Queensland’s Gold Coast is being thrust into the literal limelight as developments in the city’s screen industry pick up speed, with at least two reputable industry gatherings secured recently.
In January, the Gold Coast was announced as host city for the next three editions of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, regarded as the Australian version of the Academy Awards.
According to a press statement from the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), the wins will see AACTA president Russell Crowe, vice president Nicole Kidman and ambassador Cate Blanchett leading a lineup of talent on the Gold Coast, generating A$3.4 million (US$2.3 million) for the visitor economy.
AACTA will also develop several initiatives, including the expansion of its ScreenFest programme, which will be presented on the Gold Coast in the lead-up to the AACTA Awards in February 2024. ScreenFest will feature a range of screen culture and creative development activities covering all aspects of film, television and digital content creation, including workshops, skills and employment seminars, masterclasses, and showcases of local and international work. These will sit alongside programmes that support and amplify First Nations storytelling.
Another win for Destination Gold Coast, business events stakeholders and the local screen industry is the three-year contract to host Screen Forever, a business event that brings together local and international screen industry leaders across all genres and disciplines. The Gold Coast successfully delivered the 2022 edition in March, and will welcome the next edition this May.
Karen Bolinger, the interim CEO of Destination Gold Coast, said the screen industry development brings more than just star power to the Gold Coast.
“It leads to job creation, knowledge exchange in the space of film production, innovation and talent, and attracts investors and entrepreneurs in this industry,” said Bolinger during her meeting with TTGmice at AIME 2023.
Destination Gold Coast’s head of business events, Selina Sinclair, added that few knew about the ongoing “massive screen development that is going on here”.
“Baz Luhrmann relocated his production company HQ to the Gold Coast to make his Elvis biopic. Village Roadshow, which has also made big investments in the Gold Coast, operates the Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford. That is one of the largest studio lots in the Southern Hemisphere,” detailed Sinclair.
“Many of these studios are a product of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast – sporting infrastructure that has been converted for other uses,” she added.
It is estimated that Village Roadshow Studios alone has attracted about A$3.6 billion worth of film, reaffirming the city’s position as a movie-making heavyweight. Big-name movies to film in the city include Thor: Ragnarok; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; San Andreas; and The Shallows.
The big screen development resonates with Destination Gold Coast’s new brand, The imagination capital of Australia, which was unveiled in 2022 to spotlight the strength of the city’s health, innovation, education, screen and arts, and sports industries.
“There tends to be a one-dimensional view of the Gold Coast, as a place for sun, sand and surf. But the Gold Coast is not one dimensional,” asserted Bolinger.
Event owners that have to answer to stakeholders demanding “different outcomes from their events” will discover many positive aspects of the Gold Coast that will spur commercial achievements.
To emphasise the power and presence of the Gold Coast’s intelligent community, Destination Gold Coast launched a new ebook, The Imagination Collective, at AIME 2023. It comprises stories about the people, the industries and the growing pool of knowledge in the city.