Lights, camera, Victoria!

Move over Hollywood. Victoria is fast becoming the next big blockbuster destination and the special events team at the Department of Transport is making it happen.

The rise of streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV has been the catalyst for a filming boom, and the Victorian Government is capitalising on this opportunity through Film Victoria.

Significant government investments have made Victoria the place to be when it comes to all things film, and production companies are arriving in droves to get in on the action.

Film Victoria has a portfolio of locations across our city and regional Victoria that could replicate famous destinations around the world. Need Melbourne to look like New York or a French village? No problem. Want a scene to feel like it’s been shot in Mumbai? We’ve got you.

But what happens when a production company wants to use our roads? That’s where the Department of Transport’s special events team takes charge. 

From Run for the Kids, to the Grand Prix, to ANZAC Day, this team of seven looks after over 1000 events a year, including a growing number of film and television productions.

Provisions in the Road Safety Act 1986 allow for a road to be used for non-road activities, such as a street party, parade, bike race or film set. Our special events team ensures the roads are used safely and legally, particularly when a producer is trying to recreate a motorcycle crash or a car flip.  

The team also works with public transport operators to maintain or mitigate impacts to services like buses and trams, as well as collaborating with stakeholders like local councils, Victoria Police, Visit Victoria, and Sports and Recreation Victoria to capitalise on the value that these major events bring to our communities and the Victorian economy.

Department of Transport Coordinator of Special Events Sharon Gatt said her team often has to think outside the box to achieve a result worthy of the silver screen.

“Recently, while filming the OnePlus x Hasselblad Lunarland phone ad, we were asked if we could turn off some lights in a pedestrian underpass,” Sharon said. 

“These kinds of requests catch us off guard and mean a little more collaboration and thought are required to make everything fall into place.

“But part of our job is to work with Film Victoria to cut through the red tape and get the right permits and exemptions for using our roads.

“Sometimes we need to divert traffic to the opposite side of the road to replicate a Californian street scene or issue the right exemption or permit for non-conforming vehicles, like a mock police car, historical vehicle or a vehicle carrying a huge camera boom to record a high-speed chase.

“We try to keep roads open and film during periods of lower traffic volumes. Sometimes we need to divert traffic, at other times we facilitate rolling road closures where the police impressively escort and manage the safety of the production as they zoom down our freeways. 

“Victorian roads also feature in a multitude of local and international car commercials. We recently had Lexus, BMW and Fuso all film in and around Melbourne,” she added.

Although we only play a supporting role, the Department of Transport is vital to the Victorian screen industry and to Film Victoria’s ability to promote our state as a film-friendly destination.

Do you recognise any of the locations around Melbourne in the advertisement below?