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Film and animation studios look to Australia as huge 'game-changer' pool gets built in Melbourne

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This huge water tank has been described as a "game changer" for Victoria's film industry. (ABC News: Bridget Rollason)

This huge water tank has been described as a "game-changer" for Victoria's film industry. 

Australia is about to get a massive new 900,000-litre water tank for filming blockbuster movies on home soil.

The huge pool is 4.5 metres deep and is currently being built at Victoria's Docklands Studios inside one of the largest sound stages in the southern hemisphere, to attract more filmmakers Down Under.

"You might sink a submarine in there or go back to Esther Williams' days and combine synchronised swimming and musicals," Film Victoria CEO Caroline Pitcher said.

"It really is a game-changer when it comes to competing internationally and interstate — it will not only be for Hollywood to utilise but it will allow local talent to envisage big screen ideas and make them at home."

The pandemic has proved to be a silver lining for the Australian screen industry, which has become a global drawcard for companies looking to create and produce content.

Bento Box, founded by the producers of hugely popular animated TV shows including The Simpsons and Bob's Burgers, and owned by the Fox Corporation, have announced they will set up their first international studio in Melbourne, at Princess Pictures.

"Bento Box is arguably the biggest animation studio in the world with shows on every streaming platform," Founder of Princess Pictures Laura Waters said.

Princess Bento Studio will develop animated content from undiscovered, Australian-based creators and currently has three secret animation projects in the works.

"We're really excited to become an international hub for mature comedy animation and find 150 new writers, creators, and animators in Victoria," Ms. Waters said.

Games development sector booming

Victoria's screen industry has been hugely resilient during several lockdowns last year and has grown rapidly to become a multi-billion-dollar sector.

Blake Mizzi is the co-founder of League of Geeks, an independent game developer in Melbourne, which almost doubled its employees in the past 18 months.

"We started with just $40 in the bank and have grown from there," Mr. Mizzi said.

"There's an insatiable appetite for games and content online now and there's a hunger for more talent that can fill those highly technical jobs."

Mr. Mizzi, whose company is currently working on a secret video game with a private company, said the games sector was one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

"We're seeing huge levels of growth all around the world from the US to Europe and here in Australia," he said.

The company's first game, Armello — an animal fairy-tale, adventure-style game — won worldwide accolades and was the 2015 Australian Game of the Year.

"We have 50 staff now and another six jobs up online and we don't see that slowing down anytime soon," Mr Mizzi said.

Hunger for content drives Victorian film industry

The screen industry contributed $2.2 billion to Victoria's economy in the 2018-19 financial year.

It employs 17,000 people full-time, which is on par with the Victorian racing industry.

"We know as a result of the pandemic, people are hungry for content — they want to see more content streamed online and more often," Victorian Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson said.

"The joint venture between Bento Box and Princess Studios will ensure that we can produce world standard animation right here in the heart of Melbourne."

The Victorian Government has provided $46 million to the expansion of Docklands Studios in Melbourne, so it can cater to more local and international screen projects.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance Victorian director Adam Portelli said the boom in production showed there was global confidence in the state's screen industry to produce high-quality content.

"With the increased demand for screen content, the biggest constraint on production around the world is the availability of skilled technicians," he said.

"The government and industry would do well to look at how it can retain as many skilled people as possible by tackling long, family-unfriendly hours."

3 Comments

  • Ray Cooney

    Ray Cooney

    9:42 PM, 23-03-2021

    Looks like Melbourne may be trying to compete with other parts of Australia as the new Aussiewood.

    0 Reply
  • Suvir

    Suvir

    9:16 PM, 16-03-2021

    Great move Melbourne

    0 Reply
  • Bubacarr

    Bubacarr

    8:44 AM, 16-03-2021

    That's going to be overwhelming for melbourne

    0 Reply

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