A major underwater filming facility is to be built in Sydney, which is being billed as one of the biggest and best in the world by the company behind the project.

Industry veterans Greg Timms and Simon Kerslake are working at "breakneck speed" in order to accommodate several projects already in negotiation.

Timms said all council approvals were in place and construction of Sunrise Film Studios was about to begin in Lane Cove, a suburb less than 10 kilometres from the central business district and Fox Studios. The only other tank in Australia is at the Warner Roadshow Movieworld Studios in Queensland.

A fully soundproof shooting stage of 2,000 square metres, 90% floodable to a depth of 1.5 metres and with a 20x20 metre section that is six metres deep, will be constructed first, along with a filtered, heated exterior tank. The tank will be 18 metres in diameter and able to be flooded to a depth of five metres. The stage will also be available dry and have a replaceable floor.

LA-based Pete Romano is acting as technical advisor on the project and will establish a branch of his equipment company Hydroflex Inc at the site. Romano has won technical Academy Awards for the development of equipment made on The Abyss and for the development of underwater camera housing systems for motion pictures.

Further plans allow for a second stage and two further tanks at the Sunrise Film Studios, taking capacity to over 3,500 square metres of controlled sound stages and a total of four tanks.

Timms and Kerslake have about 40 years of experience between then in a variety of film industry roles and have been planning the project for two years. They chose Australia because it is already seen as an ideal location for water-based filming due to its beaches and waterways, and argue that this provides a vital missing element.

Timms would not put a price on the project, which is being financed by the private sector.