News 02.03.22

MADE IN AUSTRALIA: JOE VS CAROLE

The story of Joe Exotic is one most of us are familiar with, yet we’ve never seen it like this before! The Peacock, NBCU and Matchbox Pictures production has breathed new life into the wild story of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic.

Kate McKinnon shines in the role of Carole Baskin, accompanied by John Cameron Mitchell in the role of Joe Exotic. Meanwhile, the exotic animals have been exceptionally portrayed in full digital and photo-realistic CGI by MPC’s VFX team, a positive solution to conveying the representation of animals in a manner that is entirely cruelty-free.

Leveraging its local expertise and infrastructure, Matchbox Pictures led and oversaw this project on the ground, partnering with Universal Content Production. Kate McKinnon stars and Executive Produces JOE VS CAROLE with Etan Frankel serving as Executive Producer and Showrunner.

JOE VS CAROLE was supported with assistance from the Australian Government through the Location Offset and Incentive program, the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland and the South Australian Government.

Ausfilm congratulates UCP, all the cast, crew and Matchbox Pictures on the release of this wildly entertaining series!

There are two sides to every story and Ausfilm is thrilled to share the work by our members, who helped to bring the story of JOE VS CAROLE to the screen.

SCREEN QUEENSLAND

Screen Queensland was able to help attract this production to Queensland through the Queensland Government’s Production Attraction Strategy.   

With Queensland doubling as locations in the US, the JOE VS CAROLE series was able to employ approximately 300 Queensland cast and crew, and boost the local economy by an estimated AU$31.7 million.

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said there were several reasons why the production chose Queensland, including a range of diverse locations and a top facility in Screen Queensland Studios: Brisbane. 

“While Oklahoma and Florida are some 2,000 km apart, here in Queensland the Gold Coast’s Main Beach was a stand-in for Florida’s Tampa and Alexandra Hills for Oklahoma’s infamous GW Zoo, and both are a comparatively short 70 km apart,”

“We had to replicate Oklahoma and Tampa Bay, Oklahoma is a hot, dusty area and we found that in the Beaudesert landscape (in Queensland). Tampa Bay is sort of wet, humid tropical, and that’s what Southeast Queensland is. So we were afforded the best possible location that we could have imagined because it had both sets of criteria right here.”

Dan Kaplow, Co-Executive Producer on JOE VS CAROLE
Pictured: (l-r) John Cameron Mitchell, William Fichtner, Brian Van Holt -- (Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock)
L – R: John Cameron Mitchell, William Fichtner, Brian Van Holt. Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock. © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Director and Queensland native, Natalie Bailey, stated that after 25 years working on successful international projects, she is proud to come full circle and see the Aussie film industry in such a powerful stride. Amongst the topics of praise for Bailey, were Australia’s production capacity and crews, paired with the lifestyle advantages.

“Everyone in every department worked so hard and delivered such beautiful work! The standard is high here, I think it may be because people have a happy lifestyle, therefore, they’re satisfied.”

Natalie Bailey, Director on JOE VS CAROLE

SCREEN QUEENSLAND STUDIOS: BRISBANE

A range of Queensland locations in the wider Brisbane area were used to stand in for US states: Oklahoma, Tampa and Iowa. The series occupied Screen Queensland Studios: Brisbane and made full use of the facilities, which span a total lettable area of 16,000 square metres (170,000 sq ft). The space includes two sound stages, two warehouses, production offices, green rooms. The lot is located just 15 minutes from downtown Brisbane and 12 minutes from Brisbane International Airport (BNE) or 30 minutes drive from diverse locations like beaches, bays, rivers, mountains, rainforests and urban city settings. 

Photo by Dylan Evans, Courtesy of Screen Queensland.

Series Director Natalie Bailey praises her hometown after spending her career working on productions abroad. With genuine affection, Bailey expresses her amazement with the production capacity which has developed in Queensland during her prolonged time overseas.

The crews here are so lovely and hard working and experienced. There has been a big industry that’s grown here in the last 20-30 years. And creatively, they’re going to give you everything you want and more. It’s a great place to work, because of that.

Natalie Bailey, Director JOE VS CAROLE

AJURIA LAWYERS

Ajuria Lawyers facilitated the immigration process throughout the production, providing legal advice and assistance. They assisted with the 408 visa applications, union consultation and travel exemptions with the Australian Border Force (ABF). A team of two lawyers and two support staff worked on the project. Throughout the regularly changing quarantine requirements, Ajuria Lawyers was able to ease the process involved for travel exemption requirements, at both a Federal and State level.

Ajuria Lawyers worked closely with the ABF and built a solid relationship to ensure that the travel exemptions were processed in a timely manner. This involved assisting with letters of support from Screen Queensland, required (at the time) by the ABF, that the cast and crew were coming in above the border caps established by the Australian Government for international travellers.

Contact Ajuria Lawyers.

