Ausfilm chief executive Kate Marks said the scheme “ensures Australia will now be in a position to secure a significant pipeline of large budget productions”.
Ms Marks said the agency, which markets Australia as a filming location, had received $1.2 billion worth of genuine production enquiries for about 20 US-backed movies and TV series during the pandemic.
Welcoming the incentive, Screen Producers Australia chief executive Matthew Deaner said Sydney now needed a second film studio, likely in the western suburbs, to supplement Fox Studios.
“Globally there’s a desire to get production going and they can’t do it certainly in the States so there’s an opportunity here,” he said.
But Deaner said the scheme highlighted a lack of support for Australian production, with television companies and streaming services able to get a 30 per cent incentive for foreign production but just a 20 per cent incentive for Australian shows.
He believed the most critical threat to the local industry was the effective suspension of quota requirements for commercial free-to-air broadcasters and drama obligations for subscription television operators.
“The bread and butter production – and all of the employment that comes from that – is in chaos,” Deaner said. “That’s 10,000 to 15,000 jobs that are uncertain for next year.”
Free TV, which represents commercial broadcasters, found the incentive frustrating given the uncertainty about the local industry.
“Investment which supports our local production sector, cast and crews is always welcome but we are concerned that this package comes in isolation of the ongoing enquiries into local content, quotas and support for the domestic industry,” said chief executive Bridget Fair.
Australian Writers Guild president Shane Brennan said the funding was a “$400 million giveaway to Hollywood” at a time when the Australian industry was bleeding out.
“It shows a total lack of faith in the Australian industry and Australian storytelling,” Mr Brennan said.
The Australian producer of the Matrix trilogy, Andrew Mason, thought the scheme would attract international production but was concerned it would discourage large-scale Australian television series.
“There’s a great desire to come to Australia because it’s seen as a safe place, notwithstanding the need to spend time in quarantine,” he said. “But there needs to be a rebalancing of support because so much production is headed to television.
“If you had a $100 million epic TV series set in Australia and made it with Australians, you’d get less of an incentive if the same thing was made by a bunch of Americans coming here to do it,” he said. “That’s a very strange disconnect.”
Major productions already headed to Australia include the Hulu television series Nine Perfect Strangers, starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy and due to shoot around Byron Bay.
Earlier funding has encouraged 10 productions to shoot here including the Thor: Love and Thunder and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in Sydney, Godzilla vs Kong on the Gold Coast and Shantaram and The Alchemyst in Melbourne.
Garry Maddox is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.