18 August 2021

Canbr'ollywood inches closer with $800,000 in government funding

| Lottie Twyford
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Filming of car chase scene in movie 'Blacklight' in Canberra

Filming in Canberra for Hollywood movie Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The ACT Government has given a soundstage project a boost of more than $800,000 in funding to be included in this month’s ACT budget.

Having successfully hosted the filming of a car chase scene for Hollywood blockbuster Blacklight earlier this year, Canberra’s movie potential is beginning to be recognised internationally.

It is hoped a state-of-the-art soundstage and virtual production studio that’s currently being built in Canberra will attract high quality film and TV productions, build the local industry capability, and inject millions into the economy.

The ACT Government announced it will become a co-investor with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE), which will build and operate the facility.

It’s hoped the soundstage will form part of the ACT Government’s broader plan to help diversify the ACT’s economy and grow the labour market to 250,000 local jobs by 2025.

The development of a soundstage and virtual production studio will further boost growth in the region’s creative industries and help to enhance Canberra’s growing reputation in the film industry, according to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

“Creative industries are a growth sector globally, generating three per cent of global GDP and contributing around $90.1 billion to our national economy,” he said.

People filming on soundstage

A new soundstage is set to catapult Canberra into the filmmaking spotlight globally. Photo: Academy of Interactive Entertainment.

“Having a local state-of-the-art sound stage and virtual effects studio right here in Canberra will enable the ACT to attract a bigger proportion of that investment into the local economy.”

The AIE’s 2021 budget bid had initially asked the ACT Government to chip in $450,000 towards soundproofing and rigging lights for the project.

ACT Minister for the Arts Tara Cheyne said Canberra is home to a flourishing creative sector, and the large investment in this facility will grow career opportunities and promote the city as a screen destination.

“The arts have played a significant role in helping our community through the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute immensely to the economic, cultural and societal value of our community,” she said.

“I’m excited to see how this investment grows our screen production capability and nurtures our local talent so we can produce amazing film and TV right here in Canberra.”

READ ALSO Lights, action – Canberra! How the ACT is building a local film industry

The AIE will also use the soundstage to run a world-leading virtual production course, allowing students the chance to use top-end production facilities which will prepare them to enter the industry immediately upon completion.

The course will be run from February 2022, exposing students to a variety of filmmaking techniques currently being used in Hollywood movies.

AIE chairman and CEO John De Margheriti explained the government funding will complement the company’s investment.

“We will generate and retain more film jobs that will build up a specialised skill base in Canberra,” he said.

“It will cement Canberra as the new go-to destination for virtual production in Australia.”

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The AIE will also work in conjunction with Screen Canberra, which was responsible for the Blacklight car chase film scene in January.

Screen Canberra CEO Monica Penders welcomed the funding from the ACT Government “at absolutely the right time”.

The ACT Government is investing a total of $839,400 in both the soundstage and virtual effects studio, and AIE will also contribute significant funding towards it.

To further assist in the attraction of screen productions to Canberra, the ACT Government will provide ongoing funding through the 2021-2022 budget to Screen Canberra to lead industry development and attract productions to the Territory.

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