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

Ian Bushnell 11 January 2021 79
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.

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79 Responses to Roads to close in Civic as Hollywood takes advantage of Canberra’s very particular set of skills
Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 3:09 pm 12 Jan 21

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

Joy Grace Rita Kosciuk Joy Grace Rita Kosciuk 12:52 pm 12 Jan 21

Traffic being stopped for a couple of hours should not be a huge problem - they usually do it on a Sunday when it is quiet anyway!!

    Marcia Peel Marcia Peel 9:38 pm 14 Jan 21

    Joy Grace Rita Kosciuk it’s 4 solid days of it, and as a resident of the building they are filming around it’s not as simple as you seem to think.

Andrew Lockie Andrew Lockie 12:02 pm 12 Jan 21 the merry go round

Julie Berzins Julie Berzins 11:22 am 12 Jan 21

Abbey Davis pity I don’t think Liam Neeson will be there but if you spot him I want pics

    Abbey Davis Abbey Davis 1:51 pm 12 Jan 21

    Julie Berzins hahaha he has been spotted in Canberra already hehe if I see him I deffs will try to steal a picture!

    Julie Berzins Julie Berzins 2:42 pm 12 Jan 21

    Abbey Davis oooh really?

Alice Downing Alice Downing 11:02 am 12 Jan 21

William Downing Alison Mount this is the story I tried to tell last night 🤣👍🏻

Sarah-Jane Powderly Sarah-Jane Powderly 10:58 am 12 Jan 21

Laura Jayne so you and james are gonna have fun this week with this, hey?

Julie Short Julie Short 10:50 am 12 Jan 21

Ellen O'Neill , Adam Short pretty cool.

Ida-Denis Broz Ida-Denis Broz 10:27 am 12 Jan 21

Amy Windsor FYI for when you’re in the office this week

Josephine Donato Josephine Donato 10:24 am 12 Jan 21

Ben Zolfaghari Liam Neeson in Canberra 😀

    Hugh Munro Hugh Munro 11:56 am 12 Jan 21

    Josephine Donato he won't be here. It's a stunt double doing the scene.

José Horacio Paz Vermal José Horacio Paz Vermal 9:13 am 12 Jan 21

Emma Manners good luck

April Carolyn April Carolyn 8:41 am 12 Jan 21

Kylie Reid how cool is this!

Zoe Robinson Zoe Robinson 8:24 am 12 Jan 21

Couldn't pick a quieter area

Rona Mellor Rona Mellor 8:22 am 12 Jan 21

Tilly Cave you’re surrounded 🤭

Xuan Le Xuan Le 8:21 am 12 Jan 21

I love his action style

Mike Mikeyp Mike Mikeyp 8:20 am 12 Jan 21

This is bringing local jobs and is awesome! Look what happened to Vancouver when Hollywood started using them for movies. Huge amount of direct and indirect jobs. Awesome.

Eleni Billie George Eleni Billie George 8:15 am 12 Jan 21

Kurt Ainsaar see Canberra’s cool ... still trying to convince you guys lol

    Kurt Ainsaar Kurt Ainsaar 8:23 am 12 Jan 21

    Eleni Billie George if it’s good enough for Liam Neeson then it’s good enough for me

Ashlee Cornthwaite Ashlee Cornthwaite 7:44 am 12 Jan 21

Cahla!!! Where am I going to park!? 😑

    Cahla Dean Cahla Dean 11:07 am 12 Jan 21

    Ashlee Cornthwaite All the car parks will be open. They will just have lollipop men letting ppl in and out

Colin Grant Colin Grant 7:28 am 12 Jan 21

Wahoo, Canberra!

Adam Last Adam Last 7:27 am 12 Jan 21

Just for god's sake do not give them any tax breaks.

Natalie Udler Natalie Udler 7:06 am 12 Jan 21

Alex Richards how will Canberrans cope 😹😹😹

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