Australia has a very compelling film and TV production offering. In addition to talented crews, world class studios and state-of-the-art post-production, it also boasts breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, varying from bush, national parks and lush rainforest to spectacular marine life, unspoilt coastline, long sandy beaches, tropical islands, mystical ancient aboriginal culture and cosmopolitan cities.
There is also a supportive incentive package on offer (administered by film funding agency Screen Australia). Federal government financial incentives include a 16.5% Location Rebate, a 30% Qualifying PDV Expenditure (QAPE) Rebate for post-production/VFX and a 40% Producer Offset (40% films, 20% television, including official coproduction treaty projects). On top of all this, there are also funds and incentives from state governments.
Screen Australia works in tandem with Ausfilm, which promotes Australia to international producers and companies. This is an Australian industry-government partnership comprising federal and state governments, the major studios and the leading production and post-production service providers. The organisation can offer information on all aspects of filming in the country including production incentives, studio complexes, travel services and equipment providers.
One positive in recent times has been the decline in the value of the Australian dollar, which has made the country even more appealing for big budget international film and TV productions. The erosion of the local currency vs the US dollar looks set to continue in 2016.
Also worth noting is that Australia has a number of co-productions treaties with countries around the world. Official co-production arrangements are handled by the Australian Ministry for the Arts.
Australia Capital Territory (ACT) is the smallest self-governing territory in Australia with Canberra, the national capital being the largest city which is home to nearly all the inhabitants. Canberra is a planned city and notorious for hot, dry summers and cold winters. ACT also has a small strip of territory, Jervis Bay, situated on the Beecroft peninsula on the coast south of Sydney.
The ACT Screen Industry Association has a wealth of information on the advantages of filming locally.
New South Wales is the most populous state in Australia with roughly 7.5 million inhabitants. The state is the 5th largest in area within Australia excluding the Australian Antarctic Territory. The state provides a range of climates and terrains from the subtropical far north, temperate south and the Snowy Mountains.
The state capital, Sydney, is a thriving cosmopolitan city that has a wide range of resources catering for varying forms of productions. With Australia showing resilience in the global financial crisis, Sydney has comfortably secured its position as the main hub for media in Australasia.
Although the strength of the Australian dollar in recent years has undoubtedly increased production costs, New South Wales's geographical versatility along with a highly skilled workforce still make it a great place for film, television and commercials.
New South Wales funds an extensive website entitled Screen NSW which provides a range of information about filming in the state, and in 2016 the state launched a $20m Made in NSW film and TV fund designed to attract more high-profile shoots to the state.
The Northern Territory presents many unique locations to the film maker. The dry rugged terrain in the centre contrasts with the lush tropical rainforests of the north and is complemented by the 40,000 year old history of the indigenous Aboriginal people. The spectacular Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are sacred Aboriginal rock formations which have become major tourist attractions. In addition the Kakadu National Park provides an ecologically and biologically diverse location.
NT is the third largest state in Australia but is sparsely populated by only 233,000 people. The capital is Darwin on the north coast but the population is spread along the Stuart Highway which runs from Darwin down through the state and on into Southern Australia to bisect the country from North to South.
Queensland in Australia's north-east offers natural beauty ranging from untouched rainforest to the Great Barrier Reef. The state has been at the heart of Australia's mineral boom and subsequently the region has seen a huge amount of investment in recent years. Brisbane, the state capital, is now thriving and at last giving Sydney and Melbourne a run for their money. Gold Coast has its own film office because the city is so popular with high-profile US productions.
As the industry grows in Brisbane so does the pool of local talent. The central website for all things film and TV is Screen Queensland.
South Australia offers filmmakers geographic contrasts with an extensive coastline, rugged outback wilderness, the 650 kilometre Murray River and scenic mountain ranges. The outdoor lifestyle is encouraged by 2,500 hours of sunshine. The state capital Adelaide has a population of 1.25 million and has a reputation as Australia’s arts capital and a thriving film and media industry boosted by the recent opening of Adelaide Studios.
South Australia has a rich history in screen production, providing the backdrop and base for many iconic film and television productions that have contributed to the economic, social and cultural fabric of South Australia. There are funding initiatives for film and TV and active support and encouragement from the South Australian film corporation.
Tasmania is known as “the natural state” and the “Island of Inspiration”. An island state 240 miles to the south of the Australian continent with a population of just half a million and a large and unspoilt natural environment, it has national parks and World Heritage Sites to attract both visitors and filmmakers. The people are friendly and welcoming and the relaxed island lifestyle combines with good food and wine to set it apart from most locations.
Hobart is the capital and half of the population reside there. The compact nature of Tasmania combines with an amazing range of landscapes to provide a cost effective environment for filming. There is a very positive administration with regard to funding and support to complement the natural resources of the state. Screen Tasmania is the main state portal for information on funding and incentives.
