Village Roadshow Studios located on Queensland’s Gold Coast celebrates 30 years this July. The studios are the heart and soul of the Queensland film and television industry since opening on July 22nd in 1988 and have hosted well over 155 productions during their 30 years of operation. Ten of those productions were attracted to the studios’ water tank, still the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Studio President, Lynne Benzie has worked at the studio for 28 years and has been instrumental in the development and growth of the site. She is a passionate advocate of the film and television industry and knows the immense economic value the studio has brought to businesses and the state of Queensland.
She says, “We have attracted projects with production budgets valued at AUD$3.6 billion dollars over the last 30 years of which AUD$1.8 billion has been physically spent in the state.”
Benzie has seen many changes and many productions over her tenure of the studios, and admits, “It is a great time to be celebrating 30 years, especially when the Australian Government announced the new $140m Location Incentive fund for international productions. What a fantastic gift for our industry.”
Large, medium or small the studios continue to accommodate enormous productions the size of Pirates of the Caribbean: Deadmen Tell No Tales, Kong: Skull Island, San Andreas, Thor: Ragnarok and more recently Aquaman accommodating 2000 or more cast and crew. Village Roadshow Studios really is one of Australia’s most unique sites catering for Hollywood studio tentpole productions as well as smaller co-production feature films and television series such as Guardians of the Tomb and all three seasons of Australian television series Mako: Island of Secrets.
From humble beginnings the site started with only four purpose built sound stages and an administration building in 1988 to today’s world-class facility offering nine sound stages including the MEGA stage – the largest in the southern hemisphere, three purpose-built water tanks, 10 production offices, wardrobe and construction buildings.
Having farmland so close to the studios provided an opportunity to expand the site with two purpose-built back lot sets for Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, Sakaar and Asgard Piazza, that took about 450 crew four months to build. This unique paddock space allowed the creation of two large and elaborate outdoor sets in an area that was in close proximity to the indoor sets. Conversley when Warner Bros.’s mammoth DC comic film Aquaman (starring Jason Momoa and Amber Heard) located at the studios they also utilised this outdoor location.
When the studios aren’t hosting film and television production the site is also utilised for major music rehearsals, product launches, commercials, live broadcast shows, sets and mazes for Movie World’s ‘Fright Nights’ and more recently the Commonwealth Games hosting squash, table tennis and boxing and attracting 70,000 spectators in 2018.
Queensland continues to be a one-stop destination for filmmakers offering diverse and spectacular locations, world-class crews and innovative post and VFX studios. When the director calls cut, crew, filmmakers and actors can take a short drive from the studios to the cosmopolitan city located on the beach and soak up the relaxed lifestyle.
Thor: Ragnarok’s producer Brad Winderbaum did just that and was a big fan of living and filming in the Gold Coast.
“It was a great place to make a movie,” he said. “I lived there for six or seven months. It gave us an opportunity to … paint on a brand new canvas. There were just so many amazing new environments we could put on screen … one of the most amazing crews, ever. It was a great place to live, with my family. Beautiful, beautiful place to be.”