At the Screenworks launch at Heritage House Bangalow were (from left) Don Page, Lois Randle, Deb Cox, Jill Moonie and Lisa O’Meara.
At the Screenworks launch at Heritage House Bangalow were (from left) Don Page, Lois Randle, Deb Cox, Jill Moonie and Lisa O’Meara. BLAINEY WOODHAM

Film industry spends $10m

THE NORTH Coast prides itself on being a community full of creative endeavour.

This is especially so in the case of the film industry but it's hard to know just how big the industry is here in the region.

According to general manager of Northern Rivers Screenworks Jill Moonie there was $10 million in film industry expenditure in the Northern Rivers in 2011.

"One of our challenges is finding out just how big the film making business is on the North Coast," she said.

"I get hundreds of calls per month for small and large production looking for crews," said Lisa O'Meara, events and membership manager of Screenworks

"We have more than 300 film industry workers on the books and get at least a couple of new people arriving in the area every week."

One woman who knows the North Coast film business better than most is Deb Cox.

Ms Cox is the creator, writer, producer behind numerous iconic Australian TV series including Seachange, East of Everything and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.

Miss Fisher is currently showing on the ABC and Ms Cox is working with Casino writer Jon Bell developing another series called the Kings of Wheat Street to be filmed in the region.

"The film industry enriches the area, there is a fabulous fabric of networks up here," said Ms Cox.

"When we did East of Everything we had a hard time convincing the state funding bodies that that there was enough expertise here to mount the production.

"But the series really flushed out the talent that was here on the Northern Rivers.

"We had a crew of about 100 for East of Everything but it's hard to quantify the financial impact because of the multiplier effect.

Ms Cox is working with Rhoda Roberts on another mini series, Blood Sister, also to be filmed in the area, subject to finance.

Ms O'Meara said there were other low budget productions made in the area that give local film industry professionals the opportunity to make connections with city-based film makers and producers.

"The Northern Rivers offers beautiful locations and has an international reputation as a film making destination," she said.

Kings of Wheat Street came about came through a Screenworks consultancy Ms Cox ran through THRIVE, a professional development program aimed at helping local creators develop their skills.

Screenworks launched this year's THRIVE program last week and is calling for expressions of interest from emerging and mid-career screen practitioners to take part.

Screenworks will offer screen composing workshops next week with internationally awarded screen composer Antony Partos.

His credits include The Slap, Rake, Crownies, Animal Kingdom and Disgrace.

His workshop will give insight into building a career as a screen composer. Screenworks Composing For Screen workshops will be held at Grafton TAFE on May 10th and SAE Byron campus on May 11th.

Lisa O'Meara: 6687 1599 or events@screenworks.com.au.



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