseeable future."

 

 

(Image: Rod Allan, CEO Docklands Studios Melbourne; Caroline Pitcher, CEO Film Victoria; Premier Daniel Andrews; Dick Cook, Chairman of Dick Cook Studios; Paul Fletcher MP, Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and Arts and Kate McLean, Managing Director, Dick Cook Studios at the official announcement on 20 October at Docklands Studios Melbourne. Photographer: Daniel Mahon)