Technicolor’s Mill Film recruiting globally for Adelaide studio

Technicolor’s Mill Film Adelaide studio is drawing on local and international talent to build its workforce which is expected to grow to 300 employees by the end of 2019.

The visual effects studio, comprised today of 140 employees including management and operations, is working from a temporary space in Adelaide’s west, and is anticipating a move into its permanent home within the CBD Myer centre by mid-June.

In 2018, Technicolor and its brands – MPC, MR. X, Mikros and Mill Film – worked on 40-plus titles for major studios including A Wrinkle in Time, Predator, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The New Mutants and 14 episodic projects from Mr. X including new seasons of American Gods, Carnival Rows, Narcos, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Vikings. This is in addition to its film credits related to Jungle Book, Wonder Woman and The Shape of Water.

Mill Film specifically, is focused on providing world-class visual effects for feature film and episodic production markets for major studios and streaming services. The Adelaide studio is expected to grow to 500 employees over five years.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley says the studio is currently actively recruiting for a variety of positions in areas of animation, lighting and environment. The hiring will be a combination of established professionals in the market as well as emerging talent coming out of universities through Technicolor’s Academy.

Mill Film Adelaide’s managing director Mark Thorley.

Mark confirms that the academy has already taken on 40 graduate positions, with a second intake for the one-year paid learning and development program now under way.

“It’s pretty unique from an Australian perspective,” he says. “We pay these individuals from day one and then bring them on the floor once they’ve graduated.”

Mark moved to SA from Queensland to take up his position and says Adelaide’s lifestyle strengths played a part in the company choosing the southern state to expand the brand.

“It’s a great city, in an amazing part of the world, offering the combination of great talent and lifestyle,” he says. “Adelaide is Australia’s best kept secret. We’re thrilled to be here and business is off to a great start. I am incredibly proud of the great work we are doing and can’t wait for the final product to reach audiences everywhere.”

The announcement that Adelaide would welcome a Mill Film studio came in 2018 and was received as a game-changer by the state’s creative industries. The former Labor government also announced its backing of the project with $6 million from the Economic Investment Fund. More than a year later, Mill Film Adelaide has secured its first 12 months’ worth of work.

Mill Film is currently working on Dora The Explorer, an adaption of the popular animation series, and will announce further projects in late 2019, early 2020.

Dora The Explorer is in cinemas from August 2.

“Technicolor is always looking for locations that can offer a new talent pool of skilled VFX artists and therefore we started talking to several state governments before deciding to settle in SA,” Nathan says.

“In addition to (state and federal Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects) rebates, Adelaide offered an opportunity for expansion because of its pool of proven creative talent, access to universities to develop and nurture talent, and the infrastructure already in place for such high-end projects, inclusive of internet infrastructure to allow us to move large amounts of data around,” Nathan says.

“This combined with the lifestyle and quality of life in Adelaide makes it the perfect environment for fostering creativity.”

Nathan Wappet, Technicolor Production Services COO, says the industry is currently experiencing one of its biggest shifts, brought on by an unprecedented demand for content.

“The shift is so massive, it’s changed the definition of what a studio is, with new entrants Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and Amazon Studios setting the bar, and traditional studios announcing their own content distribution platforms,” he says.

“These changes are blurring the line between feature and episodic; short and long form, to the point where quality expectations and production values are the same for all content creators, regardless of distribution platform.

“In the midst of this shift, Technicolor, and its brands are in an unparalleled position to deliver on clients’ and project needs without compromising quality by optimising picture, sound, and visual effects services.”

A scene from ‘Gladiator’ for which Mill Film won an Oscar for visual effects.

Technicolor’s presence in SA is a boost to not only jobs in the state, but the overall local VFX industry, which already home to large VFX house Rising Sun Pictures as well as boutique studio Resin, both of which have an international reach.

Nathan says existing VFX businesses in Adelaide will benefit from Technicolor entering the market as the company often needs to outsource some of its VFX and animation work.

“These studios would be the most likely beneficiaries of any local outsourcing as well as the training and growth of a local artist and technology talent pool. It is a winning proposition for all players,” he says.

Mill Film is anticipating on being a VFX, animation and content production of excellence with hopes of mirroring the success of Technicolor’s MPC Film Montreal studio which grew to more than 1000 people in 2018.

Mill Film’s global managing director Lauren McCallum has a vision for Mill Film to be the most inclusive tier-1 studio in the world, putting talent first and embracing diversity in its work.

“Adelaide helps us achieve this by allowing us to tap in to a talent pool we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to – opening up new pathways in to the industry for even more diverse creatives,” she says.

“The demand for visual effects content has exploded in recent years and we don’t anticipate this will slow down.”

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Local talent behind SA-made film Hotel Mumbai

South Australian-made film Hotel Mumbai has hit cinemas across Australia and overseas, based on incredible events that unfolded at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai during deadly terror attacks in 2008.

