“I couldn’t envision a more suitable place worldwide to create films”: The growing creative community of local filmmakers on the Gold Coast 

Cleo and Anna Waters-Massey.

After two decades spent living in London, when the Brisbane-born Christopher Amos decided to return to Australia to pursue his dream of making feature films with global appeal, he made the Gold Coast his base.  

“The Gold Coast is an excellent location to call home, especially for someone like me, whose life is intricately tied to filmmaking. I couldn’t envision a more suitable place worldwide to create films,” he says. 

Amos is a filmmaker, journalist and LGBT+ activist, whose documentary Hating Peter Tatchell –starring Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry – saw him nominated for an Australian Directors’ Guild Award. 

Last year, he established his own production company, Chrysaor, with the aim of spotlighting marginalised stories globally, drawing upon his connections in the UK and US. He has an ambition to create employment opportunities on the Gold Coast at all stages of production, from development through to post-production, and foster collaborations with other screen industry creatives based in the area.

Amos is currently drafting his second screenplay, a road movie and family thriller titled Motorhome, which despite being set in the US, he plans to shoot on the Gold Coast. 

“The region offers diverse settings that can convincingly double for various international locations, complemented by significant and independent studio facilities and an exceptional crew to ensure high-quality productions,” he says. 

Motorhome was one of the projects Amos recently took to the Screen Forever conference. The filmmaker was part of Screen Producers Australia’s Ones to Watch cohort and was supported with a Gold Pass to the event by the City of Gold Coast. 

Christopher Amos and Brenton Thwaites at Screen Forever.

Attending the Screen Forever conference was a significant opportunity, one which allowed Amos to raise the profile of Chrysaor’s projects with distributors and commissioners, deepen existing industry connections, and cultivate alliances for future projects.  

“The event also allowed for vital networking opportunities with other participants of the Ones to Watch program, as well as my mentor, award-winning writer/director Tony Ayres. The focus was as much on pitching our work as it was on nurturing potential future collaborations,” he says. 

“Beyond establishing and enhancing connections within the Australian landscape, Screen Forever offered the chance to network with UK producers and industry insiders, which holds significant importance given that some of our projects are aimed at the UK market.”

Also supported to attend Screen Forever by the City of Gold Coast were Anna Waters-Massey and daughter Cleo of SundayArvo Productions. For the duo it was an invaluable opportunity to get in front of buyers to discuss their projects such as an 8 x 30-minute version of their successful web series Stage Mums; an 8 x 7-minute animated series, Insta Infamous; and a comedy heist feature film, Unseen, which they’re developing with another Gold Coast company, A Little Joy Productions. 

“The networking opportunities were fabulous. A lot of those people are just unreachable for me usually. It was lovely to be mixing with them as peers,” Anna says of her time at Screen Forever. 

While the Gold Coast is often synonymous with international production, Massey says the City of Gold Coast continues to be a strong supporter of the growing independent filmmaking community in the region, such as sponsoring events like the Gold Coast Film Festival. 

Shirley Pierce.

It’s a point echoed by writer Shirley Pierce, who notes the fact that the Gold Coast is a hub for footloose projects like Aquaman and Godzilla vs. Kong means the world-class expertise of crew flows through to local projects. 

“They upskill, they get jobs from the big productions and then we reap some of the benefits,” she says. 

“It certainly ends up being a winning situation for local filmmakers.” 

Pierce also attended Screen Forever as a recipient of a City of Gold Coast event pass, talking to decision makers about several projects. They include a feature dramedy aimed at the 55+ market about women on an adventure to the Great Barrier Reef, to which director Michael Rymer is attached; a millennial rom-com to be directed by Hannah Smith, and a TV series about two sisters, one white, one Black, who go on a Robin Hood-style crime spree. She felt a positive response to her projects and was impressed to see the focus on diversity and inclusion throughout conversations at Screen Forever. 

Originally from the US, Pierce notes the friendliness and community she’s felt on the Gold Coast. 

“One thing about the council is that I’ve always felt, from day one, that they were aware of what our needs were here as filmmakers. One of them was accessibility. So they’ve always worked to make sure that we had access to each other, Screen Queensland and the industry at large.”