$400 million injection for Australia's screen industry to attract international studios

$400 million injection for Australia's screen industry to attract international studios

The film and television industry is set to receive a $400 million boost from the Federal Government as part of a plan to attract overseas productions to Australia.

Dubbed the 'Location Incentive', the $400 million injection is designed to complement the Federal Government's existing 'Location Offset', and provide an effective increase in the tax offset rate from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference this afternoon the Hollywood production companies of Ron Howard and Jerry Bruckheimer had already reached out on the basis of the announcement.

"There is serious interest in basing films here in Australia," he said.

"We've already got Disney making films here, we've got the Marvel syndicate, we've got Paramount Studios - all these big studios know our potential and capability here in Australia and they've known it for many years.

"Earlier today I was able to meet with Baz Luhrmann over at the Village Roadshow studios where they're filming Elvis, and I was so encouraged by Baz's great passion for Australia which is well known, and great passion for the Australian film industry."

The PM emphasised Australia was known as a safe and productive place to make a film.

"This is an industry that can be drawn upon here in Australia to produce world-class productions, and whether it's Hollywood or Bollywood, wherever they're coming from, they know they can come here and create the films that will create great success," he said.

The funding will extend the screen incentives over seven years to ensure that international studios can commit to multiple productions over a number of years, guaranteeing local jobs both now and into the future.

The 'Location Incentive' is estimated to attract around $3 billion in foreign expenditure and should create 8,000 new employment opportunities for Australians each year.

"This investment is key to our JobMaker plan to create jobs, boost local business activity, and provide training and skills," Morrison said.

"Behind these projects are thousands of workers that build and light the stages, that feed, house and cater for the huge cast and crew and that bring the productions to life.

"This is backing thousands of Australians who make their living working in front of the camera and behind the scenes in the creative economy."

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said the expanded program meant Australia's film and television industry would be firing on all cylinders as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

"The Location Incentive is an economic multiplier. It will sustain the vitality of Australian screen production and support jobs and local businesses," Minister Fletcher said.

"Through this additional commitment, the Government is telling the world that Australia is a desirable destination for screen production with great locations, skilled crews, world-class talent, post-production expertise and state of the art facilities."

To date, the Government has announced funding of $123 million for 10 productions through the existing Location Incentive including Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in Sydney, Godzilla vs Kong on the Gold Coast, Shantaram and The Alchemyst in Melbourne. These 10 projects are estimated to generate spending of around $1 billion, support 8,500 local jobs over multiple years and engage more than 9,000 Australian businesses.

However, the additional $400 million boost for international filmmakers comes as the Federal Government is cutting $5 million in funding per year for ABC independent productions, equating to a roughly $35 million blow over the same seven year period.

The extra funding comes as the Queensland film industry is back on set, with two productions restarting including Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic and rom-com feature film This Little Love of Mine.

Queensland Premier Gladys Berejiklian noted in June that the film and television industry had been hit hard by COVID-19.

"While the global pandemic may have forced productions into hiatus, the Queensland Screen industry has still been active - doing what they do best, creating and developing until productions can recommence," Berejiklian said.

"Screen Queensland established a Queensland Screen Industry Task Force and announced a $3.3 million COVID-19 support package to support Queensland writers and producers and businesses.

"I look forward to announcing the start of more productions in our State soon, that are getting people back to work and our economy recovering."

The expansion of the Location Incentive comes on top of $250 million over the next 12 months to help restart the creative economy, including $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and recommence filming for productions that have largely been halted due to the challenges in accessing insurance coverage for COVID-19.

Originally published at 11:31am, updated at 3:22pm AEST on 17 July 2020.

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