Hotel Mumbai is SA director Anthony Maras’ debut feature, filmed partially at Adelaide Studios within the SA Film Corporation, as well as on location in India, in 2016.

The film is based on the real-life events that unfolded at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in November 2008, when gunmen stormed the building in a string of attacks carried out across the city over three days, killing 164 people.

Filming started in 2016, with Adelaide Studios transformed to replicate the opulent interior of the luxurious palace hotel, where heroic staff made sacrifices to save their guests.

On set at Adelaide Studios during the filming of Hotel Mumbai.

Anthony Maras, who is well-known for his 2011 short film The Palace, spent a year researching and interviewing survivors and co-wrote the film alongside John Collee. The film stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Jason Isaacs, and Adelaide actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey and received a standing ovation at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year before its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival.

Julie Ryan who heads Adelaide production company Cyan Films was one of six producers on Hotel Mumbai and says about 230 people were employed during filming and post production, with 66% of them from SA.

Although the Glenside film precinct is a world away from the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Julie says the set was adaptable in replicating the hotel’s interior.

Director Anthony Maras, centre, on set.

“Given the Adelaide Studios were built in the late 1800s – and the Taj was early 1900s – it meant that some of the architecture could match and we could build the sets and utilise things like the window frames and high ceilings,” she says.

“The studios and tenants were extremely adaptable and helpful, particularly the tenants on the second floor who allowed us to film in their corridors outside their offices.

“There are moments in the film where you come out of a corridor in Adelaide and literally walk into a set in Mumbai – and that’s the genius of (production designer) Steven Jones-Evans.”

Completing post-production and assisting in the execution of the seamless transitions between interior scenes in Adelaide and exterior scenes in India, was local company KOJO.

Dev Patel plays Arjun, a brave waiter at the hotel.

KOJO’s post production and VFX team was engaged in post-supervision, picture and sound services and VFX on the film, taking on additional staff to work on the project.

Executive director of KOJO’s post production/visual effects department, Marty Pepper, was Hotel Mumbai’s VFX supervisor and DI colourist.

Marty, whose portfolio of work includes Storm Boy, I Am Mother, and soon-to-be-released Top End Wedding met director Anthony Maras back in 2005 when working on Wolf Creek.

Actor Angus McLaren plays Eddie.

He describes Hotel Mumbai as an “all-consuming project” after being involved from pre-production stages and travelling to India three times during filming.

“It was a very holistic thing, I feel as if I almost lived it (the film) for those years,” he says. “There is an incredible sense of respect in the film (for victims and survivors) and that was led by Anthony.”

KOJO worked on 750 shots in the film, with the company’s entire post-production and VFX team involved “in some shape or form”.

“When we shot at Adelaide Studios the art department was quite incredible in turning the space into a luxurious hotel, and we played a part in how that was all integrated into the scenes in India. Part of the VFX was making sure the light and colour transitioned seamlessly,” Marty says.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey on set.

Hotel Mumbai is one of a string of films recently made in SA, a state which producer Julie Ryan and KOJO’s Marty Pepper both say punches above its weight in the film industry.

Julie notes the representation of SA films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, with four of the six Australian films screened at the event having a connection to SA – I Am Mother, Animals, The Nightingale and Top End Wedding.

“When you look at the recent Sundance Film Festival and add up how many of the Australian films had connections to SA it really does show that we are punching above our weight,” she adds.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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VFX studio Resin reaching new heights as projects soar

Post production rebates, revolutionary high-speed internet networks, and a growing reputation for world class visual effects (VFX) work are just some factors Adelaide studio Resin says is boosting business.

The opportunity to grow at the small VFX studio specialising in long-form series and feature film VFX has prompted the Adelaide born and based Resin to branch out and open offices interstate.

At the end of 2018, Resin expanded with a new business partner to open studios in Melbourne and Brisbane, a huge feat for the relatively small business and its 14 staff and portfolio including the 2019 Storm Boy, Electric Dreams, Red Dog and Netflix series Tidelands.

The business’s founders, VFX supervisor Grant Lovering and VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, say Adelaide is a great location to co-ordinate production between the teams Resin is building in the other studios.

“The expansion opens up access to more projects coming into Australia and will enable more face time with less travel to be with our clients in those locations,” Grant says.

Resin was the primary VFX vendor for the beloved Storm Boy remake, creating a digital double of the famous pelican Mr Percival, along with ocean and storm VFX.

Resin’s VFX producer Lincoln Wogan, left, and VFX supervisor Grant Lovering are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors. Photo by JKTP.

“Virtually anything you see on TV, in a series or on film, will have VFX in it,” Lincoln says. “Sometimes it’s as simple as they’ve shot at a particular location and all the signage needs to be removed, to changing a half-built location in a studio set to a dense jungle.

