11 January 2021

Roads to close in Civic as Hollywood takes advantage of Canberra's very particular set of skills

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson stars in Blacklight, some of which is being shot in Canberra this week. Photos: Ben King.

A Hollywood blockbuster starring Liam Neeson will film for nine days in Canberra commencing this Thursday, closing some roads and footpaths in Civic, as well as some bus stops.

To facilitate the filming and ensure the safety of all involved, Transport Canberra and City Services says full road and footpath closures are required at the following locations from Thursday, 14 January to Sunday, 17 January:

  • London Circuit from Constitution Avenue to Ainslie Avenue
  • Akuna Street from London Circuit to Cooyong Street
  • Bunda Street from Petrie Street to Binara Street
  • Binara Street from Akuna Street to Allara Street
  • Allara Street from Binara Street to Constitution Avenue
  • Nangari Street from Allara Street to London Circuit
  • Rabaul Lane from Nangari Street to Akuna Street.

In the event of wet weather during this period, additional closures will be in place on Monday, 18 January and Tuesday, 19 January.

These closures will limit access to these streets for road users, pedestrians and cyclists during filming. On-street parking on these streets will also not be permitted during filming.

Access will be managed for local residents and to local businesses.

Nightly road closures will also be in place on the following roads from Monday, 18 January to Friday, 22 January between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am:

  • Wilden Street, Murden Street and William Clemens Street in the city centre
  • access to Tambreet Street from Majura Road, both northbound and southbound
  • a rolling road closure on Parkes Way between Wendouree Drive and Clunies Ross Street.
Road closures

Some roads will be affected by the film shoot. Image: Supplied.

Canberra’s budding film industry hopes a Hollywood blockbuster shoot on the streets of the CBD will pave the way for more movie roles for the national capital.

Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson, has a budget of $54 million and is currently shooting in Melbourne, but Canberra has been chosen as the location for a crucial car chase sequence, which will use world-leading pre-visualisation technology to transform Canberra into downtown Washington DC.

The shoot will create employment for up to 60 local crew and is expected to bring more than $1.5 million of investment into the city, including a boost for hotels and hospitality venues.

It is also an opportunity for Canberra to demonstrate its capability to host this type of technical production and provide the opportunity for local crews to gain experience on a large-scale movie production.

Screen Canberra CEO Monica Penders said Canberra offered a much easier environment than the bigger cities to shoot such scenes, with its particular street configuration and less disruption to traffic.

She said the stunt director for Blacklight, who has shot car chases all over the world, told her that Canberra was one of the best places in the world for this type of work.

”Logistically it’s a lot easier,” she said. ”They’re shutting down 40 streets for the shoot, in Melbourne and other locations it’s 20 streets.”

The Blacklight team has already been to Canberra for a one-day locations shoot last month. The material from that has been fed into a games platform called Unreal Engine, which maps the car chase and then substitutes the Canberra streetscape for Washington DC.

Ms Penders said the project could open up a whole raft of other opportunities for Canberra.

”It’s not the first time I’ve been told by incoming productions that we could sub for smaller north American towns like Boston,” she said.

Screen Canberra will package material from the shoot into its marketing to pitch to studios and producers for future productions.

Mark Williams

Blacklight director Mark Williams on set.

She said it had connections with studios in Australia and Los Angeles and Sydney-based Ausfilm, the organistation charged with enticing production companies to make movies in this country.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in the US, many productions such as Blacklight are moving here.

”Australia and Canberra is being inundated by calls from overseas production companies to come and shoot here,” Ms Penders said.

”We have probably been the busiest we’ve been, from October to the first quarter of this year, in years.”

The TV political drama Total Control series 2 hits screens soon, a horror film called Sissy wrapped before Christmas, a Netflix documentary is being shot in Namadgi National Park and two reality TV shows have shot segments in Canberra.

Screen Canberra is also courting a children’s TV series, which would provide a great training ground for local crew.

Ms Penders said Canberra was unlikely to attract whole productions ”but to take chunks out of this international interest is really important, given our size”.

The other aspect to the number of big international productions flowing to Australia was that smaller films and Australian productions were being bumped out of the bigger cities and looking for other locations such as Canberra

Ms Penders said the interest in Canberra was unlikely to dry up once the pandemic was over, particularly from Australian projects and the TV and small-screen productions feeding the growing demand from streamers.

And will filmgoers be able to spot any Canberra landmarks? Not likely, Ms Penders said, but sharp-eyed Canberrans might.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Capital Retro8:33 am 15 Jan 21

Looking at the video on ABC TV news last night of some of the “action”, it appears that this is going to be an ultra-violent movie.

Why is Canberra condoning violence by participating in this folly?

Master_Bates11:33 pm 14 Jan 21

Andrew Ball – Sadly I can’t respond to you because your on FB and I am not.

You said “They can shut the road down for their car stuffs but when canberra people do it its called hooning”

When the road is shut down – and access for non participants is removed, and when you have a qualified stunt driver driving, you are welcome to drive a dump truck along the sidewalk. Thats why its called filming, and has risk assessments.

When a bunch of hooligans drive dangerously, 20 feet away from pedestrian traffic, without having (a) the risk assessment, (b) the formal stunt training, and (c) the huge insurance, they can go to jail, and have their cars crushed.

See the difference?????

Capital Retro8:36 am 13 Jan 21

“The shoot will create employment for up to 60 local crew and is expected to bring more than $1.5 million of investment into the city, including a boost for hotels and hospitality venues.”

It will also probably take twice as much money from other businesses who will have their access severely impaired.

Personally, I couldn’t give a rats about Liam what’s-his-name.

HiddenDragon7:37 pm 12 Jan 21

“….which will use world-leading pre-visualisation technology to transform Canberra into downtown Washington DC.”

This technology could also be very helpful in therapy (fantasy?) sessions for pollies, staffers, lobbyists, journos etc. who have trouble coming to terms with the fact that they’re in Canberra, not in the Washington of Jed Bartlet, Francis Underwood or (dare I say it) Olivia Pope…….

How do you know it’s a blockbuster ahead of filming, let alone release?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.