GaWC Research Bulletin 202

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This Research Bulletin has been published in Global Networks, 8 (4), (2008), 474-495.


Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.


Moving Images: World Cities, Connections and Projects in Sydney’s TV Production Industry

O. Mould*



World city research concerned with connectivity has tended to focus on advanced producer service firms and on selected North American and European cities; the prevailing methodology has been quantitative. This paper answers the call to ‘going beyond counting' by bringing together a project-based enquiry – on a TV mini-series Mary Bryant – with more a more conventional assessment of network connectivity. The inclusion of a practice-centred approach to this case study adds the performative data to the network, highlighting the actions and processes of those involved in maintaining the city networks. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates how this method of analysis is more suited to the study of project-based cultural industries and highlights the role of Sydney in the global television industry – a city hitherto under-explored in world city literature.

Key words: World city network, Sydney, Television production industry, Projects, Mary Bryant


In the global and world city literature that concerns itself with networks and inter-city connectivity, Sydney has been classified as a beta world city (Beaverstock et al. 1999; Krätke 2003; Taylor 2004). Perhaps due to this status, Sydney along with Madrid, Toronto, São Paulo, Seoul, Zurich, Brussels, San Francisco, Moscow and Mexico City (the other beta world cities identified in these studies) has been under-researched in recent years (compared to the alpha cities of London, New York, Tokyo, Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Singapore and Paris). In addition, when reviewing the data on world cities, it becomes apparent that there is a particular concentration on advanced producer service firms (APS) such as accountancy, baking and finance, advertising and law (Beaverstock et al. 1999; Sassen 2001; Taylor et al. 2002). With the help of the Globalisation and World City group (GaWC) based at Loughborough University, this particular contextualization of world city connectivity has become somewhat synonymous in the research of world city networks. There have been other empirical ‘themes' such as air passenger numbers (Derudder and Witlox 2005), bibliographic co-authoring data (Matthiessen et al. 2006) and telecommunications (Choi et al. 2006; Rutherford 2004, 2005), yet with the exception of Krätke (2003) who used large multinational media conglomerates, there has been a dearth of world city connectivity data on the cultural industries.

In this paper, the connections between Sydney and other cities around the world via a cultural industry, namely the television production industry (TVP), will be analysed using data collected from statistical surveys, phone-based questionnaires and interviews conducted in Sydney during the period October 2004 to July 2005. The importance of the cultural industries globally has been widely recognized (Cunningham 2001; Florida 2002), and while many of the world's largest cultural industry firms (in terms of financial capital) reside in New York, Los Angeles or London (Scott 2005), Sydney is experiencing an increase in its cultural industry activity (Connell 2000; Searle 1996). The importance of Sydney's film and television industry to the national economy is well documented; Sydney is the hub of Australian production as it houses all the major national governing institutions: the Australian Film Commission (AFC), the Film and Finance Corporation (FFC) and the National Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) (AFC 2004). The presence of Fox Studios, a major film studio complex opened in May 1998, has meant that many Hollywood feature films and large-budget television programmes have used Sydney as a location for shooting – recent titles include The Matrix Trilogies, Star Wars Episodes II and III and Superman Returns (Mould 2007). However, the contribution of Sydney to the international television production industry is less well documented.

The importance of the cultural industries to world city networks is illustrated in this paper by examining Sydney's role in the wider international networks of television production. Moreover, while the empirical section of the paper sets out a quantitative relational data set (akin to Krätke 2003 and Taylor 2004), the main argument will focus on how using a cultural industry to analyse world city connectivity can enable the capture of more relational data (Smith 2003a) which in turn accounts for the practices of those involved in creating the city networks (Amin and Thrift 2002; Jones 2008). The role of Sydney's TVP in the world city network involves a myriad of actors intermediaries and mediators, that act and practice – thereby creating the spacing (and timing) of the connections Sydney has with other cities. This requires data that go beyond the location of office subsidiaries (Beaverstock et al. 1999, 2000; Krätke 2003), to account for more collaborative efforts between firms in Sydney and different cities.

The argument in this paper proceeds through three sections. The first highlights the bias of the world city literature to APS firms in connectivity data and the relative dearth of cultural industry relational connectivity data. The second section addresses this imbalance and provides an initial glimpse into the connectivity of Sydney's TVP networks using quantitative methods. The next section will examine a particular case study of a Sydney-London television co-production, that of Mary Bryant, in order to add more qualitative relational data on collaborative practices between Sydney and London, the most connected cities to emerge from the quantitative data set. Project-based enquiry is gaining popularity in the social sciences (Lash and Lury 2007), and is recognized as being the norm in international media production (Christopherson 2004). Also, with Grabher's (2004a, 2004b) conceptualization of ‘project ecologies' and Ekinsmyth (2002) conceptualizing ‘projectized' sectors of the knowledge economy, project-led study is recognized as a coherent method of industrial organization. Therefore, this paper will provide a comprehensive data set on Sydney's world city connectivity by not only quantitatively outlining its inter-city connections, but also qualitatively describing both its inter- and intra-city connections. The conclusion outlines how more descriptive data can be obtained through world city connectivity analysis, thereby further enriching our knowledge of the world city network.

