By George! Canberra film industry goes from strength to strength

Posted 15 Aug 2017

Story by CBR Canberra

By George Studios is a Canberra-based production house that’s been operating in the capital since 1998. Writer, producer and founder of the business, Georgina Jenkins, says By George’s location is far from accidental.

“Being based in Canberra is fantastic because there are so many resources here. The government connections are really valuable, as well as the universities and national peak bodies,” Georgina said.

Georgina and By George partner Robb Shaw-Velzen ACS have watched the film and television production industry in Canberra develop and flourish.

“The screen industry has grown in strength, particularly over the last ten years. Screen Canberra has been busy plugging us into what’s happening nationally, building a relationship with Screen Australia and instigating an ACT Government fund to encourage productions to come to Canberra,” she said.

It was when By George studios won a Hollywood contract, that they knew Canberra was officially on the international map.

“Ten years ago, we landed a big job filming the behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of Tom Hanks’ and Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Pacific’,” Georgina said.

“We’re based in Canberra but we can work for clients anywhere in the world; especially now with high-speed internet which we didn’t have when we started!”

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Robb shooting the Canberra feature film BLUE WORLD ORDER due for release early next year.

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By George’s short film PAST IMPERFECT was selected for the 2015 Byron Bay International Film Festival

By George Studios’ Canberra location was key to it recently winning another international contract, this time with the American National Basketball Association (NBA).

“The NBA runs training academies around the world for students to potentially become international basketballers, and they’re starting one at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). They needed a crew on the ground here to film so we got the gig,” Georgina said.

Canberra is also on the rise as a filming destination with more producers choosing Canberra as a location, which helps build local practitioners’ skills and connections.

Australia’s first Hindi film, Salt Bridge, showcases various locations across the Canberra region including Tidbinbilla, Black Mountain Peninsula, the National Arboretum Canberra, Lake Burley Griffin and Murrumbateman.

“The screen production industry here is really exploding,” said Georgina. “We’ve had two series of ABC’s ‘The Code’, Foxtel’s ‘Secret City’ (with both Robb and Georgina worked on) and the feature ‘Joe Cinque’s Consolation’ all filmed here in just the last couple of years.

“’Secret City’ will be back next year, I believe ABC’s ‘Rake’ is also looking to film here, and I heard the BBC was in the region recently filming the endangered marsupial the quokka,” she said.

Equally as exciting is the development and production of film and television projects by local filmmakers, such as Ché Baker, whose sci-fi feature ‘Blue World Order’ is being released in cinemas in the next couple of months.

“Ché’s  film was shot entirely in the Canberra Region with a largely Canberra crew, including Robb as Director of Photography.  It’s currently doing the international festival circuit and has already picked up several awards in Europe and the US.”

If there’s one thing Georgina and Robb are passionate about, it’s creating opportunities for emerging local talent.

“Canberra breeds very talented creatives but keeping them here has historically been tricky.  In the past, fewer local opportunities meant graduates were relocating to Melbourne, Sydney and further afield – we’ve even exported to Hollywood ,” said Georgina.

“But with more and more feature films and television series being filmed here in Canberra, we’re increasing employment opportunities and attracting talent to stay here for good.  It’s a really exciting time for the Canberra screen industry.”

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