Coffs Harbour set to become a new Hollywood
By MEL MARTIN
IF Christina Hyde gets her way, our region is about to see many more film and TV productions, as well as a whole new crop of home-grown filmmakers.
And there is no reason she shouldn't, with Film Mid North Coast Armidale re-launching itself with the new name ScreenLinks, a new location right here in Coffs Harbour, and extra support from the Enterprise and Training Company (ETC).
"Up until now, the film office has been funded partly by the State Government and partly by local governments, but every year, councils receive a huge number of funding applications," ScreenLinks manager Ms Hyde said.
"Now it will be funded by the State Government and ETC out of their community development program."
In just 15 months, the program had already taken giant steps, with lots of film and television productions filmed in our region, including segments of Superman Returns, and Khule Asman Ke Neche (Under the Open Sky).
But Ms Hyde has much bigger plans for the future.
She will continue to pitch the region to filmmakers, and plans to help develop the local industry by providing training and networking opportunities for established and budding local filmmakers.
And that's not to mention a new film festival, which Ms Hyde plans to start in Coffs Harbour.
"We'll provide summer school for young people aged between 15 and 20, and whatever products they come out with, they will be able to enter into the film festival. But entries will be sought nationally," she said.
"We already have a really interesting industry in our region. There are artists like director of Dirty Deeds, David Caesar; director of photography for films, including Driving Miss Daisy, Peter James; and director of photography for Priscilla, Brian Breheny, who live around here.
"This is a great next step for the program. It's all about growing the local film industry."
Minister for Regional Development David Campbell said ScreenLinks was the first regional film office in the State to secure substantial non-government funding to run its operation, which was being matched by the State Government.
"Since April 2005, the film office has assisted 12 film and television productions which injected $167,332 into the regional economy and created 55 local jobs that included work as extras, technicians, and support personnel," he said.
ScreenLinks is located at the ETC office and can be contacted on 6648 3980, or info@screenLinks.org. For more information or a copy of the e-newsletter, visit www.ScreenLinks.org.