“Sometimes it’s simulating something too dangerous to do practically, but the most common requirement is to fill in the gaps to make the audience believe what is presented to them on screen no matter how unbelievable that may be.”

Despite Resin’s work ending up on small screens and cinemas nationally and worldwide, the business’s founders say Adelaide will remain as the headquarters.

“Fortunately the opportunity to do this work from any location means we don’t need to relocate to Los Angeles,” Lincoln says. “Regular visits make me appreciate Adelaide’s five minute commute to the studio.”

VFX supervisor Grant agrees, adding that the rollout of the city’s Ten Gigabit ultra-fast fibre optic network has been a tremendous benefit, however, it’s the state’s sound training facilities and VFX education courses training the next generation of VFX professionals that is helping grow VFX as an industry in Adelaide.

“For the younger generation that’s coming through now, there are heaps of good (VFX and post production) courses available in SA through our universities and private education institutions,” he says.

“We have great training facilities all around us and we have brilliant physical infrastructure that allows us to compete internationally.”

A shot from TV series Electric Dreams (Sony Studios).

SA’s Post Production, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate is also making Adelaide an attractive place for large budget international productions.

The offset sees companies receive a 10% rebate on their SA expenditure. Combined with the Federal Government’s PDV offset of 30%, international films can apply for a total combined 40% rebate on expenditure on post production, digital and VFX works on eligible projects.

Resin was born in 2006, with Grant and Lincoln partnering to create a post-production and VFX studio specialising in television advertisements. The work was consistently flowing and in 2010 Resin began working internationally for clients including Disney and Braun over a two to three year period.

Despite the distance between SA, the US and Europe, Resin continued effortlessly to base itself in Adelaide and complete all works from its small studio with about 17 staff at its peak.

But due to an economic downturn in the US and with the Aussie dollar soaring, international work for Resin began to contract and so the business focused itself on more local projects.

Resin’s Lincoln Wogan, left, and Grant Lovering, with the digital double of Storm Boy’s famous pelican Mr Percival.  Photo by JKTP.

By 2015, Resin had completed a few TV and film projects, including film Red Dog, when it became the sole VFX vendor for US series Hunters, with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd of The Walking Dead and Terminator franchises.

“At the end of that project we came away knowing this was our future … we pieced together that production in advertising wasn’t a growing market, shifts were happening,” Grant says.

“We were in the emergence of Netflix and all the other streamers as well so it was quite a good opportunity in the marketplace.”

With an increase in streamed content creating a demand for long-form VFX work, Resin changed its focus to rely solely on TV and film work, joining Ausfilm and focusing itself in LA. That focus led to the opportunity to work on Sony TV series Electric Dreams, an anthology of stories from Philip K Dick (Bladerunner). Resin travelled to Chicago and completed on-set supervision and VFX on two episodes, while also working on The Tick (Sony) and Queen of the South (Fox).

Growth at Resin has been on a healthy upward climb over the past three years. Grant and Lincoln say they are preparing for work to “explode”.

“We’ll need to make a decision about how much we want to grow in the next 12 months with some great projects lining up, it’s that significant,” Grant says.

Grant Lovering and Lincoln Wogan are Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassadors for creative industries.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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The man who brought Red Dog, Wolf Creek to our ears

Imagine the world of film with no sound.

The infamous shower scene in 1960 psychological horror film Psycho would be nowhere near as terrifying without that shrieking strings ensemble. Nor would a shark’s fin slicing through the water in Jaws be as daunting without that unnerving musical score.

Without sound, the emotion of films would simply not be.

To veteran South Australian sound designer, mixer, editor and location recordist James Currie, making and recording sounds for film, TV and documentaries has made up more than 40 years of his working life.

Throughout his career he’s helped bring the sounds of some of Australia’s all-time classics to our ears including The Tracker, Wolf Creek, Ten Canoes, Red Dog, and Charlie’s Country. James also worked on the soon-to-be released Hotel Mumbai, shot in Adelaide.

James Currie established his sound career in the early days of the SA Film Corp. Photo by Myles Quist.

“Sound – in the case of horror movies – introduces the audience to a sense or foreboding or fear,” James says. “It’s the bottom end of the music, the high strings. It’s like the shower scene in the famous Hitchcock movie (Psycho). What drives that? The strings. It’s terrifying.”

Currently living in Carrickalinga with wife Olga, James is about to start working on a new film being shot in Adelaide this month featuring Australian actors Jacki Weaver and Jack Thompson, and Oscar-nominated US actor James Cromwell, mostly known for playing the farmer in Babe. The film, Never Too Late, is about four Vietnam veterans who once escaped from a POW camp but are now tasked with breaking out of their nursing home.

The comedy drama is the latest in James Currie’s line of work which has taken him to many corners of the world and has been celebrated at film festivals and awards nights internationally.

