‘Cutting edge’ film studio establishes in our region

A NEW film production company that specialises in virtual reality films has open up in Byron shire.

New Canvas is the brainchild of CEO and executive producer Nathan Anderson, an Australian with an impressive catalogue of films he’s worked on, including The Matrix.

He has 20 years experience in tech start-ups and large media companies including Disney, Foxtel, and NBC Universal, developing and delivering projects across diverse digital platforms.

He was also the co-founder of VR studio Start Beyond, which produced titles such as Awake Episode One, Wentworth VR, Atlas Obscura VR and VR Noir, in partnership with Animal Logic, Microsoft and Fremantle.

Mr Anderson said the company will mostly work on VR projects.

“New Canvas is purely focused on entertainment projects,” he said.

“We’ll be working entirely in immersive media, mostly virtual reality, but also in some augmented reality, and we are looking at how storytelling and entertainment formats will evolve and adapt for this media.

“With VR the story happens all around you, not just on a frame in front of you, so the business will be experimenting with different techniques for adapting storytelling into this media and allowing audiences to control and interact with the action.”

New Canvas is working on two new VR productions: Lustration, a collaboration with Ryan Griffen, the creator of Cleverman (ABC/Sundance), and a stage-opera-to-VR- adaptation working with theatre and TV director Leticia Caceres.

Mr Anderson said the establishment of a dedicated immersive media studio will fast-track the evolution of Australian VR content for an entertainment audience.

“Byron Bay is a fertile space for creative thinking and has a lot of great talent in all disciplines of media and technology,” he said.

“Over and above just an attractive filming location, this area has the potential to really contribute on a global scale. New Canvas aims to build on the work already underway to make this area a sustainable, vibrant and important media industry hub.”

Screenworks CEO Ken Crouch said the establishment of New Canvas in the Northern

Rivers is a win for the region.

“It’s really exciting to have this cutting-edge VR entertainment company based in Byron Bay, headed by an industry leader whose work over the last decade has been recognised internationally as best in class across VR, transmedia and multiplatform production”, he said.


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NT Government establishes Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission to help coronavirus recovery

Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the Northern Territory is “uniquely positioned” to lead Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery and has established a special commission to figure out exactly how to capitalise on the crisis.

In announcing the initial membership of the Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission on Friday, Mr Gunner said Australia was going through a “once-in-a-lifetime crisis” which could also be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for the Territory.

Mr Gunner said post-COVID-19, Australia would have to become more self-reliant and the future for manufacturing was in the North.

“We look at our solar reserves and our gas reserves and we are uniquely positioned to solve Australia’s problems — we need to take advantage of that opportunity,” he said.

‘Australia’s comeback capital’

Mr Gunner said the Commission would investigate how to create jobs in the NT, attract investment and build on its strategic advantages — establishing it as “Australia’s comeback capital”.

But it will be at least six months until any of the Commissions’ recovery plans become a reality — with an interim report expected to be handed down in late-July and a final report in November.

Commission members include Gary Higgins, who retired as opposition leader in January; Infrastructure Australia CEO Romilly Madew; NT Treaty Commissioner Mick Dodson; Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Eytan Lenko; former NT chief minister Paul Henderson; former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Martin Parkinson and former CEO of Westpac Gail Kelly.

Next week, Mr Gunner will announce two more Commission members and its co-chairs.

Each of the nine members can earn up to $44,000 a year for their contribution, which means for six months’ work each person can pocket up to $22,000 — a total cost to the taxpayer of $198,000.

A picture of Lia Finocchiaro standing outside the CLP meeting.
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said for four years under Labor, the NT economy had become “the worst performing economy in the nation”.(ABC News: Chelsea Heaney)

CLP slams NTG’s plan

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro, who took the helm at the Country Liberal Party in January, criticised Mr Gunner’s fiscal management over his Government’s term — claiming the Committee would not be necessary if the NT Government had managed the books better.

“For four years under Labor our economy has become the worst-performing economy in the nation,” she said.

“It is not credible three months out from the election for the Gunner Government to say to Territorians: ‘we have a plan’. The fact is, they don’t.”

A hand wearing gloves holds out a COVID-19 test.
In total, 30 people have tested positive to COVID-19 in the Territory.(ABC News: Rick Hind)

NT borders to stay closed

Yesterday, the NT announced it had zero active cases of coronavirus, with all 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 now recovered.

Despite the good news and calls from industry, Mr Gunner said he would not commit to a date when the NT’s borders would re-open.

“I know that the calls for us to quickly relax our hard borders will grow louder,” he said.

Mr Gunner said as soon as there was a “hard date” for when the NT’s strict border security measures would ease, he would make the announcement and ensure there was plenty of time for NT businesses to plan their recovery.

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Basketball players’ union establishes hardship fund

NBL and WNBL free agency remain postponed, leaving many players off-contract, while also being without winter basketball, with those seasons on hold or cancelled.

The NBL cancelled its seasons in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. Travel restrictions will make it hard for Australians to play in the New Zealand NBL if it manages to have a shortened season.

The WNBA season was meant to begin on May 15 but remains on hold, leaving elite Australian women facing a winter without playing.

Both the NBL and WNBL are working out the format of their respective seasons as they rely heavily on home games for revenue.

Many basketballers didn’t qualify for the government’s JobKeeper payments while most NBL free agents saw their contracts end on April 30. Previously, contracts finished on June 30 but the date moved up this season.


NBL players have agreed to pay cuts for next season, which saw five star players opt-out of their deals to head overseas, and some have questioned whether the ABPA was too quick to accept the cuts.

“It enables us to work through this year as players, clubs and the league,” Holmes said.

“It’s understandable for people to have different emotions but we were working in the best interests of the players in a collective position and this allows next season to occur and for us to continue to take that trajectory up as a sport and keep growing the league.”

South East Melbourne Phoenix returned to the court on Monday with Mitch Creek, Kyle Adnam, Dane Pineau and Adam Gibson completing individual sessions under social distancing and hygiene practices.

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