In an effort to turn around the perception that Sydney is unfriendly to film-makers, the New South Wales (NSW) Premier has promised to make it easier to shoot on location by putting the pressure on local councils and government agencies.
New legislative amendments would require authorities to approve film-making applications, unless there were compelling reasons not to, NSW
Premier Morris Iemma, speaking at Sydney's Fox Studios Australia., said location filming fees would be pegged to recovering costs, not to making a profit.
The regulations governing temporary road closures and traffic management while filming, the erection of temporary filmmaking structures such as sets and catering tents, and the parking of large film vehicles, would also be simplified.
'This package is a kick in the pants to all involved, with a message to get on board with this vibrant industry, which belongs right here in NSW,' said Iemma. 'I want councils and government agencies to do everything in their power to encourage filming.'
Iemma also promised a code of conduct to be drawn up between his government, the Local Government and Shires Association and the screen industry. The new package of initiatives will be progressively introduced from July.
Antagonism towards the NSW Government peaked in late 2006 when figures issued by the Australian Film Commission showed that NSW drama production levels were the lowest in 10 years and more activity was happening in Victoria.
The location choices made by foreign producers was a key factor at the time. The government got a media hammered again in recent weeks for its lack of action.
There was a bounce of NSW activity in 2006/07, with $260 million (A$280 million) worth of drama going into production in 2006/07, which represented 45 per cent of all national production compared to the 24 per cent captured by both Victoria and Queensland.
Each year for the last five, however, NSW production companies have been responsible for between 64 and 78 per cent of all activity.
State agency Film Victoria has spent a good deal of effort in the last year or two helping its local councils to streamline policies and approval processes, and efficiently use the web for marketing