Screen design guild director: ‘Wolverine VFX work must stay in Australia’

The director of the Australian Production Designers Guild has called on the producers of Wolverine to keep the VFX work in Australia as speculation grows that it may go offshore.

George Liddle, also the production designer of films Dark City and Daybreakers, told Encore: “It seems outrageous to dump some of the work overseas. It goes against the spirit of the government’s policy to attract big films here.”The call comes as an announcement around Wolverine’s key VFX vendors is expected soon, and off the back of substantial financial input from the Australian Government to the film.

Wolverine received an extra $12.8m from the Federal Government to film in Australia on top of the usual 16.5% location tax offset that international productions are eligible for when shooting here. The $12.8m bumps the production to the equivalent of 30% rebate of the film’s estimated $80m Australian expenditure – The film industry is currently lobbying the government for an across-the-board 30% location offset.

While Australia also offers a 30% post production offset, films can not use both incentives from the same allocated value of the production.

Liddle said despite that fact, if the work goes abroad, it would be wrong on principal: “They might be well within their rights legally to take the post production work offshore but they are getting a shit load of money from the government. The work should stay here.”

Speculation within the industry has been growing that much of the work may go to VFX houses in New Zealand or elsewhere.

The VFX industry has been shaken recently by key player FuelVFX going into administration and Deluxe buying Omnilab’s assets; Iloura, Digital Pictures, Cornerpost, Boffswana and PAX Entertainment.

Liddle said: “The international competition is so fierce. Fuel going down is a big shock. It all boils down to the talent on offer. We have had a reputation of producing great film-making talent so we just need to be able to offer superior design talent too.”

Liddle’s comments come as his guild pushes for more members from the VFX industry. He said: ” We’re a guild that represents designers from all fields, whether on stage, film or visual effects. The number of them is not huge in the guild but it is something we’re trying to push, as reflected in our awards.”

Wolverine’s production company declined to comment.


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