EXCLUSIVE: David Lightfoot Talks About The Adelaide Studios & SA Film Industry

By Kat Nicholson.

Speaking exclusively to Glam Adelaide, South Australian filmmaker David Lightfoot has spoken out in praise of the South Australian Film Corporation and the new Adelaide Studios at Glenside.

Lightfoot, whose past producing credits include Wolf Creek, Japanese Story and Bad Boy Bubby, slammed recent “irresponsible, ill-informed” speculation in the media about the SAFC’s funding.

“Not a single studio is making a profit at the moment,” he said, dismissing media gloom about the Adelaide Studios. “Fox Studios, Melbourne Docklands, Village Roadshow Studios in Queensland, they’re all writing off millions a year.”

“The point is the studios attract movies, they bring in production.”

Lightfoot blamed the strain on the economic woes currently plaguing the global film industry. Even Hollywood is feeling the pressure, with movies being a luxury during financial downturns.

“Everything is risk-adverse at the moment. If you look at what’s coming out of America, they’re all remakes and franchises,” he said.

“South Australia is only copping a small bit of what the world’s getting.”

Despite claims the facility is floundering, Adelaide Studios is enjoying a full tenancy rate. Barely half a year after it was opened, various production houses, casting agents, producers, advertisers, writers and the like have already leased every office space in the complex. 

Lightfoot, who is currently winding up delivery on John Doe, told Glam Adelaide that better incentives are the key to winning more productions and ultimately bringing more jobs to South Australia.

Although the South Australian Government built a brand new, world-class studio complex, they also cut funding to the SA Film Corporation. The outcome is less money for investment in incentives.

“That was not a smart thing to do,” Lightfoot said.

“We need to be far more proactive. We’ve got to make it more attractive, to get stuff to Adelaide in a tough market.”

The South Australian Film Corporation was the first state film body in Australia. Established under the Dunstan government in 1972, the SAFC’s model proved such a success that the other states soon copied with their own.

“South Australia used to be a very attractive state for investors,” he said. “Now we’re fighting against better incentives.”

As an international filmmaker, Lightfoot said that international studios, investors and sales agents he spoke to overseas had little, if any, awareness of the facilities and talent available here.

“How do we export that knowledge?” he asked. “We have got to work out a way to tell the world it exists.”

Thousands of people are employed in film and television in South Australia. However, many are forced to go interstate or overseas for work, either temporarily or permanently.

“They should be working here,” Lightfoot said.

Each individual film or television series, depending on the size, creates several hundred to several thousand jobs. It is not just people in the industry who reap the benefits, as every production also needs caterers, security, administrative staff, carpenters, electricians and others.

Any film or TV production South Australia fails to secure will just go to another state, taking the employment opportunities with it.

Rather than listening to negative beat-ups, Lightfoot said South Australians had many reasons to support the film industry. He pointed to the “amazingly proud history” of the SA Film Corporation and cited the significant box office success of Wolf Creek and Red Dog as recent examples.

“We’ve got a lot of talent,” he said. “A lot of potential.”

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