Producer Tony Buckley has challenged the Government to verify the economic benefits it claims will be generated by the Walt Disney Co. shooting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo in Australia.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Tony Burke said the production would create up to 2,000 jobs and utilise goods and services from nearly 1,000 local businesses when they announced a $21.6 million incentive to Disney in April.
Buckley, who has produced more than 30 films, telemovies, miniseries and documentaries in a career spanning 50 years, describes those claims as “absolute arrant nonsense.”
He said the biggest offshore production in Australia, Steven Spielberg’s HBO miniseries The Pacific, employed approximately 480 contractors and freelance workers. He estimates that no more than 40 or 50 businesses, including post production houses, benefit from any single production.
"I believe the figures just don’t add up and this places a question mark over the validity of the information being circulated,” said Buckley, whose credits include Caddie, The Irishman, Bliss, Oyster Farmer and TV‘s Heroes Mountain, Jessica, Harp in the South and The Potato Factory.
The producer conveyed his concerns in a letter to Minister Burke. He got a reply from an Arts Department official which he describes as “patronising and ludicrous.”
Buckley plans to ask Screen Australia to commission one of the completion bond companies to conduct an audit of offshore productions to determine exactly how much money each spends in the country and how many people and companies benefit from that.
The 20,000 Leagues remake was due to shoot this year, probably at Fox Studios and the Village Roadshow Studios utilising that facility’s water tank, but has been postponed until 2014 due to casting issues.