Sunny Coast Showdown: Action Stations!

Image source: Contributed

As production wraps up on seven locally-produced films and documentaries for Sunny Coast Showdown, founder Jon Coghill revisits what it’s all about and what it means for the future of film in the region.

Little did I know when co-founding the Sunny Coast Showdown presented by Bendigo Bank Community Bank (Marcoola, Cooroy, Tewatin-Noosa)* with Dan Munday and the Sunshine Coast Screen Collective in 2021, that it would take a village to raise this child. It’s been a pleasant child at times, a confusing one at others, and a downright contemptuous one at its worst.

However, this child, despite being only three-and-a-half-years old, has grown into a fairly responsible teenager in 2024. Especially under the watchful eyes of our amazing production team – Janneke Williamson, Louise Hayse, Eve Donohue, Dan Munday, Martin Doyle and Liz Boyd.

The village is healthy too, and is made up of the blossoming community of screen workers on the Coast, some of who I’ll mention below. That community has gone from a handful to a horde of hardworking and creative souls that we’ve grown to love.

We’ve met and worked with local producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, assistant directors, art departmentalists, make-up artists, camera assistants, composers, editors, sound designers… and the list goes on.

And yes, it takes scores of departments to shoot a film (but it makes for a very long sentence, which hurts my fingers). One of our projects, The Hoist, a short film by Coolum’s Emma Morgan and shot at Belli Community Hall in May, had more than 120 people on set.

In fact, more than 250 people in total have been involved in the production of seven Showdown short films and documentaries that will premiere as part of the Showdown Showfest – a two-day festival from 21-22 June that kicks off with the Pacific Islands Filmfest and culminates with the screening of the seven projects and judging of awards, including the Best in Show Gold Yewwy!

There is a huge amount of aspiring screen professionals, up-and-comers, and volunteers who want to make films here rather than have to travel elsewhere. Our productions have been a testament to the enthusiasm and commitment that making local films can inspire.

Bendigo Bank Community Bank is backing us for that very reason – they want to see a sustainable industry here. Screen Queensland has also provided enough funds this year to specifically mentor nine people with our very own Screen Queensland Crew Accelerator.

For the accelerator, we identified a bunch of inspiring, aspiring, cool and good-looking people for targeted training from established pros, so they can lead a future Sunshine Coast film industry. Remember these names: Liz Boyd, Louise Hayse, Martin Doyle, Charis Gibson, Hing Ang, Esther de Shone, Elsie Bowditch, Beverley Marcusson, and Lincoln Knight – because they’re going stratospheric in the near future.

Of that group, Indigenous writer/director Beverley Marcusson is remarkable. We met Beverley at our Showdown First Nations Workshop where she told us she’d never written a script. She’s gone on to write, direct and star in her own short film, Smiley, a story about a shy school cleaner’s encounter with the spirit of her long-time partner.

So let me finish with a reminder: Our raison d’être (the fancy version of why our production team suffers insomnia for six months) is to build the capacity to make quality film and TV in the region. I believe we’re some of the way there, but there’s a fair way to go.

The next stage could be even harder: proving that we can make long form projects that the film and TV market out there wants to buy. We’ve found the crews and casts that will make these shows but we’ll need some smart business brains too, some executive producers who can see our potential and can make it happen.

We’ll also need some very cool projects the rest of the world wants to see and a community of film lovers and/or INVESTORS (did I say that loud enough?), that can help us make it happen. If we all buck in, then maybe it will.

*The Showdown is a screen incubator (not for chicken eggs) that’s helping to build a sustainable film industry on the Sunshine Coast.


Friday 21 June, 12 noon
Enjoy an afternoon IN Conversation with Showdown Founders and Filmmakers over three courses with welcome drink at Bella Venezia, Mooloolaba.
Tickets: $125 pp.

The Station, Birtinya

Day 1: Pacific Island Filmfest
Friday 21 June, 6-10pm
Music, film and fun! Award – winning short films from our neighbours in the Pacific.
Dress code: Island style.
Tickets: from $35 general admission.

Day 2: Showdown Showcase
Saturday 22 June, 6-10pm
A red carpet celebration of awards and fun! Premiering six locally-made award-winning films by the Sunny Coast Showdown + Chris Sun’s ‘Loophole.’
Dress Code: Sunshine Coast formal.
Tickets: from $45 general admission

Early Bird, VIP and family packages available!


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