Victoria is a state rich in both scenic and cultural attractions situated in the south-eastern corner of Australia with a population of 5.5 million. Victoria calls itself the garden state which refers to the rolling green hills and valleys which dominate the geography. In addition agriculture, oil and mining and manufacturing ensure a dynamic and high value growth base for Australia and more than 34 per cent of the national labour force is employed in the factories of Victoria.
Victoria accounts for 45 per cent of Australia’s communications and computer industry providing a well-qualified and flexible workforce. More specifically for film makers there is a large home grown base of actors, talented and flexible crews and inspiring locations. State of the art studio facilities and internationally recognised post production and VFX capabilities complement the natural advantages of the state.
The vibrant city of Melbourne is known as the nation’s cultural capital with an abundance of live shows in theatres around the city. Film Victoria is the website providing assistance to prospective film and media investors to the state.
Western Australia is closer to Singapore than it is to Canberra and its location on the Indian Ocean presents unique opportunities for film making with an average of eight hours sunshine per day and a Mediterranean climate in the south west. Abundant natural resources ensure that the economy is strong and this is producing and attracting an adaptable and skilled workforce. There are 2.4 million inhabitants largely centred in the south west corner of the state and they enjoy a higher median income than the rest of the country.
Perth’s international airport handles flights servicing Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Numerous daily air services carry passengers and freight to and from Sydney and Melbourne. Perth is home to one of Australia’s leading performing arts institutions and the birthplace of many notable actors and TV personalities. The state source of information and assistance is Screen West.
International movies have been particlarly drawn to Queensland in recent years, with high-profile productions including Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, Dwayne Johnson's earthquake disaster film San Andreas and Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean 5, while Sydney has hosted Ridley Scott's sci-fi sequel Alien: Covenant.
Blake Lively's 2016 shark attack drama The Shallows filmed in Queensland and on the remote Australian territory of Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea.
Australia has also hosted international animation projects and post-production work. The Lego Movie was made by Animal Logic in Sydney and the Deluxe-owned Australian VFX house Iloura has provided key effects work for Game of Thrones.
Different filming permits need to be obtained depending on what location is being used. A full comprehensive guide can be found the Screen ACT website.
New South Wales
Permission to film in Sydney itself must be sought via the City of Sydney's website. An application fee ranging from AU$165-AU$550 depending on the size of the production is charged along with a daily rate. Should a production team wish to film in a public space then they must consult directly with that area's specific police force. More information can be found at the City of Sydney website.
An application form for filming in Darwin can be found here. Fees for commercial filming are $124 per day and $62 for half a day or less.
Further information on filming in other Northern territory councils as well as national parks and Indigenous land can be found here.
It should be noted that filming at Uluru/Ayres Rock is subject to strict guidelines and protocol due its sacred significance to the indigenous community.
In 2010 Queensland launched the film-friendly pathways programme. Part of this programme includes key contacts in Queensland’s local councils specifically dealing with filming enquiries. Click here for a full list of the councils and their contact details.
For filming in Brisbane itself a form has to be filled out by the production company and a flat fee is paid. The form and more details can be found here. As of 1 July 2012 the Filming in Brisbane Permit Fee is $589.00.
Commercial Production Companies with less than 20 people and deemed as low impact for the location or with a budget of $100,000 or less will have the fee waived once proof has been provided.
Filming permits for Adelaide currently cost AU$115 per day with no limitations on the number of locations used. Public liability insurance must be provided along with an application form; click here for details.
For information on filming elsewhere in the state, please go to the South Australian Film Corporation website.
As stated on the Hobart city council website commercial filming permits for parks, gardens and bush land reserves cost AU$625 per day and AU$300 for a half day. Information about filming in Tasmania's national parks along with costs can be found here. For information and guidance about filming in Tasmania companies or individuals should contact Screen Tasmania via [email protected] .
Any filming in Melbourne with a crew of over six people requires a permit. If a crew is smaller than six it is considered to be 'low impact' filming. When the production is deemed to be 'low impact' it still needs public liability insurance. A copy of this insurance along with filming plans must be submitted to the filming office. More information about low impact is available by contacting [email protected] .
A permit for more substantial productions can be obtained via the Enterprise Melbourne website. There is an application fee of AU$50 and the permits are initially charged on an hourly basis of AU$250 per hour. For up to four hours is AU$600, and there is a day rate of AU$1200. If needed a unit base fee is also charged at AU$500 per day. Along with these fees a detailed description of filming plans also needs to be submitted.
Filming on any road in Victoria requires a permit. This should be obtained from the local authority at least 7-10 days before filming is due to take place. For more information click here.
Geelong, located an hour south of Melbourne also has a website with information about filming in the area.
