Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Filmmaking In The Whitsundays

While on set at Sinclair Bay, filming sea planes gliding across crystal clear, deep blue water, film producer Steve Jaggi took a break from shooting his latest production Love is in the Air to have a chat with Whitsunday Life about making movies in the Whitsundays.

How did Love is in the Air come into being and what was your role in that?

It’s a concept that we came up with a few years ago and we knew it’d be something really special. We worked with a series of writers on developing and brought on board Adrian Powers who’s the director, who we’ve worked with a few times before, a fantastic director. We’ve shot a lot of content in north Queensland before, but we’ve never had the opportunity to shoot in the Whitsundays. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, I just find it so spectacularly beautiful up here. What’s unique with this film, compared to some of our other recent films, is this film is really targeted 100% at a domestic audience; set in Australia, for Australians, with an Australian cast.

What I find interesting as somebody who isn’t from Australia originally, in my travels over the last couple of years, particularly down south, is how few Australians have been to the Whitsundays which I find astounding because it is really one of the best places in the world so I thought it’d be really great to set an Australian film in the Whitsundays and show Australians how amazing and unique it is here. Not just the reef but the islands themselves, the topography of the islands, the people who live on the islands, how you get between the islands. The ecosystem up here is really appealing for a story and a great place to set an adventure rom com.

What is it about the north Queensland that keeps you coming back?

It’s the aspirational nature of being up here. For me, with my creative hat on, I know my specialty is making aspirational stories, making films and TV shows that people watch, and it transports them to somewhere they’d rather be, somewhere they can aspire to be. There are very few places on earth that are more aspirational than north Queensland.

What’s your opinion on the state of the film industry in Queensland?

I think it’s very healthy … Entertainment is a big part of the Queensland economy and it’s growing, with more and more streaming services and more access to content and because of the number of streaming services, the demand for content keeps rising.  The standard of living is rising, and more and more people are getting access to content, and they want to see new stuff, they want to see stuff that’s made in Australia.

We’ve had a lot of action in the Whitsundays lately, do you think we’ll see a peak in films being shot here?

I think it’s a steady incline. Now the pressure is on both the federal and state government to keep that there. I think the state government does such a spectacular job of incubating both foreign companies to come here but also helping domestic companies like ours to make content which is phenomenal. Now we just need to make sure the federal government continues to see value in entertainment rather than mining.

Are you taking any time off to see the sights?

It’s obviously tough being the producer and being on 24/7. Right now, in Sinclair Bay, it’s pretty bloody amazing. Some people would say that every day is a holiday for me – I would counter that and say it’s a very stressful time even though I’m spending my time in some beautiful locations … Once we wrap the film, I’ll stay up here another week and spend some time getting around the islands and checking things out.

Your IMBD paints you to be a very busy man, what’s next for you?

We are really busy, and I think that’s indicative of the film business. I can tell you that our production slate for the next three years is fully financed. We’re doing four more films this year and I think a lot of Australian companies are like that. If you went back before Covid, no company knew what they were doing six months into the future let along two years, so I think Covid has really changed the fortunes of domestic production companies.

Interview by Sam Gillespie.

Steve Jaggi owns Jaggi Entertainment, a Logie and AACTA-nominated company responsible for producing Love is in the Air

L-R Roy Billing, Steph Tisdell, Director Adrian Powers, Delta Goodrem and Joshua Sasse on the set of Love Is In The Air. Image supplied.

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