The new film studios – more detail

Russell Crowe, Peter Montgomery, and Keith Rodger last Wednesday announced the Pacific Bay Resort Studios and Village at Coffs Harbour, NSW.

By Grant Cairncross, Editor CCO.

Today we delve deeper into what is proposed and what it might mean for the Coffs Coast.

Pacific Bay Resort Studios and Village on New South Wales’ Mid Coast have announced the new studios will be the first fully integrated feature-film production and post production complex in Australia, merging advanced virtual studios and sound stages with accommodation and lifestyle facilities. All located on 100 Coffs Harbour coastal resort acres.

Russell, Peter and Keith say their plan is to create a studio complex of the highest international standard, offering cast and crew a premium lifestyle with the latest virtual production technology, while ensuring Coffs Harbour and Australia benefit from delivering targeted on-campus career training supported by tertiary educational institutions such as the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) to help meet current skills gaps.

Olympian and resort owner/operator Peter Montgomery has long dreamed of enhancing Pacific Bay with something such as film-making and cultural facilities to attract world-class productions.

“A great deal of planning and consultation have gone into the design of the proposed Pacific Bay Resort Studio and Village,” says Mr. Montgomery. “Its proximity to Coffs Harbour airport and the data centre are complemented by the region’s outstanding climate and natural landscape. Our studios will cater for major international feature films as well as local productions, giving them the bonus of resort lifestyle in facilities that are designed to bring employment to the region and work in harmony with Coffs Harbour’s Regional City Action Plan.”

Keith Rodger said who has spearheaded the project said “lifestyle film-making with education as the fabric of the studio is what will set our studios apart . “By providing everything cast and crews need within the studio complex we can eliminate the time usually lost due to the logistics of bringing a production together in a major city or isolated regional studio.

“Our multiple Leading Edge Data Centre,400GB fibre links and well as our onsite processing and storage capabilities’ will allow offsite producers remote production access with near-zero (>1msec) latency. Real-time data is a given if we’re to appeal to our industries top producers,” says Mr. Rodger.

“It just makes budgetary sense to Integrate high-speed remote data access to sound stages offering equipment rental, trained local crews, production offices, post facilities, catering and accommodation.

“Combine that with LED virtual studios, sound-proofed stages, water tanks, a full resort and adjoining city offering the freshest and best cuisine: it’s our coastal lifestyle, all designed to make production more efficient, cost-effective and enjoyable for actors, crews and their families.”

Education and Industry Partners

Regional community and government support, along with the advanced technology underpinning the studio project, has attracted an impressive group of prospective film industry partners.

These include, but are not limited to: Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Destination NSW, screen industry & talent development organisation, Screenworks; tertiary schools such as the national Australian Television and Radio School; The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA); equipment rental house, VA Digital Hire; camera and lighting manufacturer and industry educator, ARRI; post production house Spectrum Films; Leading Edge Data Centres; Trackdown; and the company driving much of the Virtual production revolution in the film world, Lux Machina / Epic Games.

Plans Underway

Montgomery confirms that planning applications for the Pacific Bay Resort Studios and Village have been finalised for immediate lodgment with the NSW government as a State Significant Development.

The Capital Investment Value estimated by Quantity Surveyors Rider Levett Bucknall is $438,560,000.

An intense further refinement of the plans will commence after the NSW Governments official response which will also benefit from input from the Coffs Harbour City Council and other authorities. Potential industry partners will be given the opportunity to specify their needs well ahead of time.

The project aims to create large numbers of jobs and high skill careers for regional NSW in fields such as, but not limited to, construction, electrical, greens, animators, illustrators, editors, programmers, cinematographers, actors, accountants, production managers, hair and make-up artists, costume / wardrobe, drivers, caterers, stunt performers and the like.

Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, said the NSW Government “will investigate a range of options to support this exciting project.“ “This project has the potential to elevate Coffs Harbour to the world stage with international demand for filming space currently at an all-time high,” Mr Barilaro says.

