The 12-month Sydney shoot of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions has just wrapped, leaving the legacy of a $110.6m contribution to the state economy and a host of titles lining up to shoot in production-friendly Australia.
Brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski shot the futuristic films simultaneously and will now finish as they started, directing additional scenes back home in San Francisco. "The 200-plus days of filming The Matrix sequels created 800 full-time jobs for 18 months, work for an additional 60 actors, 2,500 part-time jobs, and 10,000 days of work for extras," said New South Wales Premier Bob Carr. "The cast and crew also required more than 20,000 hotel nights."
Most of the activity occurred away from prying eyes at Fox Studios, although on three consecutive Sundays in July scenes involving a helicopter attracted big crowds in the nearby central business district.
An initiative known as The Premier's Department round table, at which government agency representatives share relevant information, helps shepherd through complex shoots like this one. "A few years ago they would not have been able to do this in Sydney," Garry Brennan told this month's Association of Film Commissioners International Cineposium. He works within State Government to institute film-friendly policies. "We staged the 2000 Olympics and it transformed attitudes and efficiency. It was event management writ large and it had to be done right."
Fox Studios has brought a surge in runaway production, although the Matrix films have an Australian link, being financed under the Warner Bros/Village Roadshow production joint venture. So too is director Steven Beck's drama Ghost Ship, which wrapped in Queensland recently.
With a new 12.5% tax rebate for big budget production, the low Australian dollar and the high skills base, a surge in runaway productions is being prepared for.
Now shooting in Queensland, with Miramax backing, is director John Dahl's war film The Great Raid, and David Grossman's George Of The Jungle 2, backed by Disney, which is also making Jungle Book 2 at its Sydney animation studio.
Paul Hogan's Peter Pan goes into production shortly, backed by Revolution Studios, Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures, as does Darren Aronofsky's sci-fi thriller The Fountain (formerly The Last Man), starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
Both are principally in Queensland but Sydney's Fox Studios will host some of The Fountain early next year before Star Wars again takes over. I, Robot, to be directed by Alex Proyas, had a tentative booking for the second half of 2002 but management is actively looking for an alternative.