James was born in Whyalla in 1947, his father a fitter and turner who one day decided to move the Currie family to Adelaide. Upon leaving school, James thought about being a teacher, meeting with principal of Wattle Park Teacher’s College, beloved children’s author, Colin Thiele, who advised him that his creative and musical pursuits would suffer under the mountain of marking and other school obligations.

James Currie with Aboriginal elder and actor Peter Mingululu on the set of ‘Charlie’s Country’ in 2013.

Teacher’s college was not to be, so in the late ‘60s James attended the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, the flute being his principal instrument.

A few years in, he transferred to Flinders University’s film school where he completed a degree with first class honours.
With experience gained at the conservatorium, James knew how to operate tape recorders and had a natural talent and undeniable ear for sound.

The final examiners for his honours degree were department heads at the newly established South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC).

“They said, ‘we need you to come to the film corp to be our film mixer,’ but I knew nothing about it,” James says. “They said, ‘don’t worry, you’ll learn’. In those days you flew by the seat of your pants, and that was how I spent 11 years as a film mixer for the SAFC.”

During this time, James worked on documentaries and says documentary filmmaking gave him the skills needed to eventually transfer into feature film sound.

He progressed to working with prolific Dutch-Australian filmmakers Paul Cox and Rolf de Heer on films including Bad Boy Bubby (de Heer), The Tracker (de Heer), Ten Canoes (de Heer), Dr Plonk, which was interestingly a silent film (de Heer), Charlie’s Country (de Heer), and Force of Destiny (Cox).

James Currie filming in China with SA producer/director Mario Andreacchio.

“Rolf de Heer and Paul Cox, their expectations of a sound person were that you’re involved in the script and go right through to the festival,” James says. “With Rolf, I go off and fiddle with the sound, so it starts with the script right through to when the film is released at film festivals at Venice, Toronto, Cannes, wherever.”

While James has travelled to many corners of SA, the country, and the globe to capture dialogue and sounds on film sets, much of his work is also carried out in a Foley theatre. Foley is the reproduction of sound effects to enhance the vision in the film. Sounds can be as simple as the everyday clicking of high heels and clopping of horse hooves.

“When you shoot a horror movie, you’re getting the bits and pieces of effects and dialogue, all the other stuff is made up,” James says.

“One of the areas where you can make things up specifically and in separation is in a Foley theatre where you’re running a film and you make a sound to go with the picture – that’s part of the sound design.”

James says the oldest trick in the book is clapping coconut shells together to recreate the sound of horse hooves, while horror films such as Wolf Creek use chicken bones to recreate the sound of bones snapping, and knives slicing through melons for other violent motions.

James Currie, top left, on set with sound team Josh Williams and Mike Bakaloff. Photo by Matt Nettheim.

Over the years James has won a swag of national and international film industry awards for his sound work and attended a number of renowned film festivals across the globe.

His most memorable project is film Ten Canoes followed by The Tracker, shot in Arkaroola in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Ten Canoes was a character-building experience beyond anything I’d ever experienced before or since,” James says. “It was a foreign environment, psychically demanding, different language, diverse culture, intense tropical heat. Living in tents next to a crocodile infested idyllic looking river. At dawn and dusk every bug armed with primeval teeth rose in waves searching for food and feasted upon the slow-moving film crew.”

After building an established and continuing career, James says has a “general admiration” for what SA has to offer and admires the efforts of the SAFC to remain relevant in a forever evolving creative industry.

Industry in focus: Creative Industries

Throughout the month of March, the state’s creative industries will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is home to a thriving ecosystem of creative businesses and specialists who are delivering world-class works VFX, TV and film production, app development and the VR space. Read more creative industries stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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SA film Storm Boy to reach global audiences

It’s the Colin Thiele classic that captured the hearts of a generation and now the story of the loveable boy and his pelican has returned to the big screen.

The much-anticipated re-imagination of the 1964 novel Storm Boy will hit Australian cinemas on January 17, bringing to life the adored tale of the adventurous South Australian boy and his pelican, Mr Percival.

The 2019 Storm Boy will also enjoy international releases across New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Middle East, Poland, Yugoslavia, Canada and the US.

The last time the Storm Boy story was brought to the screen was in the 1976 film starring Greg Rowe, Peter Cummins and David Gulpilil.

The Coorong region is again the backdrop for the 2019 remake, filmed entirely in SA using a mostly local crew as well as a number of local creative and film industry practitioners.

Jai Courtney, left, plays Hideaway Tom, while Finn Little plays the young Michael Kingley, holding Mr Percival.

The contemporary retelling features a grown-up Storm Boy, Michael Kingley (Geoffrey Rush), who has vivid flashbacks of his childhood, centred around his unbreakable friendship with orphaned pelican, Mr Percival.

Michael recounts to his troubled teenage granddaughter Maddie (Morgana Davies) the memories of his loner father Hideaway Tom (Jai Courtney), the friendly Aboriginal man Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson) and the how they raised three rescued pelicans.