“The Australian film industry employs 20,000 people and if the NSW Government can develop and support regional capacity in this area we can ensure the creation of an entirely new regional industry and a potential jobs boom for Coffs Harbour.”

See our original story about the launch of the studios here;

Lead photo: ABC Mid North Coast NSW, Melissa Martin

6 thoughts on “The new film studios – more detail

  1. Isn’t it a joy.

    So much to revel in. Pristine vision. That’s at its centre, its heart. And the difference that lived experience brings to projects. Nothing can simulate true expertise.

    It is true cultural development. In this case, the cultural form is an art form. Filmmaking. It is taking that form, and developing it. We can already feel the energy and mood of a film being made, the experience being created and captured so that we can then, when finished, have it, the audience. We can sense the mystique, the revealing of how this art form works, what goes into it, how it’s done. And yet nothing is there .. it’s in our imaginations, our beings, already. Whatever will it be like to actually witness it when it happens!

    We are being brought into the fold. For this art form. This is part of that pristine vision. Part of why it is so exceptional. Part of why we so much appreciate it, and why we know it works. We simply know it’s right.

    Films have grown to become one of the most powerful, transforming art forms of human life. Here it is, the inner workings, the secrets, made welcome. A gift to us.

    What then of the star power? Is that why we are so excited for it? If it were a new restaurant, or bar, or business of some other sort, filled with famous persons, would we be so appreciative? Communities around the world, where that’s happened, have reviled against it, after the initial star struck awe wears off. A bunch of famous people, bringing paparazzi and ogling trouble, and ruining the natural ambience that is the reason why they love where they live. No. Not this. Not at all. We love it for its creativity, for being brought into the secrets and workings of an art form, for it sharing with us how it’s done, what goes on …those things, mentioned so inadquately in this comment. The star power is the dressing. The true power is in its creative exposition, or exposition of creativity.

    We could analyse this forever. But people naturally get it. We get it when it’s done with lived experience, true expertise, pristine vision, and proper planning. In a location that equals it in inspiration. And with a genuine intent to enrich.

    These values are worth every effort to capture and present, when a community has the chance. Coffs has this chance, now. One chance, only. Then that’s it forever. The few locations left will be gone.

    Russell has said he had to travel across the Pacific, to work. What does that also show us? What risk is he taking? Let’s acknowledge that risk. He’s taking the risk that other actors, directors, experts, will travel across the Pacific to work right here.

    So how does he overcome that risk? He makes what he’s doing attractive for them. Fith-rate, even second-rate, isn’t attractive. Hodge podge planning doesn’t create an attraction, it’s always going to be known and recognised as that, felt and experienced as that. ‘Make do’, trying to fix a bad idea with a better idea, when that better idea is better done somewhere else, is even worse. No matter the glitz of glass and fit out, the carpet, the seats. It’s shoddy. It may be used, it may function, people will go there, because they have nowhere else to go, but it’s not an ‘attraction’.

    Lived experience. True expertise. The difference brings untold and untellable wealth and value.

    Folks, there’s no way the Gordon St position can be dressed up, changed, or whatever. The location is dull. That’s it. In modern city planning, the Gordon St location is ideal for housing, apartments and/or aged care. Let’s face it.

    Cultural development. The development of culture.

    How much we want it, as people. How much we thrill for it being respected, captured, revealed, properly. And we have the chance, once, now, to do this. And not just in one art form, and not just in art forms themselves. In foods and colours and dance and song and plays and concerts. With colours and kids and teaching and sharing and living it, human culture, our culture, all in the one place.

    A dedicated precinct, in the right location. Coffs Harbour can, after September, become known far and wide, very far and wide, for its two powerful cultural precincts. The two working in concert. ‘Working’ by radiating the pristine vision, the respect, the values, the joy and revelations and development of them, of who we are, as people, as people of this blessed location.

    That’s what working in concert means. It means the messages sent from these two cultural precincts are in unision, in strength, in excellence. Each is different. One is specific, one is diverse. It’s a combination of opportunity that only comes once, to a very, very scant communities worldwide.

