Partner up with Australia:

Paramount Pictures & Screen Queensland

Dora The Explorer is perfect for Queensland and we knew Queensland was perfect for us, but getting it made here was a true testament to perseverance and two partners working together to make sure it happened.

LEE ROSENTHAL
PRESIDENT, PHYSICAL PRODUCTION
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Queensland was our number one choice for filming as the story takes place in a great jungle location but also has city elements. Plus, we knew we’d have to build on substantial stages and need access to a large water tank, as well as be able to find varied terrain. All those elements working together are not something you find easily in the one place. But the Gold Coast has it all.

On our earliest location scouts we were blown away by the depth of what we could find in Queensland to meet all those requirements, and once I saw it with my own eyes on a short trip, it made the decision to go there easy.

What also struck me was how well all the departments on the film work together. It’s not always that seamless. You have great art departments, great special effects, camera departments. The crews have all exceeded my expectations. It makes for a happy production long-term.

The building crew that established Dora’s house in the jungle was brilliant. We were two weeks away from signing the deal to make Dora in New Zealand, as the Australian Government top-up that would have increased the incentive from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent wasn’t available to us. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asked us to extend our deadline by 48 hours, and she was able to step up the incentive that her government could provide, making it viable for us to come to Queensland.

I’ve also always admired the Australian VFX sector. I am very impressed with their work. The continued investment in growing talent is the key to a strong sector.

The fact that we are able to animate Dora’s friends on site in Queensland as the live-action is filming makes it invaluable to have the movie located there.

Dora the Explorer

Screen Queensland are also great at keeping in touch. With them it’s not about ‘what can we do for you now’ but about keeping us updated all the time with what’s happening in the industry there. That back and forth communication goes a long way to making you feel confident in your partnership.

The Hollywood studios though need the incentives to make our budgets work. The overriding emphasis in our industry is on incentive programs. And the best programs are consistent and well-funded. To have that in place is the best possible way to reinforce a good working relationship.

We are very grateful that Queensland’s top-up incentives made Dora The Explorer work for Queensland.

 

TRACEY VIEIRA
CEO
SCREEN QUEENSLAND

The key for me with international productions is people. We are always working to build trust and rapport with the intention of providing meaningful outcomes.

We have a number of long-term relationships and they allow us to have frank and honest conversations about the needs on both sides. I have known folks at Disney, for example, for a long time. Those relationships led to us securing Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. And the strength of those relationships mean we were able to bring in additional people that wouldn’t have necessarily been in the room for production meetings. We could include conversations with the marketing departments in the early stages and find out how the film and its release aligned with both our brands. We were then able to capitalise on that to work with tourism programs.

While we will always be able to accommodate tentpole films, which aren’t going away, the energy around the US studios at present is with films in the mid-range budget. There’s now an appetite for family-friendly films with a ‘lighter and softer’ focus that provides a balance for the tentpoles. Dora The Explorer and a lot of other projects are in that mid-range and for us they provide a good counterbalance to the tentpoles that we’ve done back-to back like Pirates, Thor: Ragnarok and Aquaman.

In addition to feature films we’ve done a lot of work with the SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) market. I was based in the US in the early days of Netflix so I had early access to what they were doing and have been able to leverage those relationships. There are also a lot of people that had been at the studios and other companies who are now at Netflix.

Queensland doesn’t have the benefit of a TV distribution and broadcast base in the state so we had to think creatively about how we could access that shift to SVOD. Netflix have worked with us a lot on development and we have also worked closely with (Australian SVOD service) Stan and we are making their first feature with them.

The trend globally in story direction towards SVOD has been a gamechanger for Queensland. There are not the same barriers that broadcast TV has. The question is: is the story interesting enough and will it travel? Our best opportunity was not to look locally but globally. Michael Ribera at Netflix has been instrumental in working with us to workshop and develop high-end drama from this market. That’s led to Tidelands, Netflix’s first full Australian commission which is being produced here in partnership with Brisbane-based Hoodlum Entertainment.

It’s all about making sure we are thinking big and thinking international. Making that work depends on partnerships, which all come down to trust, rapport and meaningful conversations. It’s about being comfortable enough with each other to say: “I know what you need but these are things that I need and we don’t compromise”.

You live and die by your reputation in this industry as, globally, it really is a small industry. Queensland, I like to think, has a great reputation, which adds to the capacity we have to make tentpole films, mid-range features and high-end TV for the global market.

 

For more information about Screen Queensland’s support, contact:

Gina Black
EVP, Production Incentive & Attraction
[email protected]
screenqueensland.com.au


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