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Gold Coast opens more film studios to meet demand

Arts & Culture

Mid-scale and indie film productions worldwide are being targeted by new film studios on the Gold Coast to add to a pipeline of blockbusters already cementing the region’s international status as a top film destination.

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Pinnacle Films Studios have only been open around 10 months, but have already hosted five acclaimed local productions, including science-fiction epic Occupation Rainfall and local horror film Possessed.

The latest movie to shoot at Pinnacle Film Studios is a fantasy adventure comedy

The Portable Door, starring Guy Pearce, Christoph Waltz and Patrick Gibson and produced by Brisbane-based Story Bridge Films and the Jim Henson Company.

Story Bridge Films producer Todd Fellman said the addition of Pinnacle’s studios made the Gold Coast an ideal production location for feature films of all genres and budgets.

“I’ll always make more movies on the Goldy. I love it. There’s no better place to make a movie,” Fellman said.

“Pinnacle offers a very cost-effective, practical solution, in particular for independent producers wanting to find a very flexible space that can accommodate a small to mid-scale film production.

Portable Door is quite a large-scale production in terms of set builds and things like that,  but it’s still an independent film in the scheme of things. It’s not a big studio movie but it’s definitely a very ambitious Australian independent film.”

Fellman’s Story Bridge Films also shot the wild-chase thriller Black Site at Pinnacle’s 4,000 square metre warehouse that formerly housed the Billabong surf brand in the Gold Coast light industrial enclave at Helensvale.

Black Site, an Australian-American co-production starring Mission: Impossible’s Michelle Monaghan and Australia’s Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke and Uli Latukefu, created around 200 jobs and injected more than $9 million into the local economy.

Fellman said the new turnkey facility along with local industry expertise and shoot locations meant even more movie productions were likely to aim for the Gold Coast.

“One of the great attractions of Queensland is the ability to access diverse locations like beaches and rainforest and desert and even urban development within a very confined radius,” he said.

“There’s definitely a need for facilities such as Pinnacle to service the independent world and still give all the access and benefits of a southeast Queensland location.

“The time is right because it’s so busy and there’s not enough facilities or crew to accommodate it all.”

The Gold Coast has already seen a frenzy of large-scale US blockbusters and high-budget Australian television productions and feature films filmed locally at Village Roadshow Studios and surrounds, from Baz Luhrmann’s Untitled Elvis feature film to Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives that is currently shooting on the Gold Coast.

As a global moviemaking location of choice due to Queensland’s effective pandemic response and first-class crews, an increasing number of mid-budget and independent films have also been looking to set up on the Gold Coast, creating a heightened demand for suitable space.

“What’s happening as a general trend in the film industry is the pandemic has created a situation where Australia is busier than ever, but the big movies are getting bigger and they are getting to a point where they come in and take over an entire facility,” Fellman said.

“So a movie like Thor or Elvis will come into the studios and they’ll take over the entire facility, so when you have movies of that scale happening there’s no alternative facilities for the smaller films or TV.”

Pinnacle Films Studios creator Sherard Kingston said the new studios were built to support the Gold Coast’s great film rush.

Kingston, who also operates the Pinnacle Films distribution company, electrical wholesale company TradeZone, and All Interactive that specialises in large-volume distribution of major brands such as Nintendo, Activision, GoPro, Playstation, Disney and Microsoft across Australia and New Zealand, said demand drove the development of the new studios.

“This was a bit of a toe-in-the-water exercise and if it didn’t work, well not much lost. I had to do up the area anyhow,” Kingston said.

“At the time, the productions seemed to be getting bigger and bigger and they take the whole studios, the entire set up, so that leaves the indie films or any other films that want to be filmed in this area poking around in all these little industrial blocks looking for empty sheds.

“Rather than let them do that, we thought we’d adapt something that was more purpose-built.”

He said larger films were also able to use the facility as a workshop if they needed extra space while surrounding trades were accustomed to working to tight deadlines for the film industry making the studio a prime location for movie production.

“It’s a classic case of supply and demand,” he said.

“If you want to make a film, you have all large diversity of filming sites within half an hour radius of here, your stars can live in a lovely environment, and throw in the local skillset that’s around here as well as Queensland being relatively free of COVID and our dollar, up until recently, being quite low, it’s very compelling.

“It’s not rocket science to know where they would want to be.”

 

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