Hollywood of the Outback: Plans to build studios in Winton
WINTON could soon boast a touch of Hollywood with the Western Queensland town bidding to become the home of Australia's only regional film studios.
Following the success of the recent Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival in Winton, Winton Shire Council has serious plans about building a film studio in the regional town.
The festival is the world's largest film festival dedicated to Australian film with this year's week-long event attracting a record number of visitors.
Movie buffs travelled far and wide from across Australia including some from across the ditch in New Zealand.
Guests scored a seat under the stars at Winton's Royal Open Air Theatre - one of the two remaining open air theatres in Australia.
Now in its fifth year, the festival saw an increase in visitors of more than 20 per cent which saw accommodation in the town sold-out.
Not only does the festival attract visitors but it cemented the Dinosaur Capital of Australia as an prominent film location.
Film-makers are lured to the region for its beautiful wide dirt landscapes that mirror locations spanning from South Africa to classic Western backdrops.
The area is the ultimate backdrop for Australia's outback with expansive flats of desert plains, rolling Mitchell Grass downs, grass savannahs, red sand dunes and mesa formations - all with big sky country.
Films such as The Proposition, Gone, Goldsmith and Ivan Sen's acclaimed Mystery Road have all been filmed here, hence adopting the name 'the Hollywood of the Outback'.
Following this success, Winton Shire Council has plans to build a film studio in Winton by next year so the town can become the film hub of regional Queensland.
Winton Shire Council Tourism and Events Manager, John Elliot, said a film studio would benefit the town immeasurably.
Plans for the film studios would include production rooms with enough space to build sets and secure yards for parking production trucks.
It would allow the town to offer a more professional space for film-makers to visit, as those that come now mostly work out of motel rooms.
Winton has been heavily involved in the film industry for the past 10 years.
The community, which boasts just shy of 1,000 people, have rallied behind the visiting film-makers.
"Just about everyone in town has been an extra in a film, drove a catering truck or sewed a costume."
"It is a very film friendly town, every film-maker that has been here has had a pleasant experience and that is because of the community, they love to have them here and they welcome them."
'The film-makers generate a massive boost to the town's economy.
In 2007, a movie was shot in the region with 500 cast and crew, who reportedly spent $12 million in three months.
Last November, a Japanese television production company shot a series on the Evolution of Mankind.
The crew spent six days in Winton and reportedly spent close to $1 million.
One of the production executives spent $2,500 alone on hats for himself and the crew.
"The motels all do well, they employ local people to help out on set, the local people feed the people every day," Mr Elliot said.
Winton Shire Council has always been proactive in attracting film-makers to the region.
It was passion of ex-mayor and long-time Councillor Graham 'Butch' Lenton, who sadly passed away last year.
Mr Elliot said building film studios in Winton was a big dream of Butch's. It is hoped construction could start by the end of the year.