    We can blow it. Boy oh by we can blow it. We can make do, we can say it’s too hard, we can say there are hurdles we cannot overcome. We can give ourselves a hundred excuses to turn from this chance.

    Please, let’s not disrespect this chance. Let’s be creative in how we open our arms to it, our minds, our hearts, and embrace it as though there is no tomorrow.


    1. A tad ironic don’t you think, 40c, that the principal enabler of the fifth-rate Gordon Street imposition got to share the podium and bask in the kudos with true visionaries and luminaries when the new film studios were announced.

      1. An incongruence of the saddest order, too, CLB. The greatest irony, of course, would be for voters to see into what Russell Crowe is creating, rise with heart at its cohesive clarity, to go on to create not one, but two projects of pristine vision. An aged care or affordable housing complex in Gordon St, on top of that carpark, and a cultural precinct of nationwide significance.

        The way it’s looking, if this direction holds, Denise Knight will take out with her not only other councillors but CHCC management.

        While here, if I may please add a couple of points. I hope that the big cost of the filmmaking studio doesn’t cloud an understanding of what a community precinct would cost. Filmmaking is of course the most costly of all art forms; even so, with the cost of an Entertainment Centre included, the remainder need not be costly at all.

        We have become used to local government, this incarnation particularly, that thinks it achieves by throwing money at something. Lacking talent, lacking experience and expertise, throwing money is the only way it knows. I feel it is important to isolate the McGrath council from a forward view of the community achieving its cultural growth. (That little town in Tassie became an international mountain biker destination by doing it from within.)

        Vast sums, alone, can be saved simply by harnessing the wealth of talent in the community. The McGrath council has turned its back on that (instead, it often fights it, expending and causing wider cost). It’s important to remember this isn’t the way it has to be.

        The question also is what the community would be willing to suffer, should it be forced to pay out the contractor’s penalties to stop the current Gordon St project. This is given a new mayor has what it takes to envision, or at least understand, a new precinct. I may upset a lot of people by saying the cost, if forced to do so, of twenty million is well worth it for the gains. A pittance, in the context of what the flood of visitors would bring.

        It has to be said again that there can be no doubt the builder entered that contract with full knowledge the project was shaking like a leaf in a maelstrom; picking up the pen to sign it with an election crossed out closely on the calendar, no less. Should a new mayor, or a candidate beforehand, call for a talk, you’d think the builder would be willing to go through alternative arrangements. The headlines would cement the builder in the public sentiment as a hero. Should the contractor wish instead to hold the contract as immovable, thereby in effect holding the community to ransom, sentiment would brand him with a word I’d rather not write.

        Consider it ridiculously optimistic, it is to me well within the bounds of reason, the way events and sentiments are moving, that the headline “Builder willing to negotiate” could arrive sooner rather than later. The subtext would be “as long as it’s reasonable” of course; and perfectly acceptably, which would make him a hero on the spot.

        Coming back to the cultural precinct costs, the most important thing is the plan. I understand people are chomping at the bit to get their Entertainment Centre, so let’s say they have one tomorrow. How long does it take to fill a year of bookings, of the high class performers they expect, and want it for? I don’t know. It could take a long time. Two or three years at least, for quality performers. Even if you get the building immediately, it’ll sit empty until you get the acts. These I expect would be difficult to co-ordinate and secure, being already committed in various far flung venues as they are.

        Sometimes I get the impression that people think the instant their Entertainment Centre is built it will be suddenly fully operational, with performers every week. The fact is we’ll all have to wait a while longer, so let’s put do it right.

        With that in mind, and locals and visitors relishing the experiences of going to an Entertainment Centre that’s within the festive wealth of a cultural precinct, it’s all sitting pretty for a new mayoral candidate to take control of the region’s cultural agenda. Let’s hope one has the eyes to see, the courage to say.

        This is why Russell’s vision is so valuable. Call it a portent, a sign, a godsend, a karmic reaction to the current, if you wish, but here it is. If not metaphysical, and a natural progression of an incredible career of an exceptional human being, with remarkable passion, then call it that. But we have it, it came in the nick of time, and it shows the way.

