Film Studio or Property Developers' Land Grab?

Hollywood Film Director Named

The Fremantle Society wants good planning that achieves quality results, not election stunts and immature feel good land grabs where heritage is treated as a problem instead of an asset.

The proposed film studios for Victoria Quay are a good idea in the wrong place.

The award winning Hollywood director who wrote and agreed with our concerns, and whose comments we posted to you yesterday, has agreed to have his name published and to make further comments about what is needed.

Dean Head will meet with the Fremantle Society, and has offered to help get our message out through videos - see the one on Youtube we launched last week called Parking Freo done by Lehani Ani, which has already attracted more views than 10 of Mayor Pettitt's videos combined.

We are also grateful to member Angie Lyndon, the cartoonist, for providing some light relief above.

Director/Cameraman Dean Head, who has been living and filming in Hong Kong and China for the past 30 years and has been confined to WA due to Covid, has worked on multiple Hollywood blockbusters from Transformers 4 and Tomb Raider II to Rush Hour II and Batman - The Dark Knight, plus myriad of international television productions over his 40 year career, agrees that WA must have a studio especially with our Southern Californian / Mediterranean climate which is conducive to more filming days, however, believes that any studio complex should be located on land, supplied by the government, that has views, if physically possible, of ocean in one direction, bush in another, Perth city in another and suburbs in the fourth view such as empty lands south or north of the city rather than at an operating Port. This is only if the economics can work  with the government donating the land and all parties first coming together in the design to work out the enormous level of logistics it would involve which would include the need to bring crew & equipment from over East of Australia or overseas to support the handful of experienced crew here in Perth plus they must utilise Screen West's "attachment" initiative whereby local crew our attached to more experience visiting crew with an allowance plus experience learnt as payment. If no land area exists to facilitate good economics of that concept then an area closer to Perth airport would have to suffice.

It is important to note that no studio around the world actually enjoys the luxury of having professional crew filming a professional production whilst simultaneously having members of the public, and their associated noise, pass by on paid tours to see where certain scenes of films were shot except at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The reason that location works is because all stake holders came together 'before' anything was designed or built and all agreed on what would work including what we call 'itc' (intermittent traffic control) whereby tour guides who are in direct contact with production assistants intermittently stop tours when a 'take' is being filmed. When the camera stops the traffic then continues on. We utilise this technique when filming in cities such as Hong Kong.

What WA needs right now is overseas promotion of its wonderful weather and blue skies giving excellent images for filming, promotion of our unique and amazing fauna & flora and our benefit of being in the same time zone as China.

With that, Dean is currently in pre-production to direct a kids adventure movie here that will promote WA to China and  the world plus deliver good moral messages. An Oscar winner is involved plus some other very heavy hitters from the film and also the music industries who Dean has worked and is now friends with and Dean would most definitely need to  utilise any studio space if any were available but at the moment he is looking at Heng Dian World Studios in China, whom he is very close with, as an alternative. Dean has been committed to promoting WA to China, Hollywood and Bollywood and helping the local film industry get more work and more experience for several years and continues to do so.

Dean also commented:
"Studio designer, Mike Lake, is involved in the Fremantle Port studio development idea announced by McGowan's government. Mike explained to me that many stakeholders have already been brought in for their professional advice especially in terms of sound proofing and is quite happy that his studio design will provide a professional studio. I have no doubt of that especially knowing that Mike also designed the studios over Eastern Australia plus the Pinewood Iskandar studios in Malaysia. He explained that his part is the studio design only, not the environs, and is not fully aware of other areas around the studio the developers are planning. In terms of 'convenience' it would make sense to have a studio near Perth or 
near Fremantle making all the logistics nice n easy and trouble free but that convenience can directly  affect productions in terms of nearby noisy public or inebriated individuals who decide it's fun to jump in  front of the camera, or security of actors & crew & equipment who may be filming exteriors, general  expensive interruptions to a filming schedule all of which have happened to productions I've worked on.

There is always a compromise involved and allowing the tail to wag the dog instead of the dog wagging the tail means many miss out, unnecessarily. What the government really must do, in order to cover  themselves is check that this project is actually about a 'film studio' for professional filming rather than a property developers dream and land grab which I've seen in other places, with near total disregard to the film side of things."

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society




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