The South Australia Film Corporation's (SAFC) new production and administration complex will be officially opened today by Mike Rann in what will be one of his final acts as South Australian premier before Jay Weatherill takes over.
During his nine-year reign, Rann has been more supportive of the film industry than any of the other state leaders. During this time the Adelaide Film Festival has blossomed and now the SAFC is starting a new phase of its life.
The SAFC has moved to the Adelaide suburb of Glenside and is part of an arts and cultural precinct that is, in turn, part of an extensive $300 million redevelopment, which also includes health, commercial, residential and retail facilities.
SAFC chief executive Richard Harris said $45 million has been spent on the SAFC's new home, with a significant amount of that going to the restoration and strengthening of several beautiful old buildings, built in 1870 as a mental asylum. One of the ideas behind the project was to “destigmatise” the site, he added.
Any remaining ghosts could well be scared away by Wolf Creek 2, the first feature that will be filmed in the new studios. Like the original, it will be directed by Greg McLean, John Jarratt will play a very unsavoury killer of unwitting tourists, and the Australian landscape will feature heavily.
Ninety per cent of the South Australian locations have been locked down, according to producer Matt Hearn, but about two weeks of filming will occur at the SAFC and they could return to use the sound mixing theatre during post-production.
The mixing theatre is currently being used by director Rolf de Heer for his comedy/thriller The King is Dead, the last film to be shot at the SAFC's former premises at Hendon. It is about a couple who move into a suburb and have trouble with their neighbours. It stars Dan Wyllie, Bojana Novakovic, Gary Waddell, Luke Ford, Anthony Hayes and Lani John Tupu.
The SAFC invested in both these films. It is the oldest state film agency in the country and dates back to a time when these government-owned organisations didn't just invest in films made by independent filmmakers but made their own. Sunday Too Far Away, Storm Boy, Breaker Morant and The Club were all made by the SAFC in the six years up to 1980.
But there should be no yearning for the glory days, said Harris, because the SAFC invested in Red Dog, which was two-thirds filmed in South Australia and has now sold $20m worth of tickets, putting it in the all-time top 10 list of local hits. Oranges and Sunshine and Snowtown also received investment from the SAFC.