Inside Coast mansion’s ‘magical’ film set
A MAJOR "magical'' production being filmed hidden away in Gold Coast suburbia is a "first'' in many ways.
TV series Bureau of Magical Things is the first production in Australia to get underway and revive the industry after the shutdown in response to the coronavirus.
And the COVID safety precautions set in place by executive producer Jonathan M. Shiff are becoming a manual for other filmmakers and the wider arts industry in Australia.
Cast and crew of the award-winning children's fantasy series have taken up occupancy in a luxury mansion at Broadbeach Waters. Masks and social distancing are the priority at all times when not shooting.
The production, which was previously shot in an Arundel studio, was shut down in March due to the pandemic. But after developing a unique COVID plan and with City of Gold Coast funding support, Mr Shiff has been able to return the multimillion-dollar production to the Glitter Strip this month.
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"It's a spend of $9 million in the local area. It's an $11.1 million show. It's 200 jobs. It's a big production.," Mr Shiff said. "Originally some time ago it was scripted for 80 per cent Gold Coast and 20 per cent Asia. And then of course with COVID, we had to rethink that and strategise."
Iconic Gold Coast locations from Mt Tamborine to the Botanic Gardens at Benowa and the Carrara Markets have been used in scenes.
The Broadbeach Waters mansion will be used until filming ends in September.
"We've used Mt Tamborine to resemble the Vietnam jungle. Carrara Markets was used before the COVID shutdown as a Bangkok night market," Mr Shiff said.
"The beauty of the Gold Coast is you have so many worlds you can create.''
The Broadbeach Waters house had been used previously in 2008 for his series The Elephant Queen, which had starred Margot Robbie.
The Bulletin was taken on an exclusive tour of the set. We were asked to sign in, have temperature checks and to wear masks at all times.
"You can't just have the one make-up truck because you can only use two chairs. (We needed) two buses, more green rooms, more portable offices and spaces, more staff,'' he said.
"Once you start putting all the extra crew you need, you have $500,000 to $600,000 more to spend for COVID safety. Our COVID manual is now being shared with other filmmakers and people in the arts industry in Australia.''
Industry insiders say other major productions are in talks of resuming films and TV series on the Gold Coast, where Queensland coronavirus restrictions are less strict.
The Bureau of Magical Things is supported by City of Gold Coast, Screen Queensland and Screen Australia.
Originally published as Inside Coast mansion's 'magical' film set