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Sydney's rise to global prominence

WESTERN Sydney will play a key role in Sydney’s rise to world-wide prominence as a major producer of Disney backed movies following the announcement of a major new film studio for Moore Park.

Thousands of university trained students from the west will apply for jobs at new Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) facility at the Fox Studios complex at the Old Sydney Showground, also owned by Disney.

More than 500 local jobs will be created when Disney-owned visual effects company sets up the new studio in Sydney, establishing NSW as a global destination for Post, Digital and Visual effects (PDV).

Added to this is the indication that ILM will eventually build a brand new studio complex somewhere in Greater Sydney area and the west, with the Aerotropolis and Airport coming on line and plenty of land available, is an obvious location they will consider.

The west’s attraction includes they key fact that there is a vast pool of trained special effects producers, actors, production crew, sound and lighting engineers and movie makers in the region, creating a perfect talent pool for ILM.

The ILM portfolio includes TV shows and traditional on location films.

Western Sydney University has been training students from the west for degrees in screen arts and production, creative arts and communications, all providing excellent opportunities for graduates.

Acclaimed films

The University has a partnership with Tropfest, the internationally acclaimed Western Sydney based film festival and has provided an excellent opportunity for students to present their short films.

Many more students make the daily trek to the Sydney University of Technology in Ultimo which has produced many acclaimed film producers including Glenn Stewart of Lidcombe who works with Rotor Films.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined Executive Creative Director and Head of ILM Rob Bredow and ILM Executive Luke Hetherington at Fox Studios to announce the project.

Ms Berejiklian said ILM’s decision to choose NSW as its Australian base was a big win for the State.

“ILM is responsible for the visual effects of more than 350 feature films, including ‘Star Wars’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘The Avengers’,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Having the world’s leading visual effects company now agreeing to set up here permanently and commit to teaching invaluable skills to hundreds of people in NSW is a big coup for our State. This is only the third studio ILM has opened outside of North America.”

Job applications are already open for Sydney staff to complete post, digital and visual effects for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”.

The online job application site offers a “Position at Industrial Light & Magic” and says: “As we grow ILM Sydney, we are seeking a variety of talent to join the team and be a part of this exciting opportunity. If you are a CG Artist or VFX

Professional who would be interested in joining ILM Sydney in the future, please submit Cover Letters, CVs, and reels for consideration.”

Mr Bredow said Sydney was an ideal location for ILM’s fifth studio.

“There is abundant artistic and technical talent in the region which are both keys to ILM’s culture of innovation. It’s particularly exciting that the first film our new studio will contribute to will be Star Wars,” Mr Bredow said.

New incentive

The announcement follows the NSW Government’s recent move to offer a 10% tax incentive for PDV firms investing more than $500,000 in NSW. This is on top of Federal incentives, making NSW an even more attractive location for film production.

The new incentive brings NSW in line with global locations such as the US, UK and Canada, in addition to competing States.

The NSW Government will also provide a $6M contribution which will be matched by ILM to establish training programs to build specialised PDV skills for local workers.

Minister for Jobs and Investment Stuart Ayres said PDV was a $15B global industry and one that offers highly skilled jobs for NSW.

We have a shortage of skilled PDV workers in NSW and today’s announcement will help us attract crew who have relocated, as well as drive new teams that will go through ILM’s exciting JEDI Academy program amongst other learning opportunities,” Mr Ayres said.

ILM’s setup in Sydney will deliver an estimated $333M in post-production business in the first five years and an expected $100M each year after.

The tax subsidy was introduced by the Berejiklian government as a last minute push to cement ILM’s move and can be accessed by filmmakers who commit to spending $500,000 or more on PDV in NSW. It matches incentives offered in South Australia and Queensland.

Star Wars

ILM was founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas in 1975 and has gone on to become the world’s most celebrated visual effects company. As well as the “Star Wars”, “”Star Trek” and “Marvel” series, ILM has  worked on dozens of big budget movies including “Raiders of the Lost Ark”,”ET”,” Back to the Future”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Total Recall”, “Ghost”, “Terminator 2”, “Schindler’s List”, “Jumanji”, “Titanic” and “Jurassic World”.

“Already nearly 60% of the country’s screen practitioners and more than half of the country’s production and post-production businesses call NSW home. We’re committed to keeping up our competitive edge to secure major investment that will continue to drive the creation of these highly-technical jobs across our local creative industries,” Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said.

ILM was acquired by Disney in 2012 as part of the purchase of Lucasfilm

The NSW PDV rebate, initiated by Mr Ayres, was the clincher for ILM’s choice of the Fox Studios.

Aussie Luke Hetherington, the executive in charge of ILM’s Singapore studio, will be responsible for the Sydney facility, which is expected to have 50-100 employees by year’s end, and continue to expand in 2020.

Mr Hetherington, who will split his time between Sydney and Singapore, spent 17 years at Sydney studio Animal Logic, where he served as head of film VFX, executive producer, head of production and head of CG.

ILM has won 15 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and received 31 Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievement.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.