ACTOR Colin Firth (pictured) attracted a throng of photographers and fans when he hit the Gold Coast last month to be filmed in scenes of Jonathan Teplitzky’s prisoner-of war movie The Railway Man.

And he’s not the first Hollywood talent to send a wave of excitement across the city.

The Gold Coast is back in the frame as a premier filming destination. And smart local businesses are cashing in by providing support through transport, catering and security.

Since 2010, 12 film and television productions, valued at $186 million, have been shot within the city and its picturesque
and unique surrounds.

But the Coast’s return as a film production hub is not by chance, particularly when set against the recent rise in strength of the Australian dollar.

Unlike in the 1990s when the weak Australian dollar made it cheap for Americans to film here, the new revival of our film industry is being done on its merits.

According to the head of film and television at Bond University, Dr Michael Sergi, the Gold Coast has done a great job promoting the region as film-friendly. And the facilities here are world class, says Sergi.

“Village Roadshow Studio’s state-of-the-art film production facilities [at Oxenford], the diverse location options and the talented film technicians on the Gold Coast contribute to this success,” he says.

Village Roadshow Studios president Lynne Benzie believes an increase in local productions has fuelled the recent boost, along with a number of projects reaching the set after years in the pipeline.

She says the industry should remain stable into the future, regardless of fluctuations in the value of the Australian dollar, because of the strength of local productions.

“The biggest difference over the last three years is that these days the industry focuses in attracting more local productions rather than just concentrating on international projects,” says Benzie.

Those local productions include the filming of the revived television reality series Big Brother at Dreamworld later this year.

“There should be a follow-up series which will further benefit the [local] film and television industry,” says Benzie.

According to Village Roadshow Studios, the Gold Coast has attracted over $1.6 billion worth of film and television projects in the last decade.

Movie thriller Fatal Honeymoon, by Melbourne based production company Cascade Films and based on the drowning of Tina Watson on the Barrier Reef, is in production at Village Roadshow Studios.

Action war film The 34th Battalion has also hit the coast with filming scheduled for locations including Yatala.

Earlier this year the Gold Coast also played host to Nickelodeon’s $12.3 million mermaid mini-series Mako: Island of Secrets, a spinoff from the kids hit H20 Just Add Water, and family comedy Nims Island 2 starring Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler.

Last year, Steven Spielberg’s $150 million dinosaur blockbuster Terra Nova was filmed on the Gold Coast as was P J Hogan’s new comedy Mental, thriller Bad Karma, vampire romance short The Rarity and Austrailian TV series Reef Doctors, starring Lisa McCune.

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