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Queensland has saved a Hollywood blockbuster, but the local film industry is still missing out

Ella Donald writes in The Conversation (28.3.18) about the Queensland Government’s attempts to lure big-budget film productions to the state. The author argues that more effort and funding should go to creating a sustainable local industry beyond Dora-style, Hollywood productions.

‘On March 18, Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk triumphantly announced that Dora had been saved. News that the Dora the Explorer live action film would be made there followed a week-long campaign by the state government and Screen Queensland calling on the federal government to increase its support for it.

‘Dora the Explorer is the latest international blockbuster-in-the-making to come to Queensland’s film studios, transforming the state into a Hollywood backlot of sorts. International productions are encouraged to make films in Australia through federal government rebates on production costs, administered through Screen Australia.

‘In the case of Dora, the government had been asked to “urgently increase” its standard tax offset from 16.5% to 30%. It refused, with treasurer Scott Morrison saying that Queensland was “well placed to provide the necessary top-up grant”. The state government reportedly chipped in the extra cash for Dora to come to Queensland, but will not say how much. Screen Queensland has previously come under scrutiny for transparency around incentives given to the Pirates of the Caribbean film in 2015.

‘While the “saving” of Dora is great for the film’s production workers, it raises questions about the dependence of Queensland – and Australia’s screen industry – on international movies. This week, 215 screen industry representatives, including Cate Blanchett, Richard Roxburgh and Anthony Lapaglia signed an open letter calling for “competitive tax incentives”, although did not specify a figure.’

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