Pictured: (l-r) Kate McKinnon, Kyle MacLachlan -- (Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock)
L-R: Kate McKinnon, Kyle MacLachlan. Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

CUTTING EDGE

Cutting Edge worked daily on the production of JOE VS CAROLE, from preliminary work, through to final delivery, operating out of both their Sydney and Brisbane-based studios in order to maintain a steady pace with full international production capabilities. 

With 16 highly talented professionals working across Cutting Edge’s creative, production and technical teams, they were able to provide digital dailies, onsite and remote editorial and full picture finishing; including conform, grade, online and deliverables.

JOE VS CAROLE Post-Production Producer, Stephen Welke mentioned that despite the challenges of a short and extremely aggressive post-production schedule, the Cutting Edge team maintained their capacity to surpass expectations. “The Peacock original production of JOE VS CAROLE was shot entirely in Queensland, and Cutting Edge came aboard as our post facility for dailies and finishing. In addition, Cutting Edge created workflows that allowed us to use editors in the United States working remotely to systems in Brisbane.” 

 “Cutting Edge adapted to every schedule change, every ask, every requirement, and the personnel we had working on the project stepped up and always gave their best to ensure that we made our final delivery deadline. I can’t say enough about the people working at Cutting Edge. The professionalism and dedication that they showed in getting JOE VS CAROLE to the finish line.”

Stephen Welke, Post-Production Producer, JOE VS CAROLE

Dwaine Hyde, Senior Colourist at Cutting Edge, reflects appreciatively on the collaborative nature of the production and praises the Cutting Edge team for the results they were able to achieve saying “Working on JOE VS CAROLE was a unique and remarkable experience. It was great to reconnect with old friend cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin on this project.”

“A huge credit goes out to the entire Cutting Edge team, who went above and beyond on its delivery to ensure JOE VS CAROLE was the creatively driven show it was designed to be.” 

“Jules gave me some beautiful images to work with and some outstanding creative ideas for each look, time and place the characters travel through.”

Dwaine Hyde, Cutting Edge Senior Colourist

Cutting Edge’s Head of Features and Television, Marcus Bolton reveals the team has been continuing to level up as an unexpected result of the global restrictions caused by the pandemic. Cutting Edge’s response has been one of innovative thinking and adaptability to enable collaboration and steady workflow to remain uncompromised during recent times of duress.

Bolton states, “We are always immensely proud when we can internationally deliver a complex and creatively challenging series such as JOE VS CAROLE.  The team have been great at enabling seamless integration between dailies in the studio, editorial teams in Brisbane, Los Angeles and remote locations during the entirety of this production.”

“As Australia’s largest post-production studio, Cutting Edge was built for this moment to ensure we supported the process. We delivered in a compressed schedule-timeline and could pivot to any challenge.”

Marcus Bolton, Head of Features & Television, Cutting Edge

A mix of on-set and post-production workflow solutions have been established by the Cutting Edge team to enable a smooth integration between software and hardware while increasing the capacity for file exchange and collaboration across countries on a global production scale.

L-R: Kate McKinnon & John Cameron Mitchell. Photo by: Mark Taylor. ™ © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.
L-R: Kate McKinnon & John Cameron Mitchell. Photo by: Mark Taylor. © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Bolton continues, “COVID-19 brought us one advantage, the remote reviews were more a mainstay of our workflow and worked seamlessly to ensure the showrunners in the US had the comfort of feeling like being in the room with our world-class creatives!”

Hyde adds, “We implemented Sohonets ClearView Flex as a live interactive tool for both colour and VFX approvals between Brisbane, Sydney and LA, it worked out to be an invaluable tool for our process.”

“A challenging aspect to this project were the innumerable VFX elements that were dropped into each episode of JOE VS CAROLE and the intricacies of tying this all together. Watching back over this now is very rewarding!!”

Dwaine Hyde

Bolton and Hyde confirm that the team’s capability to adapt, paired with their hard-working, can-do ethos has been the elements responsible for the continued successful outcome achieved by the Cutting Edge team.

Check out Cutting Edge’s work.

FOX LIGHTING

Fox Lighting provided the illuminating equipment for JOE VS CAROLE including 12k Dinettes, 20k Fresnels, 12k T12 Fresnels, 5k Fresnels, RDM Iso Opto, DMX Cable, 2.4K dimmer/switches, textiles, power distribution systems and cabling, rigging, crank stands, and cable ramps.

Contact the Fox Lighting team.

John Cameron Mitchell. Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock) ™ © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

HELIGUY

Heliguy shot a selection of aerial cinematography requirements for the series. With Jeff Gaunt as the lead drone operator in Queensland, and Elliott Deem camera-operating on the drone, the Heliguy team captured beach sequences and a birds-eye perspective looking down from a helicopter.

The Heliguy team stated that the wild and fascinating origins of the story made for a fun and interesting atmosphere on set, and they were excited to be a part of the production.

See what else Heliguy are working on.

