Pride in Queensland Stage and Screen Industries Dinner
Representing the Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Olympics, Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing, the Honourable Grace Grace MP; distinguished guests, good evening.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and extend respectful greetings to Elders, past, present and emerging. The ancient cultural traditions of our First Nations people enrich and inform us all.
Graeme and I are so thrilled to welcome you to Government House this evening. We are truly inspired by the depth of talent in this room. As Governor of Queensland, I have invited you here this evening for two special reasons. The first, is to commend you—on behalf of all Queenslanders, and, in fact, our entire country—for your amazing efforts and achievements in your various fields, many of which have earned you accolades and awards.
The second, is for us to celebrate the tremendous vitality of Queensland’s screen and stage industry—which you are representing tonight—and how much and how widely it is valued, both here and around the world.
Despite and, perhaps, in spite of COVID, the Arts sector here is fighting back with avidity, and it seems that peoples’ desire to be entertained and enlightened is stronger than ever. This thirst for content has generated significant interest in what we have to offer—in the abilities and skills of our people, in our world-class facilities, and in our positive, supportive attitude.
Our State’s immense creative energy permeates every aspect of the stage and screen production processes—from inception to realisation—and our capabilities are attracting growing global attention.
Yet, we must acknowledge from the outset, that the current success we are enjoying has been built on very strong foundations, so I pay special tribute tonight to the ground-breaking efforts of Jon Dowding—film designer of the original iconic Mad Max film, and producer and director John Stainton—who created The Crocodile Hunter franchise…both of whom are still very much involved in the industry today.
When it comes to the big screen, South-East Queensland is fast becoming a movie-making hotspot—helped, in no small way by the outstanding efforts of Screen Queensland—represented tonight by CEO Kylie Munnich—and the support and enthusiasm of our State Government.
A hundred years ago, one of Queensland’s pioneering filmmakers, Charles Chauvel said of his newly formed production company: “It is our intention to produce films in Queensland and wherever possible to use Queensland talent in all departments of our work. Queensland, with its excellent climate conditions…and its beautiful and varied scenery is undoubtedly one of the best parts of Australia in which to produce motion pictures…”
He was so right, and wouldn’t he be pleased to see us now!
We are proving over and over, that we have all that is required—right here in this State—to facilitate phenomenal moviemaking…From local productions—such as Stan and Screen Queensland’s The Second filmed in South-East Queensland, written by Stephen Lance and directed by Mairi Cameron, to massive international blockbusters, exemplified by Baz Luhrmann’s visionary Elvis.
We have earned a wonderful reputation for having brilliant local actors, skilled and experienced crew, and the cutting-edge studios and post-production services required to create stunning films.
I know Oscar winning designer Catherine Martin and acclaimed producer, Schuyler Weiss would both agree that Elvis has proved that anything is possible here, as I believe the scope of this spectacular film required over 9,000 individual outfits for the extras alone, and saw three distinctive locations — Graceland, Beale Street and Las Vegas— re-created here. What an amazing achievement!
In fact, tonight’s dinner conversation may become rather creative, given we have three designers in the room—Catherine, Jon Dowding and his partner, Chrissy Feld, who is a fashion designer turned set decorator!
Speaking of locations, our State is proving itself something of a chameleon, recently doubling as the jungles of Chiang Rai Province in Ron Howard’s Thirteen Lives, and the beaches of Bali in the George Clooney/Julia Roberts film Ticket to Paradise.
In fact, whether it’s tropical, rural or urban, Queensland fits the bill!
The small screen is bringing more choice than ever before into our homes—and again, new content, particularly in the form of multi-part series—is being enthusiastically fostered and supported by Screen Queensland.
We have more free-to-air TV services than ever before, together with myriad streaming services, which provide a much-expanded platform for locally produced content.
We must thank Hoodlum Productions—represented by co-founders Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield, and Director Mairi Cameron—for helping put Brisbane on the map as a fabulous location in its own right, through their ABC TV series Harrow.
Excitingly, Brisbane author Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe is soon to be made into a Netflix series—to be filmed entirely in Brisbane; and Disney Plus is about to start filming sci-fi adventure series Nautilus on the Gold Coast; while there are many more interstate and international productions in the works. Government House itself may even feature as a location in an upcoming series—stay tuned!
And when it comes to the stage, Queensland has long, impressive credentials for creating exceptional, thought-provoking works, which showcase the astonishing abilities of our actors—who are so often able to slip between the different creative fields with assurance.
Angie Milliken has demonstrated her talents in moving from stage to screen—whether it’s being Sarah Bernhardt in Bernhardt/Hamlet or Amanda McKay in MDA, while Elise Greig has successfully moved between actor and playwright, to tell her own stories on stage.
In growing new theatrical and musical talent, we have Jacqui Somerville from the Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University who had a remarkable 25-year acting and stage career in the UK, which we now benefit from in Queensland. Jacqui and John – despite your English roots, I want to make it clear that we will now forever claim you as Queenslanders!
This flexibility allows a diverse range of voices to be heard—whether these are through mainstage or independent productions. Live performance requires enormous bravery, but also generates massive excitement—a buzz that is unique and addictive.
Of course, Boy Swallows Universe first stepped off the page and onto the stage in Queensland Theatre’s sensational production last year, which became the highest selling show in the company’s history, and brought almost 34,000 people to QPAC to see it. Congratulations to Amanda Jolly, and her incredible creative team.
Demand for live theatre experiences is continually growing and this is driving the establishment of new performance spaces—ranging from the 1,500 seat theatre at QPAC—which makes it the largest performing arts centre in our country—to the new Metro Arts Theatre at West End.
I could go on all night with examples of Queensland’s extraordinary capabilities in the stage and screen industry, but I will finish by saying that all of you here—and the fields you represent—are fundamental to our State’s future success in this sector.
We are now shining brilliantly under the world’s spotlight, and I am so excited to see where we go next!