Filming permits are required for all National Parks, Indigenous lands and most towns.
To film in Perth permission can be gained via the city council. Permit fees are as follows AU$75.00 for a standard permit, AU$145.00 for permits that require a road closure, AU$265.50 for filming with a significant obstruction of roads.
More information can be found here.
Productions wishing to film in other towns should contact the local council. An extensive list of local governments and regional councils in Western Australia can be found by clicking here. .
Particular care must be taken when filming includes aboriginal land and people. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs website is a useful resource.
New South Wales
Fox studios, a stone’s throw from central Sydney is Australia's largest Film and Television studio. The studios are home to sound stages ranging from 750sqm to 3500sqm. In addition to this the studios have multiple other benefits such as office space and onsite catering. More information can be found at Fox Studios Australia..
Global Television studios are also located near the Sydney Central Business District. There are two studios to choose from which can be hired on anything from a daily to long term basis. More information can be found at Global TV.
Sun Studios which is also close to the CBD has a range of studios that would suit smaller productions, Sun Studio Australia.
Down Under Studios located in the North of Sydney should be considered for smaller productions
Village Roadshow Studios is the state’s biggest studio complex. Located just outside the Gold Coast, 45 minutes south of Brisbane, the studios comprise of eight sound studios and three water tanks. A detailed description including technical specifications can be found on their website Movie World Studios.
Red Brick Studios in Brisbane offer two studios. Studio 1 is 27x12m and Studio 2 11x10m. The studio provides some equipment free of additional charge such as camera stands, tripods and dollies as well as renting lighting equipment. More information can be found at Red Brick Studios.
Adelaide studios located just five minutes from the Central Business District provide two sound stages. Completed in 2011 the studios also house numerous film related businesses. More information can be found at Adelaide Studios..
The 300m2 ABC Adelaide studio is available for hire. More information along with contact details and technical specifications can be found at the ABC website.
Located in Hobart Cinestill has a 7m x 9m studio available for hire costing AU$110 per hour with lighting and AU$55 per hour without lighting.
In recent years, Docklands Studios in Melbourne has played host to some big Hollywood productions. A world class facility including five sound stages with a combined total of 6318 m2 and a 6920 m2 workshop is located just a stone’s throw from the city centre. Its website has more information.
Also located in Melbourne, Premier Studios offer a well-established smaller studio facility. Further information can be found via their website Premier Studios.
ABC's Perth studio is available for hire. Comprised of a 600m2 sound stage it is located in the centre of the city. More information including booking enquiries can be found at their website.
Sydney is home to numerous post-production facilities. Monkey Hut is a good starting point. Deluxe Stage One Sound in Sydney provides complete sound post-production and re-recording stages. Rising Sun Pictures in Adelaide has worked on big budget films such as Gravity (2013), The Hunger Games (2012) and Prometheus (2012).
Countrywide, Australia can offer a vast range of varying locations, including mountains, deserts and cosmopolitan cities with both modern and period architecture.
ACT and Capital Region offers an array of locations. The region’s pristine coastline is backed by untouched hinterlands and rainforests. The highest mountain in Australia is here. Vineyards, farmland and grassy plains combine with quaint villages full of colonial architecture. The National capital, Canberra, is a mix of monumental buildings and urban cityscapes.
The distinctive seasonal weather, from snow in winter to hot, dry summers, provides ideal settings for filmmakers.
New South Wales
Australia's famous Great Dividing Range runs parallel to New South Wales's coast. This gives huge variation in the type of terrain that is available in the state. The coast boasts endless world class beaches, and outside the major metropolitan areas they are often deserted. To the west of the range the terrain gradually becomes more arid as the famous Australian outback quickly takes shape.
To get a detailed overview of the type of terrain in New South Wales visit the Screen NSW website where there is an extensive photo gallery of the types of locations available.
Along with the famous Harbour front, Sydney is well known for its variety of architecture. The Central Business District (or CBD) has the look and feel of an American city. Tall, modern-looking skyscrapers dominate the streets flanked on the east side by St James Park, The Domain and Botanic Gardens. The CBD can be well seen as a whole from either Moore Park or the North Shore.
Around the suburbs of Darlinghurst, Paddington and Surry Hills, Sydney's colonial past is clear to see, with terraces of Victorian houses nestled between some impressive buildings such as the Darlinghurst Courthouse.
Perhaps the most famous of New South Wales's national parks is The Blue Mountains National Park. With its unique rock faces and stunning vistas it is also the most accessible being only a two hour drive from Sydney.
Northern Territory provides filmmakers with outstanding locations due to the diversity of the landscape. From deserts dotted with amazing sandstone and rock ranges, including the world famous Uluru, to the grassy plains and tropical rainforests of the Top End. Here there is a wealth of waterfalls, rivers, gorges, lakes and white beaches.
