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Happy 10th birthday Docklands Studios

03 Apr 2014

Happy 10th birthday Docklands Studios Image

When the Docklands Studios opened 10 years ago, Docklands was a very different place.

“The studio was one of the first things built down this end (of NewQuay),” studio CEO Rod Allan said.

“There were no buildings directly opposite and Harbour Town hadn’t been built yet,” Mr Allan said.

This month, the studio celebrates 10 years of operation in Docklands, after opening under the name Melbourne Central City Studios in April of 2004.

Mr Allan said the studio was originally a public-private partnership between the State Government and Central City Studios Holdings before being acquired by the Government at the end of 2008 and becoming a government business enterprise.

Mr Allan himself worked as a contractor at the studio in its early days, when its first feature film, Ghostrider, was being shot. He then returned five years ago as CEO.

When asked why the studio was opened in Docklands originally, Mr Allan said he couldn’t say where the idea came from.

“What I can tell you is that the studio being here is a fabulous asset for the film industry because of its proximity to the city.”

“There’s a widespread belief that a complex like this doesn’t need to be close to the city centre when, in fact, for us that’s one of the big advantages in marketing the studio,” he said.

Throughout its 10 year history the studio has seen major international productions including The Pacific, Where the Wild Things Are and Knowing.

Local feature films shot have included Patrick, Hating Alison Ashley and Kath and Kimderella along with domestic television productions Winners and Losers, Satisfaction and The Footy Show, among others.

According to Mr Allan, the highlight of the past 10 years has been occasions when the studio has been at a diverse capacity.

“I think the highlights are really when we are at a diverse capacity, when we have all of our sound stages occupied by different projects,” he said.

“It’s not one particular event, so much as seeing the place fully occupied and humming,” Mr Allan said.

But, of course, the past 10 years haven’t been all rosy, with various challenges along the way.

“I suppose the biggest challenge really has been getting people who would otherwise not think about coming here to actually think about it,” he said.

Nonetheless, Mr Allan maintains the studio has made a valuable contribution to the state’s economy over the past decade.

“If you look at the studio as an economic asset, the direct investment by production companies into the economy is well over half a billion dollars,” he said.

Mr Allan said less than 5 per cent of that was spent at the studio itself, with the rest going towards employment and ancillary services.

Next up for the studio is more facilities, with plans to build another large sound stage and a building to house industry-related businesses such as casting agents, equipment rental houses and post-production companies.

“We need a bigger soundstage because we want to be able to continue to attract international productions without interfering with our ability to service domestic productions,” Mr Allan said.

Mr Allan said further State Government funding would be required to make this a reality.

So far, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year for the studio, with international feature film The Moon and the Sun at the studio until June and an undisclosed Australian feature film to commence shooting in the same month.

Local television shows Winners and Losers, The Footy Show and Millionaire Hot Seat will continue filming at the studios, while other productions have been secured for the second half of the year.

“It’s shaping up to be a good year,” Mr Allan said.

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