Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich.

With Screen Forever returning to the Gold Coast this week, Queensland’s capabilities will once again be on show to local and international producers.

The Sunshine State has welcomed a broad cross-section of the screen industry throughout the past two years, having attracted 15 productions under the Federal Government’s Location Incentive Program, the latest of which is an upcoming sequel to Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla vs Kong.

IF sat down with Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich to discuss the state’s industry as it moves forward from last year’s production boom, and the key areas of focus for the agency.

IF: Queensland has been one of the main beneficiaries of the recent international production boom. What change has it brought to the state, and do you see the momentum continuing?

Kylie Munnich: We hope the momentum will continue. We were the beneficiaries of Australia being a COVID safe place to produce. Queensland took advantage of that and opened our doors, and domestic productions and international productions flooded in for which we were very grateful.

If you work in the screen industry, the one thing you want is a sustainable career, and that momentum helps people below the line keep working and go from job to job. Even things like Australian Survivor coming to Queensland and doing two seasons back-to-back, having never filmed in Australia, was a real benefit. It was filmed in Far North Queensland and injected money into those economies. 

It’s very much our plan to keep this momentum going. Sometimes it’s by design and sometimes it’s by luck but what we do is take the opportunity and harness the advantage and try to keep that work coming through the door.

What is Screen Queensland’s specific strategy to attract international and large scale domestic production?

KM: We want to have those conversations with producers – wherever they come from – if they think that there’s a stage space or if there are locations here that respond to what they want to film.

A good example is the Working Title film Ticket To Paradise, which needed a location that could double for Bali and a safe location in which to do it, of which Queensland was the obvious choice.

It took a long conversation and negotiation with the producers to make sure that Queensland and Australia could deliver what they needed, and our locations won out in that situation.

We have a long-term plan to work with as many different genres and producers as we can. We are limited by stage space in that there are Screen Queensland studios in Brisbane and Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast but we know demand is so high that there’s definitely room for more studios in our state and in Australia. I think Australia would do well to be able to take advantage of all of this activity and keep it coming to the door.

I’ve just actually returned from London where I’ve been visiting studios in the capital and just looking at the incredible scale of production going on in the UK is inspiring. I think there’s just a great opportunity for Australia, whether it’s local or international, just to keep that money cycling through the economy and keep creating jobs in screen. It really demonstrates the value of the creative industries.

The state is synonymous with the international boom but has traditionally not been as well known for television production, partly due to the presence of the broadcasters in Melbourne and Sydney. But at the moment, the state is hosting Upright and recently, Darby and Joan.

Yes and we’ve had Troppo and Irreverent, as well as two seasons of Australian Survivor and the Network Seven reality show Holey Moley earlier in the pandemic.

We don’t get those panel shows that are the mainstay of Australian television that you’ll find are filmed in Sydney or Melbourne, and of course, we don’t have long-running soap that Sydney has and Melbourne will sadly no longer have, which provides huge amounts of work and training grounds.

But we’re doing our part to attract more in the factual and reality space and there’s certainly some announcements to come about that. We want to make sure that if you’re in Australia, wherever you’re based, you know that Queensland probably has everything that you’re looking for, whether that be in drama, or reality, or unscripted. A big part of our plan is to make sure we take advantage of those productions as well.

So there is a specific strategy in terms of attracting more Australian production to Queensland?

Well yes, because we don’t want to be known only for international because we, as a state agency, exist to support our own domestic industry. It’s very important that we find opportunities and support Queensland-created stories, which we are very big advocates for.

When you think about some of the companies in Brisbane, such as Hoodlum Entertainment, The Steve Jaggi Company, WildBear, or Like a Photon Creative, we are huge supporters of that original work coming out of those companies.

We can’t take our eye off the ball; we’ve got to make sure that we’re creating work, creating support, and getting incentives and development money out into all corners of the industry and all corners of the state. We’re building studios in Cairns, which we hope to have open by later this year.

It’s part of our strategy to ensure that as much of the state can benefit from this screen boom, not just the south east corner.

Part Two will be published tomorrow.

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