The desolate and rugged coastal landscapes of the Coorong region are stretched across the screen, while the township of Port Elliot also features in the film.

Dramatic yet poignant scenes are complemented by natural recordings of the Coorong environment, and enhanced by pieces performed and recorded by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

The cast and crew were based out of the SA Film Corporation’s (SAFC) Glenside studios, with filming also taking place in the Goolwa area and the Coorong National Park.

Fingerbone Bill (Trevor Jamieson) and the young Michael Kingley.

Storm Boy is an Ambience Entertainment production, with major production investment from Screen Australia in association with the SAFC.  The film’s post production involved the work of Adelaide creative agency KOJO and local VFX company Resin.

Storm Boy was producer Matthew Street’s first feature film shot in SA and he says he would have no hesitation about filming in the state again.

“SA has a highly respected industry with companies like Rising Sun and now Resin, these are world class visual effects companies,” he says.

“The good thing was working with the crew, they were a-list and would match anyone in the world.”

Matthew describes the 2019 Storm Boy as a “proudly South Australian film” and says he and fellow producer Michael Boughen set out to create a contemporary retelling of the classic story that would resonate with new generations and international audiences.

“Our main aim out of the story and the performance is that it would resonate globally. The human story just happens to be set on the Coorong, but it doesn’t matter in what language, it’s a story that should travel.”

Matthew says Storm Boy has brought many economic benefits including short-term business activity for the Fleurieu Peninsula communities during filming.

“We had all those people accommodated down and around the Coorong and Goolwa, so it (the benefits) spilled off into communities and secondary things let alone the tourism benefits nationally and globally for SA.”

As with all remakes and adaptations, the 2019 Storm Boy isn’t immune to the pressure of living up to the emotion, simplicity and beauty of the novel and first movie.

“We had a lot of pressure to make sure this re-imagination was worthy because there’d be a lot of critique beyond just the traditional film critique,” Matthew says.

“We weren’t going to make it unless we could deliver the heart and soul and emotional feeling you get from reading Colin Thiele’s incredible book.”

Storm Boy held its world premiere in Adelaide on January 6. It will be released nationally on January 17. Brand South Australia has teamed up with SONY to give 10 SA families the chance to see the film. Entries close January 14. Click here to enter.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Port Lincoln cinema saved from closure

When Port Lincoln woman Angela Perin heard that the town’s only cinema would close its doors on December 31 last year she saw an opportunity to save the much-valued community facility.

The Port Lincoln cinema had been run by youth social enterprise, Youthoria, under community organisation West Coast Youth and Community Support (WCYCS) for almost a decade.

But due to a lack of funds, Youthoria announced its looming closure causing disappointment among locals as the next closest cinema is three hours away in Whyalla.

“When the board announced that it was going to close the cinema I hoped that someone would grab it up and give it a new lease on life. But that didn’t appear to be happening and the community was really upset,” Angela says.

“I have two kids, aged 12 and 13, and we can’t imagine the town without a cinema. So I did what I’m always telling others to do and that is do something about it. I had a chat to my family we decided that we’d do it.”

Rudi Perin takes charge of the popcorn machine at the Lincoln Cinema.

As an employee at WCYCS, Angela was familiar with the running of the Youthoria cinema and had worked alongside  the youth group that took over the theatre in 2008.

She is now running the cinema as a family business, purchasing the cinema equipment from Youthoria and leasing the 90-year-old theatre building from the Port Lincoln Council.

On January 3 the movie theatre was revived under a new name, Lincoln Cinema, welcoming 200 movie goers through its doors and continuing the tradition of watching holiday blockbusters on the big screen.

“The community has been so supportive, people have come from Tumby Bay, Cummins and Cleve,” Angela says. “The support has been overwhelming.”

The Lincoln Cinema will close from January 29 until the end of February to undergo minor renovations, with Angela hoping to expand the candy bar to create a more welcoming coffee spot and meeting place for visitors.

The Port Lincoln cinema, originally known as Flinders Picture Theatre, was established in 1929. Photo courtesy of Cinema Treasures, Granola.

She says the cinema is an essential facility for regional youth as it offers them a safe place to meet and socialise.

“Going to the movies is an experience,” she says.

“You can watch movies at home but going to the movies with friends and family and seeing something on the big screen – there’s nothing like it.”

Longstanding SA movie theatre company Wallis Cinemas is the booking agent for Lincoln Cinema, which Angela says will screen some of the summer holiday blockbusters including Mary Poppins Returns.

The movie theatre on Hallett Place in Port Lincoln was established as the Flinders Picture Theatre in 1929 by Mrs R. L. MacGregor.

An article in the Port Lincoln Times newspaper on Friday, September 6, 1929, reports on the ceremony where the foundation stone was laid.

