Hollywood goes down | LBBOnline

When Thor: Love and Thunder was announced as a shooting in Australia, few industry experts were surprised. The country below has become the epicenter of big American production, with blockbuster films of all stripes pouring into the country (and into New Zealand) rather than Hollywood, New York, or even Atlanta.

While major productions taking place across Australia and New Zealand are nothing new – think again of The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars prequels and Matrix trilogy from the early 2000s – the volume of major productions has certainly increased in recent times. The consequences for local production – especially when it comes to commercial creativity – have been mixed.

At this year’s APAC Advertising Week, a panel led by LBB’s Toby Hemming summoned Damian Whitney, executive producer at Clockwork Films, and Stefan Renard, executive producer at Media Monks, to analyze the good and bad in this development.

First, the bathroom. Damien explained, the influx of key products has led to a real shortage of commercial production skills. The allure of great cinematography (as well as the often required specialized skills), on more than one occasion, has caused real headaches for commercial producers due to its unavailability. Stefan echoed this view, explaining that the opportunity to feature Star Wars as a resume credit can be “irresistible” to special effects talent, regardless of the opportunities in the commercial field.

There was also little creative bleeding in local productions either in the film or commercial fields. The influx of money did not allow more Australian films to be produced, nor did it make a material difference to the creative side of commercial creativity. But the commission expressed it, this was not really a “damage”. Damien explained that Australian films have always struggled to compete with the size of American pictures, while creativity itself cannot be measured as something that has been measurably “improved” with American money. But what has improved is the technical skill of the industry.

Stephen agreed. He cited multiple cases of directors, visual effects artists or cinematographers who transferred skills to and from the world of commercial and artistic production: from mainstream productions, they take access to new technology (such as LED wallpapers), while, from commercial productions, they are free to experiment – using both to develop their skills and capabilities.

In the end, both executive producers concluded that this technical skill upgrade was a huge benefit, and noted with some pride that Australia was “beating above our weight” when it came to global production capacity. The skills shortage was very real, but Damien stressed that “this is a people’s industry”, and he brought home that if enough was done to boost local talent, that demand could be met. Stefan agreed, noting that with major new production opportunities in Australia, there was more reason than ever to stay – and thus counter the “brain drain” production he had faced in years past.

Damien concluded that the reason for this rise in production was in large part a result of tax incentives and the good management of Covid. “The industry is very good at self-management,” he explained. In this light, regardless of the challenges Hollywood poses to Australian production – both artistic and commercial – there is no doubt that the industry remains in good health, and there are reasons to be optimistic about its future.


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