        We’ve spoken here about a city being an organism, with the CBD being within that also an organism. Russell again is showing us precisely that. His plan is an organism that will without doubt function so that each individual component is connected arterially to the others, in the best proximity, so the functions of his vision thrive.

        That is the very same principle of a community cultural precinct. With everything in the one place, one cultural form feeds into the others, enriching every resident and visitor and participant, giving them the richest possible cultural experience, while enriching the precinct itself. Below is a list of some cultural forms from which to take your pick, which I pinched off the internet as there are too many to think of, as starting ideas for what could go into this one integral place.

        This is very different from the hodge podge thing CHCC currently wants to do. You don’t see Russell putting one component on one side of the city, another component on the other. Almost unbelievably idiotically, that’s what is currently slated. Their idea is that a visitor or resident will get a drab of culture here, then go across town to get another dribble there, and so on. That, to them, is an ‘attraction’ and “cultural development”.

        That these minds even use the term “cultural development” for the piddly pittance they’re tossing at the public is, to me, a crime against culture. It can only most sympathetically be described as the ‘small town’ mentality. Build this hodge podge, it ends up being all but invisible. The impact of each component vanishes as a feather lost to the wind. Moreover, it’s nigh impossible, ridiculous even to expect it, that one would feed into another.

        This piddly pittance has the heavy weight of over $60 million. This being, say, about the cost of the.absolute.basics being removed. That these minds regard the.absolute.basics, taken away and given back, with bells and whistles, as “cultural development” isn’t only a cultural crime, it’s ignorance of the lowest order. This is a city. For goodness sake.

        So the true cultural precinct, true community cultural development, is a matter of community will, and lived experience and true expertise going into the designing of it. Consultants as we have come to know them do not have that lived experience: they aggregate data and knowledge as occurred elsewhere and package it into a document that ensures they get the weighty cheque. This, and not lived experience and true expertise, has persuaded, immovably, four councillors, upon which the poorest cultural future currently sits.

        Over sixty million dollars for public “cultural” elements other than library, gallery and museum. That’s the extra cultural dribble that you get out of it. That dribble, dislocated dribble, costs you $60 mil. It may be a heck of a lot more; somebody may want to calculate it.

        On the brighter path, to work in concert with Russell’s filmmaking precinct requires only that the principles are the same. It’s not about costs and expenses. A family, resident or visiting, can have an experience (or many exkperiences, over their time in it) that’ll have them talking about it for years, if those principles are in place, in even the most humble of buildings.

        The true cultural precinct flourishes because of the human content. The cultural forms and elements that it holds and celebrates, that it teaches merely by the doing, that it reveals and shares. The wealth in this is mindblowing.

        Some cultural elements for a cultural precinct:

        The arts – vast subdivision of culture, composed of many creative endeavours and disciplines. The arts encompasses visual arts, literary arts and the performing arts.

          Clothing – Fashion, Jewelry

          Gastronomy – the art and science of good eating, including the study of food and its multicultural qualities.

          Food preparation – act of preparing foodstuffs for eating. It encompasses a vast range of methods, tools, and combinations of ingredients to enliven a crowd.

          Drink – examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities, as means of a peoples’ engaging and expressing.

          Performing arts – those forms of art that use the artist’s own body, face, and presence as a medium.

          Circus – performance of a company of clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze artists, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other object-manipulating and stunt-oriented artists, and a ringmaster.

          Comedy – any discourse or work generally intended to be humorous or to amuse by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, television, film and stand-up comedy.

          Stand-up comedy – performance by a comedian in front of a live audience, usually speaking directly to them.

          Dance – art form of movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction, or presented in a spiritual or performance setting.

          Film – moving pictures, the art form that records performances visually. (Thanks Russell, you little beauty!)

          Theatre – a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place.

          Music – an art form the medium of which is sound and silence.

          Music genres in its vast varieties.

          Opera – an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score.

          Musical instruments – devices created or adapted to make musical sounds (in case someone didn’t know…)

          Stagecraft – technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and recording and mixing of sound. Interesting when it’s being taught.

