Local filmakers question sustainability of GC film industry

By Dominic Murray – Griffith University student reporter

LOCAL filmmakers have questioned the sustainability of the Gold Coast film industry, claiming its governing bodies waste resources and are too dependent on international films, rather than domestic projects.

Despite recent fanfare over Pirates of the Caribbean coming to the Gold Coast, local filmmakers say the industry is in a bad state and this overlooks deeper issues, which cannot be remedied by one film.


Filmmaker Nils Nilsson, who has worked both independently and on feature films, criticised Screen Queensland, saying the Gold Coast had the potential to be Australia’s main film hub, but its unique facilities are misused.

“We have 300 days of sunshine here and we aren’t utilising it. It’s the dumbest thing,” he said.

“We have the [Village Roadshow] studios, it’s perfect, and it’s so sad to see it like a ghost town.”

Mr Nilsson also slammed the complacency of local filmmakers, who he said rely heavily on international films rather than generating work themselves.

“If it [Pirates of the Caribbean] wasn’t coming this place would be dead again in terms of film, which is a really sad thought,” he said.

Editor, cinematographer and screen production lecturer Josh Nicholas criticised the Queensland government for not encouraging local films, forcing facilities and prospective filmmakers to move interstate.

“It’s not rosy at all,” he said.

“The state governments down there [in Melbourne and Sydney] tend to put more money into arts funding.”

“The Queensland government is not a particularly kind government in terms of any form of arts.”

Mr Nicholas also blamed Australian audiences, who he said were generally apathetic towards local films, and suggested crowd funding was the future.

Australian film veteran Tony Cavanaugh was more optimistic about the local industry’s present state, but conceded the future was less encouraging.

“Quite a lot is happening, it’s actually surprisingly vibrant,” he said.

“It’s not sustainable though. That’s the only problem.”

Mr Cavanaugh attributed this largely to a crippling dependence on American films, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, rather than developing and supporting local talent.

“The Americans don’t give a flying f**k, there’s no loyalty,” he said.

“They just come, rape the country, and then go.”

Screen Queensland representatives were unavailable for comment.