More than 100 requests from film, television and fashion crews have been made to Illawarra councils this year, with tourism bosses hoping to capitalise.
From Home and Away and House Rules to a Men’s Health magazine shoot and a feature film with a Disney star, the region is increasingly pulling big names and big dollars.
Peak tourism body Destination Wollongong (DW) said they were working to take advantage of the economic viability of the area as a filming destination and further promote a burgeoning industry.
“We did an assessment on Back of the Net [filmed in April] and found it probably injected more than $300,000 into the local economy with 40 cast and crew shooting for a month,” major events manager Jeremy Wilshire said. “Filming can be looked at as a major event in regard to how it stimulates the visitor economy.”
Other recent projects have included Foxtel’s new four-part drama Lambs of God starring Ann Dowd (The Handmaid's Tale), music videos and numerous television commercials.
While, the Mercury understands the Illawarra will again be used as the backdrop for a major Australian feature film this November with highly recognizable movie stars.
Mr Wilshire said it was “early days” but DW was looking to create a digital dossier of all the film and television services available in the region – such as post-production facilities, sound and lighting hire – to present to national and international location scouts.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said since January they have seen 76 applications for filming or photography in the local government area.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of companies wanting to feature our beautiful beaches, escarpment, parks and bushland over the last three years,” Cr Bradbery said. “It gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our city to a wider audience.”
Since the start of the year 30 applications to film on Crown Lands were received by Kiama Council, and four were received by Shellharbour Council.
Mr Wilshire said the region was appealing because the streets were less crowded than capital cities but still had sufficient infrastructure for backdrops and was more economical.
“We’re excited by the market opportunities that seem to exist,” he said. “It’s an exciting sector to engage.”