The article states, “It was recognised that a theatre of the class that was being built was essential to the progress of Port Lincoln. The hope was expressed that the venture would prove a success”.

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SA film industry attracts record spend in screen production

South Australia’s film industry continues to reach new heights, with the state achieving a record share of national screen production expenditure in 2017/18.

With a number of big feature films shot in SA in the past 12 months, including the remake of the Australian Coorong classic Storm Boy, SA reached a new record of screen production and PDV (post production, digital and visual effects) spend at $82 million.

According to Screen Australia’s National Drama Report, the state made up 10% of national screen production expenditure in 2017/18, and recorded its third consecutive year of growth.

SA and WA were the only states in Australia to have achieved an increase, with our state’s national expenditure share increasing from 3% to 10% in 12 months.

The National Drama Report measures the health of Australia’s screen industry by looking at the production of local and foreign feature films, TV dramas, online programs and PDV.

Matchbox Pictures opened its SA office in 2018 and filmed season three of Channel Seven’s crime drama Wanted. Pictured is producer Kirsty Stark, an I Choose SA ambassador.

SA has been the location of choice for a number of films in the past financial year, including Storm Boy, I Am Mother, Top End Wedding, and The Flip Side.

TV productions include Pine Gap (ABC/Netflix), Wanted season 3 (Channel Seven), and If Time Flows Back, one of only four Chinese titles shot in Australia in 2017/18.

Half the national expenditure in SA in 2017/18 came from PDV work on titles such as Animals, Hotel Mumbai, The Nightingale, Storm Boy and foreign features Tomb Raider (US/UK), X Men: Dark Pheonix (US) and Animal World (China).

Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni says these recent results demonstrate the state’s thriving local screen sector and is a testament to the work being done to ensure SA is a competitive and attractive production destination.

“This includes developing the infrastructure to support a growing industry, the continued development of the state’s capacity to support multiple productions concurrently, and creating opportunities for skills development,” Mr Pisoni says.

South Australian Film Corporation CEO Courtney Gibson says a combination of strategies including rebates and grants, studios and locations, SA’s world-class PDV companies and the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund, were positioning the state to capture even more national and international spend in the future.

Interested to know what other famous films have been shot in SA? Read ‘SA the star of Australian cinema’ here.

Header photo features Rebecca Gibney, left, and Geraldine Hakewill in ‘Wanted’.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide the true star of Aussie film The Flip Side

Four lead characters sit outside North Adelaide’s The Kentish pub sipping on Coopers Sparkling Ales in Australian comedy drama The Flip Side.

The scene is a snippet of life in Adelaide, and it’s unfolding in cinemas across the country.

Co-written and directed by South Australian creative Marion Pilowsky, the charming film was shot in 35 locations across the state in just five weeks.

Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, Hahndorf,  gets screen time, as does the famous palm tree-lined Seppeltsfield Road in the Barossa Valley.

Drama unfolds at the Brukunga Mine in the small Adelaide Hills town and waves crash on screen at a beach along Horseshoe Bay.

“It means everything to me that I was able to create this film here in SA,” says Marion, who was born in the UK before emigrating to Australia at the age of three with her family.

“It feels completely truthful, my DNA is in the work, it’s where I’ve grown up. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it anywhere else.”

Ronnie, played by SA actor Emily Taheny, at Barossa Bowland.

The Flip Side is Marion’s debut feature film, produced by her own Adelaide-based Corner Table Productions in association with the SA Film Corporation, Screen Australia and 20th Century Fox.

SA actor Emily Taheny – whose hometown is Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula – plays the lead role of Ronnie, an Adelaide chef who sparked a love affair with English actor, Henry (played by Eddie Izzard).

But Henry goes back to the UK, breaking Ronnie’s heart in the process.

Five years later Ronnie is coupled up with Jeff (Luke McKenzie), when Henry visits Australia again, but this time with French assistant girlfriend Sophie (Vanessa Guide).

Henry and Sophie stay with Ronnie and Jeff for a few days, but the time spent together leaves Ronnie wondering what could have been with the one who got away.

It took Marion about four years to write the script with co-writer and partner Lee Sellars, who Marion says brought truthfulness to the male perspective of the story.

Eddie Izzard plays Henry in film The Flip Side.

She points out The Flip Side is a comedy drama rather than a romantic comedy, and that her intention was to reflect women’s lives on screen.

“It’s a comedy drama and it’s about how women work out where they are in their lives and giving themselves permission to be happy and finding their own state of grace in the kind of complicated lives we live as modern women,” Marion says.

About 70 South Australian cast and crew were employed for the film, shot at locations including Callington, Port Adelaide, Macclesfield, Happy Valley, Croydon, Semaphore Beach, Tonsley, Adelaide Airport and Clarence Park.

“I always like location in film … I like having the environment of where the characters live front and centre and I don’t apologise for that.

