Location Offset increase finally passed after long delay

'Anyone But You'. (Photo: Brook Rushton, © 2023 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved)

The Location Offset has officially been boosted to 30 per cent from 16.5 per cent after long-delayed legislation was passed in Parliament.

The increased subsidy, which has been backdated to July 1, 2023, now gives another level of certainty to offshore productions considering shooting in Australia.

It includes criteria requiring runaway productions to invest in training local crew or investing in infrastructure, and use one or more Australian providers to deliver post-production, digital and visual effects. Minimum qualifying Australian production expenditure thresholds were also increased from $15 million and $1 million per hour for television series to $20 million and $1.5 million per hour for TV series.

While the changes will underpin overall screen production, it remains to be seen whether culturally relevant Australian screen dramas will ultimately benefit or be simply locked out as a glut of Hollywood productions hoovers up local crew.

Meanwhile, a Producer Offset minimum expenditure threshold of $35 million per season will apply to drama series that commence filming on or after July 1, 2024. It means a drama series that films significant numbers of hours over a season but does not meet the per hour threshold can now benefit from the Offset.

The Offset legislation was contained in an omnibus Bill that included contentious changes to the financial advice and superannuation sectors, which added to the delay.

However, Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said the changes would now boost the Australian screen sector.

“The more productions that choose Australia as their filming location, the more our Australian screen workers have the opportunity showcase their talents and hone their craft here at home – that’s why we’re increasing the Location Offset to encourage more large-budget productions to our shores.

“We’re also backing iconic Australian drama, with changes to the Producer Offset to support more Australian stories being told and shared by the people who know them best.”

Ausfilm said large-scale international productions will provide opportunities for local creatives such as directors, actors, writers and producers, and build capacity and capabilities, underpinning the industry’s ability to keep telling Australian stories.

“Australia has always been a great place to make films and TV: now, we are one of the most competitive,” Ausfilm CEO Kate Marks said.

“Foreign spend on drama production and post-production reached record-breaking levels in 2022-23 per Screen Australia’s Drama Report, driven by large-scale titles such as Anyone But You, The Fall Guy, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and Ricky Stanicky, alongside post, digital and visual effects (PDV) work on titles that did not shoot in Australia such as Halo, Hocus Pocus 2 and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.”

Ausfilm, which largely represents PDV companies, has lobbied for the Location Offset increase.