Friendly lure for filmmakers

Sarah Ison and Kent AcottBusselton Dunsborough Times
Director Tyson Morawin together with director of production Torstein Dryting.
Camera IconDirector Tyson Morawin together with director of production Torstein Dryting. Credit: ScreenWest

Filming activity in regional WA has skyrocketed in the past 18 months and is set to reach greater heights after the launch of the Film Friendly Initiative, which will open up communities across the State to even more projects.

Screenwest officially launched the initiative on March 21, which aims to “smooth the path” for incoming filmmakers to WA and boost communities’ effectiveness in attracting productions.

The announcement comes on the back of “unprecedented activity” in WA’s film industry, with back-to-back productions shooting in locations all over the State in the past couple of years.

Feature films such as Jasper Jones, Breath, Go Karts, H is For Happiness, Itch, Dirt Music, Below, and Rams, have all been shot — or are being shot — across regional WA since the beginning of 2017.

Screenwest is seeking to keep this growing momentum going and increase the attractiveness of the regions to prospective film companies by offering local councils and public agencies a range of resources and training programs to make them more “film-friendly”.

Screenwest chief executive Willie Rowe said the hope was to give communities the skills to market their resources and effectively deal with on-location filming.

“A place’s film-friendly reputation is vital,” he said.

“We have developed a range of resources to help communities recognise what sets them apart and how they can use that to attract a production.”

The program aims to cut red tape by working with councils to offer producers no or low-fee applications for filming; adoption of standardised and streamlined permit application forms; searchable location images tagged to each region; and tools to help balance filming requests with the needs of the local area.

Minister for Culture and the Arts David Templeman said there had been definite growth in the screen industry over the past two years, which had caught attention both nationally and overseas.

“The activity in volume is quite unprecedented,” he said.

“Foreign film interest through China and including Indonesia have been increasing.”

Recently, Chinese filmmakers Truly Sense Media scouted locations in the North West ahead of their film, Pilbara: A Grand Adventure, which they hope to co-produce with local WA company Legend Media Group.

The visit followed shooting by major Chinese broadcaster Hunan TV on the Rockingham foreshore in January for the hit reality TV show Viva La Romance.

Local film tourism expert, Edith Cowan University’s Associate Professor Sean Kim, said WA was on the cusp of becoming a major hub for Asia’s lucrative film and television industry, but more needed to be done to entice producers to WA.

“There is so much potential to attract major Asian television series, variety shows and films to Perth and WA,” Professor Kim said.

“The economic windfall for the State would be huge.

“There is a real appetite across Asia, especially in South Korea and China, for new and unique locations.”

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