“So this is an Adelaide couple who live in SA and I wanted it to be very specifically about that.”

SA’s landscapes haven’t only unfolded on the silver screen as a result of The Flip Side hitting theatres, but they’ve also been shared across social media too.

While filming in Elizabeth, Vanessa Guide, the French actor who plays Sophie, snapped an image of a garden outside a unit in the northern suburbs and shared it with her 36,000 Instagram followers.

“She posted this photo of a classic Australian native garden with beautiful flowering natives,” Marion says.

“I asked her, ‘where is that!’ and she pointed across the road.”

While The Flip Side is Marion’s first feature film, she has made six short films and built her career in the realms of film financing, film sales and consultancy.

Growing up in Adelaide, Marion moved to the UK at the age of 27, living between London and Sydney for the next 20 years of her life.

In 2012 she returned home to Adelaide with a desire to create her own work, knowing that it had to be done here at home.

“I really believe in writing what you know and being in a place that you’re really connected to,” Marion says.

“The greatest benefit of working here is that it’s so easy logistically and physically … everything is within an hour, the actual making of the film and moving large groups of people around is a lot easier than Sydney or Melbourne.”

Marion admits the film industry is a tough gig to crack and that “any film that gets made now is literally a miracle”.

But she says the energy of SA’s creative industries is promising for the local film sector.

“I think we’re in a moment of great productivity and great positivity,” she says.

“It feels like a very good time to be a filmmaker in SA.”

Read more stories about South Australia’s creative industries here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Homegrown VFX companies striking gold in film boost

Adelaide’s largest visual effects companies are seeing a surge in work on major Hollywood and Australian films as the state’s new 10% rebate kicks in.

Rising Sun Pictures (RSP) and Kojo have both recorded their highest growth year as the rebate for post production, digital and visual effects comes on top of the Federal Government’s existing 30% rebate.

It has led to Rising Sun Pictures establishing an entire new floor space at its Pulteney Street studio, with managing director and joint founder Tony Clark saying the studio is building on its busiest time in a 20-year history.

The space would house a projected 60 to 80 new staff as South Australia strengthens its global reputation and draws more work away from countries like rebate-rich Canada.

Hollywood blockbuster Thor launches in the theatre.

“In the past year we’ve achieved $22.7m in revenue, when you think about it over its 20 years, the company has probably contributed more than $250m to the state’s economy,” he says.

“The money flows directly from RSP staff into the economy, creating jobs for baristas, hairdressers, in schools or in housing.”

The highly regarded studio has led the way for SA, working on Hollywood blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarok and Gravity, and its current work was expected to see staff numbers peak as high as 280 by the end of 2018.

This includes work on the next Predator and the next X-Men films, along with Dumbo for Disney, directed by Tim Burton.

Rising Sun has also just finished its first major project for a Chinese film production, a fantasy adventure called Animal World that has secured a distribution deal with Netflix.

The Rising Sun crew.

Tony says he believes growth is also being spurred by the steady rise in film production in the US, Europe, Australia and China, triggering parallel demand for ever-more spectacular visual effects.

Earlier this year, another major development for the local industry was announced with global entertainment giant Technicolor saying it would open a $24m visual effects studio in Adelaide.

Its chief executive Fred Rose predicted the studio Mill Film could generate 500 new jobs in SA during the next five years.

Tony welcomes the news, saying building SA as a hub for the industry means it will attract a greater pool of talent – but means existing businesses must prepare for a more competitive labour market.

In a move to ensure more creative talent keeps appearing in the local jobs pipeline, Rising Sun Pictures has expanded its education program operating in partnership with the University of South Australia.

A new undergraduate course in visual effects skills was added to the offering and the Graduate Certificate program expanded.

The company also continues to search globally for talent, recently hiring veteran visual effects supervisor Tom Wood, who earned a 2016 Oscar nomination for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road.

At Kojo in Norwood, chief executive Dale Roberts is also feeling optimistic saying the creative services company’s film and TV section of the business “had its biggest year in history”.

Creative agency Kojo has experienced a surge in the number of project it’s taken on in the past year.

“In the past 12 months we’ve done a record number of projects, I think six, in a good year we would usually do three,” he says.

Dale says the new government rebate has certainly helped trigger more international work.

The team has worked on American-Australian thriller film Hotel Mumbai, on Storm Boy featuring Australian and Hollywood star Geoffrey Rush and earlier this year finished a second series of Wolf Creek for Stan.

“We’re also working on a new movie starring Hilary Swank called I am Mother and a new Netflix series called Pine Gap that was shot here earlier this year,” Dale says.

“Post production and visual effects is definitely the growth area for us.

“We are really good at it here in SA, we offer a world-class product out of Adelaide and because we have a different cost structure to somewhere like Sydney or London or New York, we can offer competitive pricing.”

Australian actor John Jarratt plays notorious serial killer Ivan Milat in TV series Wolf Creek.

