CAITLIN CREEPER & LUCY RUTHERFORD
Western Australia is set to be an international centre for animation and film with the creation of a new studio in Bunbury.
Yesterday a $160 million agreement was signed between Chinese animation company Hippo International, Bunbury animation company Vue Group, the City of Bunbury and the state government.
Vue Group managing director Alan Lindsay said the studio would become the third largest independent animation film studio in the world, create feature animation films and provide university-level accreditation courses in animation.
“The last year of the course will be a paid internship where students can work on the feature film the studio is working on and get a feature film credit which is a huge asset for them,” Mr Lindsay said.
“And we’re not only looking at animation.
“The next two films will be live action with CGI, like Avatar.”
Murdoch University film graduate Peta Christey said the Perth film industry was already well-funded, but most film graduates relocated to Melbourne where they believed there was more opportunity.
She said the Vue-Hippo joint venture was “100 per cent” needed to revitalise the film industry in WA.
“It would be nice for Perth to be more recognised, especially because we have a more documentary-based film industry here and obviously not everyone wants to work on that, so [the new studio] will change the dynamics of that,” she said.
She said the fact the centre was based two hours out of Perth would not deter city graduates.
“We work crazy hours anyway, she said.
“Sometimes we’ll be waking up at 2am to go and film somewhere five hours away.
“So Bunbury is actually quite a short drive for us.
“We travel for what we do.
“We’re not locked in one spot.”
Mr Lindsay said China now had the fastest growing, most valuable movie industry in the world.
“China became the world’s largest film market in July this year.,” he said.
“The first film we did that was released in China, Perfect Friends, showed in 16,000 screenings a day.”
Hippo International wants another 800 animators over the next three years and the new studio will swap students between the two countries.
“They send their brightest students over here,” he said.
“They do a year with us.
“We send our brightest students over to China and they do a year there.
“Because if you’re going to work in this business China is bigger than America [and] bigger than [all of] Europe combined.”
Mr Lindsay said the studio would be a huge asset to the region and to WA as a whole.
“We’ll be bringing 500 to 600 new faces into Bunbury within two years,” he said.
“So that’s 500 people who’ll be living and working in Bunbury.
“That’s got to make a difference to that area.
“It’s time to not just be reliant on mining again.
“The project when we start will be about the same size as the wine industry.
“But as we grow we’ll become bigger than the wine industry.”