Blue Mountains’ unique screen sector
With the Location Offset for film and TV production increased to 30 per cent from July 2023, more international film companies are looking to Australia to film their large-budget movies, with incentives for post-production an added lure.
The Blue Mountains has the diversity of scenery and local creative talent to be an attractive fit for film companies looking for accessible and interesting places to film; and as a recent location scout gathering hosted by MTNS MADE and Blue Mountains City Council, and attended by leading scouts and producers representing both domestic and global film companies proved, there’s plenty of hidden surprises amongst our bushland scenery.
“I joined the tour not quite knowing to expect - I had preconceived ideas about what the BM has on offer (basically the Hydro Majestic, Three Sisters, the Carrington and hand-knitted sweaters). The bus tour gave me the opportunity to be educated on just how much more diverse the Ngurra Country of the Dharug and Gundungurra people is,” said writer/director Felicity Price from Truant Pictures, who found inspiration from the tour for an upcoming project.
But while we clearly have the look, an on-going issue for both production companies and the local screen community is the fact that the Blue Mountains is considered part of Metropolitan Sydney, and is therefore ineligible for regional offsets and funding incentives. Furthermore, with crew unions operating under a 20-kilometre radius from the Sydney GPO, any filming beyond this is affected by overtime and travel expenses, adding to the cost for any productions wishing to film in the Blue Mountains.
Kristen Dunphy, writer and producer of the ABC drama ‘Wakefield’ – a series set specifically in the Blue Mountains – was faced with this dilemma when sourcing locations, with principal photography eventually taking place in the Southern Highlands.
“The Mountains is a fantastic place to shoot, I would totally choose it again,” Kristen said.
“But what really puts me off is the lack of regional funding – it’s not fair on places like the Blue Mountains. I could not believe that Bowral qualifies as regional but Katoomba doesn’t!”
With an enthusiastic body of local screen creatives, potential for attachments for up-and-coming film practitioners, incredible diverse scenery as well as built and cultural assets, the Blue Mountains’ future as a filming location is bright. What is needed for growth is a change in government policy, recognising that the Blue Mountains is indeed part of Regional NSW, with its own unique characteristics and requirements for its creative community.