Lights, cameras, action: Gold Coast ready for its close-up

It’s Australia’s largest non-capital city and attracts creatives like moths to a flame. Now researchers from QUT’s Creative Industries faculty have been commissioned by City of Gold Coast to conduct a study into the region’s independent screen production.

Associate Professor Dr Mark Ryan, Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham, and Dr Phoebe Macrossan will interview local producers, writers, directors, and online content creators creating film, television, documentary and digital/online content production (eg. YouTube, other social media, subscription video on demand, web-series and short form commercialised content).

“The Gold Coast has long been a popular destination for film and television makers, including plenty of large Hollywood productions, but we want to speak to people who live and work on the Gold Coast, or at least call the Gold Coast their primary place of business,” said Dr Ryan.

“From Fools Gold and Scooby Doo, to more recent productions like Thor: Ragnarok, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Aquaman and Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the Gold Coast has played host to numerous big-budget movie productions.

“It has also been the base for a number of television productions including Big Brother Australia, Toasted TV, The Bureau of Magical Things, Terra Nova, H20: Just Add Water, and Mako: Island of Secrets.”

Dr Ryan (below right) said the more high profile productions filming at the Village Roadshow Studios employed a great number of people but there was also a largely unexplored ecosystem of independent screen producers making independent feature films, web series and working in video production for online and other commercial purposes based on the Gold Coast.

“It is this independent production we are after for our survey. We want to hear from Gold Coasters involved in production occurring outside of the Village Roadshow Studios,” he said.

“The aim is to create a more complete picture of the Gold Coast screen production ecosystem.

“Caldwell Entertainment, Bordertown Films, and Glass Media Group are companies with a body of work for corporate clients, television content, music videos, show reels and more, while Lotus Production House, Fish Films, and Denoux Films Productions specialise in independent feature film, documentary or television productions.

“There are many others and then there are the solo operators and freelancers.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the QUT-led study offered an opportunity for independents to have their say and help shape future council policy.

“Film and screen production is an important and growing sector of the Gold Coast economy; one that generates a large number of jobs and millions of dollars for the local, and Queensland, economy,” Mr Tate said.

“The big-name blockbusters attract a lot of attention but there is a lot of independent activity that currently flies under the radar. Having a more detailed understanding of the industry and how council can support the growth of the sector is of critical importance to the Council of the City of Gold Coast.

“I want to hear what people in the industry think will grow the independent local screen content production sector on the Gold Coast.”

The survey seeks to capture the characteristics of the independent screen production workforce, as well as what their primary markets are, formats they work in, main source of income, career pathway, job security, challenges, awareness of funding schemes and plans for producing more social media/online or virtual reality content.

Surveys will be sent to key producers, directors, writers and online screen content makers in the week beginning 4 November. To participate in the survey, go to

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