Western Australia ponders the options for a film studio

Willie Rowe.

Willie Rowe.

Aiming to fill a yawning gap in the state’s film infrastructure, the Western Australian Government and Screenwest are working on options for a film studio.

While no specifics have been revealed, David Templeman, the Minister for Culture and the Arts, Local Government and Heritage, and Screenwest CEO Willie Rowe have expressed enthusiasm for the facility, which has been mooted for many years.

The project gained momentum last week when US actress Kate Walsh (Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why) appeared on the Channel 7 Perth program Flashpoint with Templeman, Rowe and Komixx Entertainment head of global production Amanda Morrison.

Walsh, who was holidaying in WA when the pandemic struck and has happily stayed there, said she had met the Minister, Screenwest and Morrison and asked, “Why aren’t we shooting here?” She was told: “We need stages.”

The actress said she has an idea for a TV show set in a port city which she would love to shoot in Fremantle, observing: “We need stages here so people can do long-term productions, not just location shoots. Build it and they will come.”

Noting he had visited the film studios in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Adelaide earlier this year, Templeman said: “We are looking at the model that might best suit WA to meet demand and keep the very creative people who produce in the State, rather than having them move east or internationally.”

Rowe said Screenwest is looking at the potential level of financial support from government and parts of the industry.

“We’ve doubled the value of production in the State in the past few years so we now see there is an ongoing demand to shoot in WA,” Rowe said. “To have that studio is the next step.”

Rowe tells IF: “Western Australia has been in the market for a studio for a number of years. The recent traction gained from advocacy from Hollywood actor Kate Walsh has been exceptionally fortuitous for the cause. We are meeting with State Government stakeholders to progress this in the coming weeks.”

On a separate front, Rowe said in a webinar last week with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner he is looking to reallocate funding to help post-production, but not at the expense of production funding.

Longer term, Rowe is keen to see WA introduce a PDV incentive similar to that in other states to sustain the post sector and enable it to expand.