Written by Shona Smith on Aug 16, 2019. Posted in Production News

AppleTV’s Shantaram to film in Victoria, Australia

Airing on Apple+, the Paramount TV and Anonymous Content production is based on the semi-autobiographical novel from Gregory David Roberts. Shantaram depicts Roberts' life after escaping from a maximum security prison in Mebourne in 1980, and fleeing to India.

shantaram-1-768x443The ten-part series, will shoot in Victoria, based at Melbourne's Dockland Studios. On location shooting will take place at Pentridge Prison, Coburg, the maximum-security prison where Roberts served time before his escape. Principal production is expected to begin in October 2019.

Australia's federal Location Incentive program will provide a USD7.4 million rebate, while Film Victoria’s Production Incentive Attraction Fund will also be supporting the production.

Commenting on the news, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Hon Paul Fletcher MP said “Shantaram is a mesmerising Australian story and this series will bring to life for a new generation, creating further jobs for our world-class screen industry”.

Around three-hundred and thirty cast and crew will be used in the production, and it is expected to attract more than AUD55 million in investment. Victorian Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said “We’re delighted that Shantaram will showcase our state and the talent of our creatives to an audience of millions around the world”.

A screen adaptation of the book has been in the works since 2004, when Warner Bros. acquired the rights with Johnny Depp set to star, with Australian director Peter Weir attached. However the project stalled a number of times until their rights lapsed in 2015. Anonymous Content and Paramount TV acquired the TV rights in January 2018. Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth) will direct four of the episodes, but as yet no cast has been announced.

International productions have been flocking to Australia. Marvel's upcoming Thor feature Love and Thunder is set to return to shoot in Australia. Having based previous title Thor: Ragnarok at Queensland's Village Roadshow Studios, the next installment will move across the country to Fox Studios, Australia in New South Wales. Meanwhile, the Queensland Studio is currently hosting pre-production on Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic. Post production house Technicolor also recently opened a new studio under the Mill banner in Adelaide, its first in the Southern Hemisphere.

Available to international productions, the Australian Location Offset and Location Incentive combine to provide a 30% rebate for shooting in Australia.

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