MPC

MPC’S PHOTOREAL CG TIGERS AND EXOTIC CREATURES

Before & After CGI tiger built by MPC. Image courtesy of MPC.

As the lead vendor of VFX on JOE VS CAROLE, MPC were tasked to create the CG tigers and all exotic animals featured on the series. MPC engaged 50 Adelaide-based team members and 200 global CG artists.

DFX Supervisor Paul Nelson and VFX Producer Natalie Dury led the MPC Adelaide team on over 140 VFX shots for JOE VS CAROLE, the infamous big cat breeder who was put on trial and sentenced to 22 years in prison for plotting to murder another big cat enthusiast.

Cruelty-free production: Before & After of CGI animal created by MPC. Image courtesy of MPC.

The focus for MPC was on creating photorealistic tigers that seamlessly interacted with the actors on the show, ensuring a sense of realism in the CG animation was key. Several scenes also required close-up contact between the actor’s hands and the computer-generated tiger fur – so the team paid careful attention to natural fur sims in order to maintain a sense of realism. 

A positive by-product of using CGI to construct the animals has been the receipt of a PETA award for the production’s cruelty-free solution of building big cats digitally rather than exploiting live animals.

One of the biggest shots and most exciting challenges revolved around Joe’s Zoo, and in particular an area called Tiger Alley. As the camera pans to reveal the enclosure, the team needed to add eight photoreal variations of tigers into the scene, all in different cages. 

Before & After of CGI tigers created by MPC. Courtesy of MPC.

Another similarly challenging shot required a CG tiger running alongside Carole as she cycles through her big cat sanctuary. The timing of the animated tiger within the scene and ensuring the fur and muscle system behaved in a natural, realistic way – (across a full 400 frames of animation) was crucial.

In total, 15 variations of tigers were created for the show – each requiring individual animation and fur simulations. The team also created a host of other CG animals located on Joe and Carole’s respective Zoo / Sanctuaries including sheep, camels, and a very distinctive looking monkey. 

Check out more of MPC’s work.

Cruelty-free production: Before/After CGI camel by MPC. Courtesy of MPC.

TAG

Navigating travel logistics for productions can be challenging enough, but when you add in a global pandemic – things get even more complex. Melissa Rennett, TAG’s senior entertainment specialist led the logistics of the JOE VS CAROLE production. Rennett explains how the TAG team mitigated the effects of COVID-19 while taking advantage of the incredible benefits of filming in Australia.  

“2021 was the toughest year in travel in over 35 years. It was wonderful to see the extent of what our team are capable of! The capacity to think on their toes, be flexible and stay positive despite challenges has been amazing to witness. The last few years have made us stronger as a team.”

Melissa Rennett, Senior Entertainment Specialist, TAG

TAG made sure that all-important travel logistics were covered, even while public safety rules and regulations were changing often, sometimes daily. In addition to being travel experts, TAG’s Australian team quickly expanded their skills and transformed into Infectious Disease Experts, Immigration Lawyers, Airline Liaison Officers – and some might say Cirque du Soleil performers!  

From managing cast and crew flights, VIP accommodation and ground transportation, to providing pandemic-related concierge services, Melissa and the TAG team were there every step of the way. 

Meticulously adhering to Australia’s COVID-19 guidelines and working closely to negotiate with government health officials – TAG’s team of specialists were able to arrange flights, transfers and accommodation.

Pictured: (l-r) Sam Keeley, John Cameron Mitchell, Nat Wolff. Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock
L-R: Sam Keeley, John Cameron Mitchell, Nat Wolff. Photo by: Mark Taylor/Peacock © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

In one instance, collaboration and close communication was made with Delta Air Lines, the New South Wales Government, and local police to ensure on-time arrivals and positive space for all crew. It was truly a team effort and re-emphasises the importance of managing entertainment production travel through an experienced team of travel management professionals. 

Whether you are an independent studio or a production company, consider filming your next production in Australia! TAG’s award-winning team of entertainment travel professionals will be there for you 24/7, 365.  

Contact the TAG team.

SOUNDFIRM

Soundfirm provided ADR recording on four sessions for the Melbourne cast at their Melbourne facility.

Kate McKinnon. Photo by: Mark Taylor. © 2021 Peacock TV LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Check out Soundfirm’s work.

AUSTRALIA’S SCREEN PRODUCTION INCENTIVES

JOE VS CAROLE was supported with assistance from the Australian Government, through its highly successful AU$540 million Location Incentive program through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. 

The Queensland Government also supported the production via Screen Queensland‘s Production Attraction Incentives.

The South Australian Government also supported the production via its Post, Digital & VFX (PDV) rebate.

For more information about Australia’s screen production incentives read Ausfilm’s Incentives Factsheet, or if you require support in navigating Australia’s screen incentives email Ausfilm’s Los Angeles-based, EVP of International Production, contact Erin Stam.

THANKS TO

NBCUNIVERSAL & UNIVERSAL CONTENT PRODUCTION (UCP)

Logo lockup Joe vs Carole