Production boom in Queensland


Two of the five feature films financed at the September Film Finance Corporation (FFC) board meeting are Queensland productions, bringing to five the total number of feature films on the slate for the state in the next 12 months. As well, there are numerous television series and documentaries in production.

One of these two features, ACOLYTES, received investment through the ‘evaluation door’ (where films are judged on merit by FFC’s evaluation managers) while the other, DAYBREAKERS, was the only film that received financing at this board meeting through the ‘marketplace door’. To qualify, producers Chris Brown, Sean Furst and Bryan Furst had secured international investment from genre specialist and ‘mini studio’ Lions Gate.

Richard Stewart and Penny Wall are producing ACOLYTES, a dark teenage thriller written by Shane Krause and Shayne Armstrong that will be directed by Jon Hewitt. This film centres around three high school kids who seek revenge on the man who has victimised them all their lives.

Stewart and Hall say the film inhabits the shadowy cinematic territory of RIVER’S EDGE, A SHALLOW GRAVE, BULLY and MYSTIC RIVER.

DAYBREAKERS is Queensland twins Michael and Peter Spierig’s follow up to their low budget cult hit UNDEAD. They describe it as an ‘ecological thriller with horror elements’.

Producer Chris Brown adds, ‘In DAYBREAKERS, the Spierig brothers have created an innovative, revisionist twist on the vampire genre. While the scope of the story is global, the focus of the narrative is personal, centring on two estranged vampire brothers struggling against the backdrop of a worldwide civil war between vampires and humans.’

Pre-production starts early next year and shooting will take place at Warner Roadshow Studios – that is, when there’s room.

For the first time in several years, the eight sound stages and production offices on the Gold Coast will be at times fully occupied into 2007.

‘Since July, all of these projects have come in at once,’ says vice president of studio operations Lynne Benzie, who attributes the resurgence to the declining Australian dollar and the recent review of Queensland Government incentives. There has also been a degree of serendipity involved – all of the projects were looking for the types of ‘unique locations’ that Queensland has to offer.

Benzie says that while one sound stage will become available in November, there has been such a boom in production that the crew from one television series that will be shot on the lot had to set up its production office off-site at Robina.