Docklands the quay to restarting filming in Victoria

Docklands the quay to restarting filming in Victoria

By Matt Harvey

Hollywood drama came to Melbourne last month as scenes for NBC’s La Brea began filming in NewQuay

La Brea is the biggest international television series to film in Victoria since HBO’s The Pacific in 2010 and last month it found its first home at developer MAB’s vacant NewQuay West site on Docklands Drive.

Nearby Bay St in Port Melbourne was also the used a filming location for the new high-end Universal Television series, with production overseen by Matchbox Pictures (Clickbait, Stateless).

La Brea follows a family’s desperate survival after they are separated by a colossal sinkhole that suddenly appears and wreaks havoc in the city.

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said the project was expected to inject more than $60 million into the Victorian economy, creating jobs for 290 local cast and crew members, and work for around 295 local businesses.

“After a challenging year, our screen industry is well and truly back with a strong pipeline of projects now shooting across the state with more projects on the way, supporting Victorian jobs and talent,” Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson said.

“We have a long-standing relationship with NBCUniversal and we warmly welcome them back to Melbourne with their series La Brea.” 

The production secured funding through the Victorian Screen Incentive (VSI) and the Federal Location Incentive (FLI).

The VSI offers grants to encourage producers to bring their film, television and games projects to Victoria across all sectors of the screen industry including physical production, post-production, VFX, animation and games.

The FLI is designed to complement the government’s existing Location Offset, providing an effective increase in the tax offset rate from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent for eligible productions that film in Australia and successfully apply.

The arts industry was particularly hard hit during COVID-19, with social distancing requirements, the non-essential nature of most arts jobs, and lengthy lockdowns making work near impossible.

Many performers are classified as sole traders meaning they couldn’t access the JobKeeper payments until the extension around September 28, 2020.

Jobs have been scarce and with this production, the first to shoot in the area, will come the follow-on effect of support for the local economy.

The arts is a significant contributor to Australia’s economy providing $11.7bn (based on figures for 2016-17).

Not to mention the mental health relief of watching reruns of Round-the-Twist on Netflix during a circuit breaker lockdown.

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 8500 local jobs over multiple years and engage more than 9000 Australian businesses.

The expansion of the Location Incentive comes on top of $250 million during 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.

The VSI incentivises bringing productions to Victoria with accommodation and 50 per cent of return flight expenses, and salaries paid to Victorian residents among the qualifiers.

La Brea has been written and overseen by David Appelbaum, producer and writer for NCIS New Orleans and brings some recognisable faces to Australia including Jon Seda (Chicago Fire), Michael Raymond-James (Billions), Natalie Zea (The Unicorn, The Detour), Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor), Eoin Macken (Merlin), and Victorian actor Rohan Mirchandaney (Hotel Mumbai) •

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