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Gold Coast stars on the small screen

Kathy Kruger | March 2018

While the big Hollywood stars and major blockbusters hog the limelight in the Gold Coast’s burgeoning film industry, television productions are also putting the city on the world stage while ensuring ongoing employment for talented local crews.

For internationally renowned children’s series producer Jonathan Shiff, the Gold Coast has pretty much been home-base for 15 years, with Shiff having just wrapped up production of his latest major series shot in the city.

Beginning his love-affair with the Gold Coast while filming the global smash hit children’s action series, H2O- Just Add Water, followed by the successful spin off, Mako Mermaids, amongst a string of productions, Shiff’s latest 20-part series is the first season of the fantasy project: The Bureau of Magical Things.

With such a stellar track-record, not only does the city feel like home, the crew are treated as family, according to Shiff.

“At Jonathan M Shiff Productions our ethos is ‘family’ and over the years many of the same crew members return. When you find a team that works well together it’s important to maintain these valuable relationships in order to run a successful production company,” Shiff says.

Filming from a purpose-built warehouse studio at Arundel during the second half of 2017, the production utilised great office space, wardrobe and art department areas with room enough to build multiple sets, as well as diversity of Gold Coast locations.

“As a filming location, the Gold Coast offers an incredible palette to work with. From beautiful beaches and botanical gardens to urban streets – it has been a pleasure to work here over the years,” says Shiff.

“Our favourite location with this series was the Gold Coast Botanical Gardens, which served as a naturally beautiful backdrop for our stories.”

Future fans may also spot several Southport locations, including Talinga Crescent, Kindra Avenue, Kuranga Avenue, Akes Avenue, Chester Street and Ward Park among a smorgasbord of locations utilised.

The Bureau of Magical Things features a young cast of local actors, led by Brisbane actress Kimie Tsukakoshi (The Family Law) as Kyra, a regular teenage girl who acquires magical powers when caught in a clash between an elf and a fairy, discovering a secret world of magic all around her.

Tsukakoshi and her fellow cast and crew members can be hopeful of big things coming out of the series, as Shiff has nurtured the early careers of Hollywood big names including the Gold Coast’s own Margie Robbie, along with Liam Hemsworth.

Also achieving success off the back of Shiff’s Gold Coast-shot series, are Phoebe Tonkin (Tomorrow When The War Began, The Secret Circle, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals), Claire Halt (also of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals as well as Pretty Little Liars), and Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy, Wolf Creek, and the Netflix film Bright).

“It is fantastic to be bringing back another local high quality children’s series and it’s vital to bring Australian children their own stories at a time when Australian kids TV is so under threat,” says Shiff.

“The City of Gold Coast Film Attraction Program was hugely supportive of our production and their contribution has benefited our series immensely.”

A busy twelve months has also seen the City facilitate filming for familiar local and overseas TV productions from single-day shoots for such popular programs as The Voice and House Rules, to lengthy schedules for the UK and German versions of reality series I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, both of which had 23 days of filming, with the UK version supporting 112 cast and crew.

The Gold Coast has also earned exposure in the Japanese and Chinese markets through sports, reality and infotainment programs.

The Bureau of Magical Things will be launched this April at MIPTV in Cannes and will be available on Channel 11 later this year.

For more information about the local film industry, visit Film Gold Coast.

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