Australia is a popular destination for productions seeking opposite season looks and locations that double well for other places. The country has an abundance of unspoilt beaches, tropical islands, national parks, rainforests, rivers, vineyards, rural and desert landscapes, roads and bridges ideal for car commercials, coastal looks, sand dunes, modern architecture, urban and suburban looks, and much more.
Cost & Rebates
Recent devaluations in the Australian dollar have made filming in Australia a more cost competitive option. Distance is a major expense. Both in terms of getting to Australia as well as getting around Australia (the country is roughly the size of the US Lower 48). Australia is a very well established and sophisticated production centre so factors of production cost accordingly. Post production is one area that remains a cost saving attraction with high quality post 30-40% less expensive than in the US. Ultimately, whatever the project, our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. No tax incentives exist for commercials at present. Feature films have tax incentives. There is an uncapped 16.5% rebate to films with a minimum qualifying Australian production spend. Also a 30% rebate for post and VFX work and 40% for official co-productions with Australia. State agencies may offer additional production incentives.
When To Shoot
The Australian climate varies considerably depending on the time of year, latitude, proximity to the sea and the altitude. Australia is made up of three climatic zones; the tropical north, the dry and arid desert central region, and the temperate southern areas. Winters are mild with only some snow falling in the Snowy Mountains area (five hours drive from Sydney or three hours drive from Melbourne). Summers can be very hot and either dry or humid depending on the location. In parts of the country the warmer temperatures can be experienced well into the winter months. Australia regularly experiences a fifth-season in the later summer months of hazy skies brought on by wildfire smoke.
Short stay visa for visits under three months or business visas (meetings) are the most expedient way of gaining entry to Australia. Please note that you cannot attend meetings through the Tourist stream and may be turned around at the airport if there is suspicion in relation to your motives whilst in Australia. In addition, the business holiday visa can only be to attend meetings, sign contracts or undertake (limited) training. Any activity that would normally attract remuneration would need a work visa.
Productions that intend to stay longer than 3 months require Entertainment Visas, unless the production is not being shown in Australia, then a subclass 400 visa will be required.
For international crew to enter into Australia for work purposes, they must be covered by a subclass 408, Entertainment Visa. The local service company sponsors each visitor. For a 408 application the service company also needs to get approval from MEAA, the local Entertainment Union. To process the sponsorship visas, MEAA requires to see the deal memos between the overseas production company and each crew personnel. A similar thing has to be done with the cast’s deal memos as well.
Cast, Crew & Equipment
Australia has a very good experienced pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers, several being of the highest international standard. Australian professional and technical crews have had decades of experience servicing long and short-form projects from all over the world. The result is a very deep pool of well trained crew with a great attitude and a world-class reputation. Australia boasts a very large and experienced pool of multicultural talent. The country’s large population of Asian actors and models makes it a popular destination for visiting productions from Japan, Korea, China and India. Australia also has talent minorities of Pacific Islander and African decent.
Heading outside of the cities, filmmakers and photographers can find a wealth of aboriginal cultures.
Australia also offers unique animals for filming including kangaroos, crocodiles, koalas, wombats, emus, and a wide variety of birds, bugs and reptiles. Australia offers both Panavision and Arri equipment as well as many boutique equipment companies. There is a great depth of standard and more specialised camera gear including digital cameras (Alexa, RED, Sony, Canon), film cameras (16mm and 35mm), high speed cameras (Phantom), Three-axis stabilized heads (Scorpio, Libra), Motion Control, and much more.
Unlike the US system most gear is provided by individual crew. Grip and lighting trucks are privately owned by crew who accompany them to set. Anything required in addition to this is outsourced. Crew charge a rate for the truck and then individually for lights and gripping gear, burn time and labour rates. Australia offers a great variety of standard and specialised grip and lighting gear including cranes (Technocrane, Phoenix, Giraffe), 3D camera rigs, car rigs, tracking vehicles, sea rigs, helicopter mounts, and underwater housing. Companies of note include Panavision, Red Apple, Brownie Grips, and Big Toys.
For productions looking to bring in film equipment, Australia is an ATA carnet country.