Kojo’s numbers have increased to 90 across four offices in Australia along with about 30 contractors, with Dale saying its two other core businesses are also staying strong.

Its advertising, marketing and communications team recently won the contract for BMW events nationally, including for famed car brand Mini.

Meanwhile, Kojo sport won the contract to operate lighting, sound and video at the new Perth’s Optus Stadium – it already has the job at Adelaide Oval – and Dale says Kojo will pursue other stadium work during the year.

Kojo also has work with AFL teams Adelaide and Port Adelaide, along with Richmond, Essendon, West Coast and Fremantle.

“We’ve had an incredible year of growth, in the past year, our overall revenue has grown 20% year on year, and staff numbers have grown 12 to 15%,” Dale adds.

Adelaide-based VFX studio Resin is also experiencing growth from the state’s burgeoning creative industries sector.

The company says it has experienced 200% growth in the past financial year.

Resin’s portfolio includes the highly anticipated remake of SA classic, Storm Boy, as well as film Hotel Mumbai, which is set to open the Adelaide Film Festival in October.

The company is also currently working on the first ever Netflix original Australian produced series, Tidelands.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Volunteers the true stars of Coober Pedy Drive-In

Coober Pedy is the eccentric outback town renowned for its opals and underground dugouts, but roll around every Saturday night and scenes of Hollywood will flicker before your eyes.

The renowned mining settlement – where 70% of the world’s opals are mined – is home to one of the country’s last remaining drive-in theatres, operated by a dedicated band of volunteers who keep the facility running.

There was once a real risk of explosives being let off at the drive-in by hooligan miners, but although the threat has ceased, a notice is still flashed on screen warning of such offences.

Mining blokes would jump in their utes, loaded with gelignite and other mining tools, and head to the drive-in to catch a flick after a day’s work.

Locals say it wasn’t unusual for sticks of dynamite to be thrown at the screen if the film on offer wasn’t to their liking.

A warning sign still flashes on the screen at the drive-in warning viewers to keep their mining explosives at bay. Back in the day it was a real threat, now it’s more a novelty.

Although things don’t go off with quite a bang these days, the romance of the Coober Pedy Drive-In is still very much alive.

It’s now run by the Outback Open Air Cinema Committee, a small group of volunteers who give their time to operating and up-keeping the equipment.

Committee chairperson and projectionist Matt Key says the Coober Pedy Drive-In screens films every Saturday night and often AFL matches on a Friday.

The sessions attract about 30-40 cars, he says, with 70% of patrons locals townspeople, while the rest are tourists.

“The drive-in is the main regular activity for the town,” Matt says.

“It’s the only cinema where people can bring their animals. People come on gophers with cats on their lap, and others will bring their dogs.

“If there are dogs in the movie as well, it often sets of a raucous.”

The Coober Pedy Drive-In might be one of the longest running outdoor cinemas in SA, but it hasn’t been without its downtimes.

Its history is a colourful tale of unwavering community spirit, with the facility built by the Progress and Miners Association by 1965 with money raised from donations and the raffle of a Holden ute.

Volunteers install the drive-in screen in 1964. Photo: Bill McDougall,

The films generated a high source of revenue for the town, with eight films shown every week from the likes of Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music.

But as the 1980s rolled in, the rise of television took over and with that came the decline of many drive-ins across Australia.

By 1984, the Coober Pedy Drive-In had closed except for the odd special screening – most notably the charming classic Crocodile Dundee which hit the silver screen in 1986.

By the mid-90s, the Coober Pedy Drive-In was a mostly abandoned site, until a private group reopened it on a commercial basis and the facility was wound back to life.

But in 2000 the lease ran out, and volunteers again had to step up, taking over the operations and keeping the town in touch with films that would go on to form generations of culture.

In 2013, the drive-in suffered its biggest challenge – the takeover of the digital age, meaning the old equipment was made mostly redundant.

Dozens of cars gather at the Coober Pedy drive-in to watch a movie under the stars.

Coober Pedy locals refused to let the curtains close on the outdoor cinema, and so they set out to raise more than $120,000 to undertake a full digital upgrade.

“We held community raffles, karaoke nights, school fundraisers, community markets and took donations, it was something the whole town got behind,” Matt says.

“The State Government chipped in $40,000 and the Coober Pedy Council gave $20,000.

“We’re a small town and we aren’t a well-off community by any stretch, but we pulled it off.”

The drive-in is still managed by the Outback Open Air Cinema Committee, who collect money from the gate, operate equipment, run the canteen and chase grants to ensure the drive-in can stay.

“It’s because of the locals that the drive-in still exists,” Matt says.

“The whole town is behind the drive-in … everyone looks out for each other.

“We are one of two drive-ins in the state and one of 12 in Australia. To have it out here in the country, in the middle of nowhere is pretty special.”

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