‘There’s nobody that doesn’t like going to Australia’ – Ron Howard outlines appeal of the Sunshine State

Schuyler Weiss speaks to Ron Howard and Bill Connor at Screen Forever on Thursday.

US director Ron Howard gave a ringing endorsement of Australia’s appeal as a production destination at Screen Forever last Thursday, encouraging the country to maintain the status quo regarding its incentives.

In a week where the perception of Australia on the global stage was discussed at length across various sessions, Howard offered his view alongside long-time producing partner and collaborator Bill Connor in a session moderated by Bazmark managing director Schuyler Weiss.

Howard and Connor are now in post-production on Eden, a survival thriller about a group of people who, fuelled by a desire for change, turn their back on society and set their futures on the harsh landscape of the volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The film, which stars Jude Law, Ana de Armas, Vanessa Kirby, Daniel Brühl, and Sydney Sweeney, began shooting in Queensland at the end of last year with support from Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy and the Federal Government’s Location Incentive.

It comes after the pair shot Thirteen Lives, inspired by the Thai caves rescue, on the Gold Coast in 2021, receiving a $13 million grant via the Location Incentive Program, and support from the state government.

Speaking in response to a question from Weiss about whether Australia could be doing anything more to boost its appeal internationally, Howard said the country didn’t need to alter its path, noting that was “saying a lot”.

“That incentive remains really key,” he said.

“As talented as everyone is and as much as the infrastructure grows and facilities present themselves, [the incentive] makes it an easier decision for anyone on the planet that wants to work on something.

“If they can be more ambitious about what they want to do, creatively, and the economics will allow for that, and there is no reason not to go, you’re going to be able to do your best work there.”

He added Australians had “done a good job of exporting a culture that people feel a lot of affection for and it does sustain itself through the experience”.

“There’s no compromising whatsoever – it is exciting and an advantage,” he said.

“People like Australia and I’m just speaking as a foreigner. There’s nobody that doesn’t like going to Australia.”

Read more about the Screen Forever sessions in the next IF print issue.