The World Heritag- listed Kakadu National Park, about three hours east of Darwin, is a varied and impressive location. The seasonal changes are dramatic and the local Aboriginal people divide the year into six seasons. There are numerous rivers and gorges, as well as thundering waterfalls. The Gunlam Falls were the scene of Echo Pool in the film Crocodile Dundee.
The impressive Kings Canyon, southwest of Alice Springs, has walls over 100 metres high. As well as Uluru the town of Alice Springs is a popular location with its remote outback setting.
The sheer size of Queensland means that it is home to a wide variety of locations. Mostly inhabited in the South East any locations requiring a city scape would go to either Brisbane or the Gold coast. Brisbane has an impressive, modern skyline. The Central Business District, where most of the skyscrapers are, can be viewed well from Kangaroo point or the South Bank which are on the south side of the Brisbane River.
It would be hard for anywhere on the planet to rival Queensland when it comes to beaches. Productions looking for a picture postcard paradise location are spoilt for choice. Some of the best include Fraser Island 120 miles north of Brisbane, Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, Noosa beach on the Sunshine coast and Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
The Daintree forest is the world oldest rainforest and is easily accessible from Port Douglas. Architecturally, the state is home to many 'Old Queenslander' houses. Built from the 1840's onwards they are unique to the state and northern parts of New South Wales. Raised up and traditionally made of wood, visually they can offer an authentic Australian look.
Much of South Australia enjoys a temperate Mediterranean – type climate which allows shooting all year round. Adelaide, the state capital, is a compact city and close to many rural locations.
The state has a range of spectacular and unspoilt locations. SA Film shows different types of location under the headings – Arid/Rural/Urban/Heritage and Coastal.
Unusual locations in South Australia include:
- Coober Pedy – an opal mining area in the harsh outback of South Australia. Half the population live in underground dugouts to avoid the summer heat. The impressive red lunar plains are ideal for filming desert scenery.
- Flinders Range – one of the oldest landscapes on earth with spectacular peaks, ridges and gorges. Colours change from grey/blue at dawn to deep red at dusk. There is abundant wildlife.outh Australia.
For filming on location Tasmania has an amazing range of landscapes and offers filming opportunities in a compact environment. Deserts, coastline, temperate rainforests, colonial towns and rural areas are all within easy reach of each other.
In films located in Tasmania the landscape is generally a focal point. The Tasmanian Highlands in the centre of the island are a conservation area with wild, rugged scenery and numerous lakes.
Another favourite film location is Mount Wellington, which overlooks the capital Hobart, and is frequently snow covered, even in summer.
The Upper Florentine Valley is an area of low–lying valleys and flats which are largely covered with temperate rainforest and a mere 3 hour drive from the capital.
Victoria has a great deal to offer the filmmaker. From the ranges of Mount Macedon to the open plains stretching to the Murray River, the state encompasses a myriad of landscapes.
The unspoilt Gannawarra area has lakes and rivers, wetlands and swamps, as well as vast tracts of red gum forests.
Wedderburn in Loddon Shire is an example of many old gold mining towns, where the buildings and streets retain their original features and charm. Mount Macedon itself is becoming a very popular location with the US film industry. The architecture and the flora of the area closely resemble places in the Northern Hemisphere, but with lower filming costs and it is only 64 km from the capital, Melbourne..
Western Australia is renowned for long periods of clear blue sky and the clarity of light, which makes it ideal for filming. The state is a film friendly location for feature films, dramas and commercial productions. Screenwest has an extensive locations gallery online.
This gives an instant visual impression of the wide variety of locations available in Western Australia – rural and urban settings, from golden beaches to the outback, deserts and rainforests of the North to the karri forests of the South West.
Two locations of particular note are Wolf Creek, a meteorite crater used in the 2005 horror film of the same name and Wave Rock, 340 km east of Perth. This giant surf-wave shaped granite rock appears about to crash into the surrounding bush. Both are atmospheric and unique locations.
New South Wales
As would be expected, Sydney has a wealth of resources that can provide equipment for every type of production. Lemac has an extensive range of equipment from mini cams to 35mm film cameras to lighting. Video Craft also have a good range of equipment although do not supply film cameras.
Any high-end equipment should be brought in from elsewhere in Australia.
Cinehire has a good range of equipment including Arri Alexa.
Hobart based Cinestill have a Panasonic AF102 for hire as well as a range of lenses and accessories.
Vahire has an extensive range of equipment including cameras such as the Arri Alexa plus and Phantom Flex.
Lemac has a Melbourne office that has an extensive range of equipment from mini cams and 35mm film cameras to lighting.
Videocraft specialises in equipment for broadcast.
Located in Leerderville, just north of the city centre, Location Equipment rent a wide range of equipment including cameras by Red and Arri.