News 09.04.18

BACKROADS TO BAGGAGE – THE CHALLENGES OF TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA



With its vast distances, unpredictable weather and feisty wildlife, shooting film and television productions in Australia can be a logistics headache. And few people know the challenges more than Karlene Meenahan, Executive Producer with Come Alive Productions.

Put simply, Karlene works as a fixer assisting international and Australian productions shooting around Australia – among them The Amazing Race, Who Do You Think You Are, and Real Housewives of Melbourne.

“I think most people would be amazed at what goes into making a production happen”, Karlene explains. “It can take months of preparation just to be able to film a simple 30-minute show.

“Everything from sourcing and securing locations, negotiating permits and location fees for land, sea and air travel, insurances, flights, accommodation, crew and talent transport, risk assessments…specialty vehicles. It’s not just the general public that would be amazed as well. Most of the talent and crew have no real concept of what it took to get them on set that day, but then that’s our job, to make it all look like it was easy, so they can be their best on the day.”

She says the critical process of planning travel and logistics was particularly complex in Australia for a production like The Amazing Race.

The Amazing Race Australia – Season 3 – TAG provided travel logistics for cast and crew.

 

“International companies sometimes just don’t understand the size and breadth of Australia,” she says. “They aren’t always aware of how sparsely the capital cities are scattered along the coasts and what that means for planning travel.”

It’s a naivety that also extends to the local wildlife.

“We get asked things like ‘Can we hang a sign around a kangaroo’s neck and then have the contestants catch it?  We want a big one! One of those red ones! And, can we do this on Bondi Beach?’,” she says.

Karlene’s company has worked with travel firm The Appointment Group (TAG) on many productions, and she says having experienced people focussed purely on moving and accommodating cast and crew is key to a successful shoot. Often, she says, it’s little things like baggage fees and road tolls that can add up to become a major problem.

“There is always some genius who has booked somewhere online claiming they can get fares cheaper than anyone else,” she says. “Sadly, this is a false economy. It’s all good until you turn up to the airport check-in with all your equipment and get hit with a bill for thousands of dollars for excess baggage. We have had this happen in the past. You need to have someone that can take all this into consideration when choosing airlines and where possible have special deals with airlines to alleviate the pain.”

 

The Amazing Race Australia – Season 3 – TAG provided travel logistics for cast and crew.

 

Given that this is anything but 9-5 work, she adds it is vital to have people on call 24/7 to make decisions, resolve problems and help keep the show on the road.

“Having someone on call to resolve these issues is so important to our efficient management of the production,” she explains.

“We have been at foreign airports after midnight with a missed flight and we simply pick up the phone and have someone else resolve the problem for us. When you are tired and your brain is fried from a long day and a longer journey, it’s very satisfying to know that someone else has your back.”

If you are looking to shoot in Australia, TAG Global Film & Media Travel is here to help.

Alli Pratt
The Appointment Group (TAG)
filmmedia.au@appointmentgroup.com
+61 413 743 183