/News 13.07.22


Filmed on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Imagine Entertainment and MGM’s gripping feature film Thirteen Lives screens exclusively on Amazon Prime Video from 5 August.

Directed by Ron Howard and starring Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton, the production started principal photography in March 2021, with south-east Queensland standing in for tropical northern Thailand.

Private homes, lush tropical tree-lined roads, hotels and golf courses across Mudgeeraba, Yatala, Numinbah Valley, Carrara and more, provided every location required to recreate the city and surrounds of Chiang Rai Province — the true setting of the legendary 2018 Thai cave rescue.

A hospital scene was filmed at Griffith University Logan Campus and film-friendly Brisbane Domestic Airport opened its doors to become Chiang Rai Airport. Two warehouses in Yatala were sourced for the production offices, as well as the construction of a large, custom-built water tank and cave interiors.  

Another drawcard for the production was the experienced Queensland crew base, particularly in the highly-specialised area of water work. Local crew – with prior experience on underwater sequences in international films such as Fool’s Gold, Nim’s Island, San Andreas, Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Shallows, Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Aquaman — all filmed at the tanks at Village Roadshow Studios.

Thirteen Lives was supported by the Queensland Government via Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy, which offers incentives for productions spending a minimum of AU$3.5 million in the state, in addition to the Federal Location Incentive. The production also made use of Screen Queensland’s bespoke services, including a physical production/COVID liaison, and location and scouting assistance.

On a local government level, the film received location recce assistance with a local location manager and a further incentive through the City of Gold Coast’s Screen Attraction Program, available to productions with a minimum spend of AU$750,000 within the region. The Gold Coast is the only city council in Australia to offer a film location incentive.

Further to its diverse locations, ideal climate and expert local crew, the Gold Coast region has much to offer visiting screen talent in their downtime. The region boasts some of the country’s most spectacular white beaches, lush rainforests and idyllic waterfalls, as well as experiences ranging from fine dining to theme parks.  This year, Queensland was officially dubbed Australia’s number one tourism destination.

 “I would like to thank Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Screen Queensland for their support of Thirteen Lives. I am thrilled to bring this film to Queensland and to work with many talented and skilled Australian artists over the coming months.”

 Ron Howard, Director

“There are many advantages here, it’s tropical, we can double Thailand exterior, we’ve got the expertise, the first-class crews to be able to execute water work, the builders to build these very accurate sets …”

John Kuyper, Producer

Thirteen Lives’ Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard took to Instagram to tell the world about his Queensland experience. 

“Queensland and the Gold Coast in particular, are one of the world’s playgrounds … a bunch of great restaurants, great beaches.”

John Kuyper, Producer

For more information about Queensland incentives, locations and studios, contact:

Naomi Wenck
Production Attraction Director
Screen Queensland
[email protected] | +61 7 3248 0500