Canberra's quiet January atmosphere looks set to be spectacularly disrupted next week as the city centre plays host to a thrilling Hollywood car chase scene.
Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson, is currently shooting in Melbourne, but will shift to Canberra for four days to film a "crucial car chase sequence" on Bunda Street.
Neeson himself won't be taking part, as the sequence only involves stunt doubles.
Parts of Civic will be blocked off intermittently between January 14 and 17, as carefully mapped out action scenes are filmed.
Director Mark Williams - creator and producer of Ozark - will use "world-leading pre-visualisation technology" to transform Canberra into downtown Washington DC.
Head of Screen Canberra Monica Penders said the film was originally going to be shot entirely in Canberra, but COVID-19 intervened.
"It looked for a while like we were going to get the whole production, but getting the car chase sequence is huge," she said.
The shoot will generate jobs for up to 60 local crew and should bring more than $1.5 million into the local economy.
"We've never done anything of this size before, and it has really tested our systems in communicating with government and the public as well," she said.
"It's new for everybody, so it's good having a chunk of a major production here, rather than the whole production, as a way of training us up."
She said the capital could soon become a go-to destination for high-thrill car chase scenes.
"[Veteran stunt director] Guy Norris said, after walking around Canberra last year, that we were one of the best places in the world because we don't have to block off many streets," she said.
"He said he'd love to do one a year here."
Location manager John Greene, who has 30 years of experience scouting and organising locations for film and television in Australia, said Canberra was a hidden gem when it came to shooting Hollywood films.
"The layout of the city and some of the backdrops provide a vast array of wonderful, different-looking locations," he told The Canberra Times.
"It just feels like we can replicate those areas to look like a city somewhere in America."
He said one of the sequences being filmed involved a garbage truck and a Dodge Challenger, while another culminated in a head-on collision involving a Porsche and an underpass (he wouldn't say where).
He confirmed that a large-scale film crew descending on Canberra would be great for both the local industry and the economy.
"We're spending about $20,000 a night roughly on accommodation alone," he said.
He said there would be several vantage points around the city for curious onlookers, and maintained that daily lives would be minimally disrupted for duration of the shoot.
"All we ask is a little bit of direction in cooperation about just moving in and around the site," he said
"We've been welcomed by everybody, all levels of government and industry, people who own buildings, cafes and businesses - everyone so far has been absolutely fantastic."
While it was initially reported that the production team would be looking for extras to take part, it seems no extras will be needed as the scenes will only involve high-speed car chases.
Ms Penders said Canberra was increasingly becoming the location of choice for television and film productions, including TV series Total Control, Secret City and The Code. Most recently, horror film Sissy, has just finished filming. A number of documentaries have been filmed here, as well.
For details about road closures next week, visit cityservices.act.gov.au
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