          Visual arts – art forms that create primarily visual works (as opposed to smelling them).

          Architecture – The art and science of designing and erecting buildings and other physical structures.

          Crafts – recreational activities and hobbies that involve making things with one’s hands and skill.

          Design – the process for planning the overall look of an object

          Drawing – visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium.

          Film – moving pictures.

          Painting – the practice of applying paint, pigment, colour or another medium to a surface with a brush or other object. When demonstrated, is captivating for families.

          History of painting

          Photography – art, science, and practice of creating pictures by recording radiation on a radiation-sensitive medium, such as a photographic film, or electronic image sensors.

          Sculpture – three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials – typically stone such as marble – or metal, glass, or wood.

          Entertainment – any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time.

          Fiction – any form of narrative which deals, in part or whole, with events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary and invented by its author(s).

          Games – structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment, involving goals, rules, challenge, and interaction.

          Performing arts – those forms of art that use the artist’s own body, face, and presence as a medium. See above.

          Sports – organized, competitive, entertaining, and skilful activity requiring commitment, strategy, and fair play, in which a winner can be defined by objective means. Generally speaking, a sport is a game based in physical athleticism.

          Humanities – academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences.

          Mass media – diversified media technologies and their content that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication. Includes radio and television programming; mass publishing of books, magazines, and newspapers; web content; and films and audio recordings.

          Tradition – belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes (like lawyer wigs or military officer spurs), but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings.

          Celebration – Festivals – entertainment events centring on and celebrating a unique aspect of a community, usually staged by that community.

        As can be seen, incomplete and visibly pinched from the internet. A good list to start with, as it shows not only what you could have, but could miss out on unless action is taken right now.

        1. Editor: This is so good, and so right, I have chosen to run it, with some editing as a feature article.

          Last week while dwelling on how good Russell’s announcement was in so many ways it occurred to me that roughly three years ago, when Council was approached by Russell and Keith about the film studio idea they had, it would seem no one in Council thought; “Wow, a game changer! Perhaps we should re-visit the proposal we have for Gordon Street given new potential angles have become possible for a better all round cultural centre and tourism attractors”?

          Nope, no sign of that having been given serious consideration. Instead a blind desire to keep on pushing for minimal cultural facilities subsumed by their pet Council Chambers seemed to be the order of the day. Irrespective of what residents thought.

          Then this week we learn that the GM and senior staff were somewhat put out by Cr Amos’ suggestion that waste management outcomes should be a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for them! I mean, really?!

          This is what I had to say on a local Facebook site about that when a poster asked what was in a CoffsCoast Advocate story about the issue;

          “The GM and Senior Managers to have waste management as one of their KPI’s.
          The journo who wrote the story described that as ‘radical’.
          What I think is truly radical is the fact that it was not a KPI years ago!”

          And there, in two nutshells, we have a strong sense of what is wrong at the CHCC these days. (1). Absolutely no real vision as 40c states and, (2) no real sense of priorities or genuine responsibility either.

      2. CLB, Denise is a personal friend of Russells and was one of the first people he discussed this project with. Just a tad unfair of you don’t you think?

        Editor: Which, if true, only goes to make my above comment (reproduced below) even more relevant;

        “Last week while dwelling on how good Russell’s announcement was in so many ways it occurred to me that roughly three years ago, when Council was approached by Russell and Keith about the film studio idea they had, it would seem no one in Council thought; “Wow, a game changer! Perhaps we should re-visit the proposal we have for Gordon Street given new potential angles have become possible for a better all round cultural centre and tourism attractors”?

        Nope, no sign of that having been given serious consideration. Instead a blind desire to keep on pushing for minimal cultural facilities subsumed by their pet Council Chambers seemed to be the order of the day. Irrespective of what residents thought.”

        1. I suspect the Mayor’s presence on the dais at the film launch at Pacific Bay had everything to do with protocol actually.

          Those who *really know* would also know who was not invited to a very important event hosted by Russell on his farm on Saturday 5 June.

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