The Illawarra is quickly becoming an “up-and-coming film gateway” with one film producer hoping his company played a small part in facilitating this.
After the success of their last feature RipTide, which was shot in the Illawarra, The Steve Jaggi Company has returned to the region to make Back of the Net. But something was evidently different.
“Just the year between Rip Tide and this film, the number of people working in the film industry and the number of companies that can facilitate feature films seems to have exploded,” Jaggi told the Mercury.
When the company first used the location in late 2016 they wanted to employ as many locals as possible but it proved incredibly difficult, he said.
“Now, we’ve got over a dozen of our crew who are actually living in the Illawarra, they’re not coming from Sydney,” Jaggi said.
“All the background artists are locals – they’re from the Illawarra, 100 percent, and probably about a quarter of the speaking roles are also Illawarra based.”
Behind the scenes the company has teamed up with Wollongong-based companies Relativity and Ten Alphas to provide cameras and equipment, whereas before they had to source it from Sydney.
“I’d like to think we played a small part in helping to develop the Illawarra as an up-and-coming film gateway,” Jaggi said.
Rip Tide starred Disney favourite Debby Ryan and has been the most successful feature for The Steve Jaggi Company. The G-rated family movie was released late last year and aimed at the tween market.
It made it into the top 10 Australian films at the box office for 2017 and was picked up internationally by Netflix.
That success, coupled with idyllic locations the Illawarra has to offer and the economic feasibility brought the company back. The new movie also has a recognisable face from children’s television, Sofia Wylie.
Back of the Net has worked with local councils and Destination Wollongong (DW) to secure shoot locations all over Wollongong and Kiama, including the Innovation Campus and Bombo Quarry.
DW general manager Mark Sleigh said the biggest bonus from having film crews in the region was “perception changing opportunities for Wollongong and the South Coast”.
“Sofia Wylie – who’s been staying here for the last couple of weeks at the Novotel – she’s been posting on Instagram every morning about what she’s doing today or the magic sunrise that’s outside her window. That going to a million of her followers all around the world is an opportunity you just can’t buy,” Mr Sleigh said
DW is currently working with local film-maker Corey Pearson who has two films – one of which was stars the late Jessica Falkholt –ready for post production.