Docklands Studios cranks up

By Meg Hill

Docklands Studios says it is approaching one of its busiest periods ever in the second half of 2018.

The thriller Upgrade is in cinemas now, Ride Like a Girl is just finishing production, and The True History of the Kelly Gang ­– starring Russell Crowe – is just starting up.

And the government on June 29 announced filming will start for The Whistleblower – the largest Australian-Chinese official co-production in Victoria’s history.

The Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley greeted acclaimed co-producers Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers), Greg Basser (Concussion, Goosebumps and Chinese productions Cold Wall II, Rise of the Legend), female director Xue Xiaolu (Together), lead actor Jiayin Lei (Guns and Roses, Brotherhood of Blades II), and key cast and crew who are producing the ambitious feature in Victoria.

The Whistleblower is expected to generate more than $40 million in Victoria’s economy. It will also increase trade for more than 800 businesses with 220 employment opportunities created for local screen workers.

A big showcase will be the state’s versatile locations with filming to take place in the cities of Melbourne and Geelong. Additional locations include Dandenong, Footscray, Werribee and in the Latrobe Valley at the de-commissioned Hazelwood Power station. The region can expect significant flow-on tourism benefits through the accommodation of more than 250 film crew over a two-week regional shoot.

The studios are also hosting the TV series Playing for Keeps, as well as the regular filming of The Footy Show, Millionaire Hot Seat and Talking ‘Bout Your Generation.

The studios were built in 2004 and were originally run privately, with encouragement and assistance from the state government.

“They always had a stake in the studio because they saw it as valuable for the Victorian film industry,” CEO Rod Allan said.

The studios were sold back to the Victorian Government in 2008. Mr Allan said government ownership guided its philosophy.

“We’re not strictly driven by the demands of a commercial business,” he said.

“We have to be able to cover our operating costs and make an operational profit, but we respect the fact that this facility is here to support the industry.”

This helps the studios maintain its unique range of clients, from large international projects like Winchester (starring Helen Mirren) to a number of small Australian projects.

“Our aim is to service all production types for the screen industry – everything from short films though to long-form dramas,” Mr Allan said.

“We want to encourage young film makers, making short films or low budget films, to consider using the studio.”

Mr Allan said the operational model of the studios allowed it to give discounts or compromise on finances with smaller projects.

Small projects run at Docklands Studios during the past year include Australian documentary Guilty, Melbourne independent film Choir Girl and sci-fi The Wheel.

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