WA government formally calls out for studio proposals

'The Heights', shot at ABC Studios Perth.

‘The Heights’, shot at ABC Studios Perth. 

Long-mooted, a studio precinct in Western Australia looks finally set to become a reality, with the state government today formally calling for market-led proposals to build, locate and operate a Perth-based facility.

As per Minister for Local Government, Heritage, Culture and the Arts David Templeman’s announcement, the proposed facility would provide studio, digital and post-production activities to complement the state’s recent boom in location-based production due to the $16 million WA Regional Film Fund. The studio must also meet requirements of the emerging games and immersive technologies sectors.

More specifically, the proposal should include:

  • a sound stage between 2,323 square metres and 3,716 square metres (25,000ft2 to 40,000ft2) with a 15-metre ceiling and large opening doors so that trucks can drive in/out;
  • two to three smaller sound stages of at least 929 square metres (10,000ft2);
  • production offices of approximately 1,000 square metres;
  • two construction workshops of at least 675 square metres each;
  • costume, laundry, makeup and hair facilities; and
  • lock-up storage and at least 3,000 square metres of parking for trucks and vehicles.

It is envisioned that the studio would be within 20 kilometres from Perth’s CBD, close to transport hubs and able to be expanded into the future.

“WA’s screen industry is booming on several fronts and this proposal will help us capitalise on the remarkable talents and industry expertise that we have here,” Templeman said.

“We already know there is a lot of interest from WA’s screen industry in building such facilities.

“In fact, we have already received several unsolicited proposals to develop screen and studio facilities in WA.

“What we are hoping to do now is pursue a formal process to find a location and a preferred industry respondent or respondents who can work with us to make WA’s screen industry even more successful.”

As IF has reported, the WA government and Screenwest have been considering options for a film studio for some time.

The idea has gained momentum in recent months as the state looks to capitalise on its low rates of COVID-19 infection, helped along by a vocal advocate in US actor Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy), who is temporarily calling the state home during the pandemic.

“We need stages here so people can do long-term productions, not just location shoots. Build it and they will come,” she told Seven’s Flashpoint in June.

Other high profile supporters of a WA studio include Hugh Jackman (a WAAPA-grad), Mystery Road‘s Aaron Pedersen and Ben Elton.

In recent weeks local council City of Fremantle has tried to position itself as a suitable studio location, with inspections around existing industrial sites.

Of today’s announcement, Screenwest CEO Willie Rowe said: “Screenwest applauds the state government’s foresight and commitment to studio infrastructure for Western Australia. We are receiving an unprecedented volume of enquiries for projects to film in Western Australia and a lack of studio infrastructure has been a barrier to the state attracting larger budget screen productions.

Willie Rowe.

“We also believe that it is important that proposals support the local industry in addition to building the state’s capacity to attract interstate and international productions, to ensure a stable pipeline of work for our local crew and significant benefit to the WA economy.”

Production has more than doubled in WA over the last three to four years, and the state currently has a crew base that could support between two to three concurrent productions. Rowe tells IF the hope is the studios will help to grow the local industry further again into the long-term, support local production, and attract international projects that qualify for the Location Incentive Program. The government wants to move quickly; for Rowe it would be ideal if the facility was available for productions by 2022.

Applications must be submitted directly to the State Government of Western Australia by September 11.