Technicolor to Build $20M VFX Studio in South Australia's Adelaide

THE SHAPE OF WATER Still_ - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

The studio, which will go under the name Mill Films, aims to employ 500 within five years.

French visual effects conglomerate Technicolor will establish a 500-person visual effects (VFX) center in Adelaide, South Australia, with planning under way to build a $20.4 million (AUS$26 million) 3,000-plus-square-meter studio that will go under the new banner Mill Films.

Mill Films will initially deliver visual effects for major film studios and streaming services, with planned expansion into emerging opportunities in virtual and augmented reality. It will house an Adelaide Centre of Excellence and VFX Academy, together accommodating 500 people—ranging from technologists to artists—when operating at full strength within five years. 

Adelaide is home to a growing film production sector, with post, digital and VFX house Rising Sun Pictures, one of the VFX Oscar recipients for its work on 2014’s Gravity, based in the city. The Adelaide Film Studios is currently home to Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, while the South Australian Film Corporation, established in 1972, is the local agency that’s worked on Australian classics including Breaker Morant, Storm Boy, Wolf Creek and Anzac Girls.

Mill Films will take advantage of new incentives announced by the state government in December, which see companies receiving a rebate of 10 percent of their South Australian expenditure, mirroring the Australian federal government’s PDV Offset of 30 percent and so offering a combined 40 percent rebate on spend in the state to international film producers. The rebate is un-capped, automatic and non-discretionary for productions that meet the guidelines and replaces the previous grant that was limited to $150,000 per production.

Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose said the company “picked Australia as an opportunity for expansion because it provides an ability to engage with a pool of proven creative talent, work with leading universities, and build on a modern and mature infrastructure that is critical for working on high-end VFX projects.”

“The state government’s 10 percent PDV rebate, stackable with the federal government’s 30 percent incentive, was an opportunity too good to ignore…I think it will become a global VFX destination once the secret gets out,” he added.

Technicolor employs more than 15,000 globally, with facilities in Paris, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, Vancouver, Bangalore and Shanghai. It includes brands like Mr X, which has been nominated for an Oscar for its VFX work on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Technicolor companies have also worked on The Jungle Book, The Martian, Blade Runner 2049, Wonder Woman and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. 

The South Australian government will provide up to $4.7 million from its Economic Investment Fund to support the project, which is expected to have an economic benefit of around $200 million over ten years.