Focusing on the Cultural Industries

Throughout the twentieth century – from Patrick Geddes in 1915 who first coined the term ‘world city', through Peter Hall's World cities book in 1966 to Friedmann (1986, 1995) and Sassen (1991, 1998) – there has always been a natural inclination to formulate a hierarchy of world cities. Even the title of Saskia Sassen's book The global city: New York, London, Tokyo (Sassen 1991) conveys sense of a triumvirate hierarchy of the three named ‘global cities'. After this period, world city theorization was reliant on a predominantly economically centred view of the city, with Sassen (1998: 62) suggesting that ‘we need to examine the transformations in the world economy” if we are to understand the unparalleled shifts in the day to day functioning of city life'. She goes on to argue that cities are ‘centres for the servicing and financing1 of international trade and headquarter operations' (2001: 73, original emphasis). As globalization and the internationalization of MNCs and TNCs continues, then so too does the need to control this growth and the networks forged by this growth.2

With the more recent GaWC work on world city connectivity, the knowledge of how APS firms contribute to the networks of cities has progressed (Beaverstock et al. 1999; Taylor 2004), with the now familiar methodology of using office locations as matrices for world city connectivity. This marked a shift in the epistemology of world city networks from conceptualizing cities as nodes in a network (Castells 1996), to thinking as cities as a continuation of each other (Smith 2003a). A direct critique of Castells' conceptualization of a ‘meta-narrative of flows' is offered by Doel and Hubbard (2002: 355):

Castells takes informational capitalism as a given, rather than as an ongoing achievement; as axiomatic, rather than performative. We suggest instead that if there is to be a structure, it needs to be considered as an immanent and aleatory effect of contingent encounters. Insofar as it exists, global capitalism is created, sustained and attended to—not least by the ‘capitalocentric' business discourses that propose the existence of a coherent global economy.

The ‘performative' nature of world city networks is in opposition to previous conceptualizations of world cities offered by Castells, Sassen and other political economists. To understand the relationship between cities more comprehensively, it was argued that an empirical agenda was needed that matched this differing theoretical stance (Amin and Thrift 2002; Dicken et al. 2001; Doel and Hubbard 2002; Smith 2003a, 2003b, 2006, 2007). Air traffic (Derudder and Witlox 2005; Smith and Timberlake 2001), co-authorship data (Matthiessen et al. 2006) and telecommunications (Choi et al. 2006; Rutherford 2004, 2005) have offered further insight in addition to APS firms, yet the cultural industries remain largely absent from the world city network data. Smith (2003b: 39) argues that we need to analytically develop ‘how the mobilisation of materials, and practices of people, stitch-together the networks between cities'; the tapestry of world city life that is ‘stitched-together' is a factor of cultural industry practices just as much as any of the other thematics of connectivity that have been studied thus far.

The reasons for the relative paucity of cultural industry data in world city network studies could include the different nature of their composition. They have an alternative modus operandi to APS and traditional industries as they tend to be populated by smaller firms and the cultural nature of their products create a new set of problems regarding their marketability (i.e., they are socially symbolic; Bourdieu 1986; Lash and Urry 1994; Pratt 2008; Scott 2001). Recent work on film (Christopherson 2006; Coe 2000; Mould 2007; Scott 2005), music (Leyshon 2001; Lovering 1998; Watson 2008 and specific to Sydney, Gibson 2002), fashion (Crewe 1996), theatre (Dempster 2006; Sierz 1997) and new media (Christopherson 2004; Currah 2006; Searle and De Valence 2005) has shed light onto the intricate (and project-based) workings of specific industries – yet little is known about the inter-city connectivity of these industries. It is no secret that these industries have a tendency to cluster in certain city areas (Florida 2002; Landry 2000) e.g. Hollywood and Bollywood (film), Broadway (theatre), South Bank (art) – but what is not known is if, and to what extent, these industries contribute to the relational data of cultural industry networks between cities. Many of the world's largest companies are considered to be cultural industries – for example Disney, AOL Time Warner, Microsoft – and so their contribution to the global network of cities is substantial. Also, products of cultural industries and the activities that go on within the sector are of the ‘utmost cultural importance in that they function as agents of information, influence and persuasion or as vehicles of entertainment or social self-portrayal' (Krätke 2003: 607). For the global economy too, their importance cannot be understated:

Worldwide, the creative industries sector has been among the fastest growing sectors of the global economy. Several analysts, including the OECD (1998), the UK government's Creative Industries Task Force (CITF, 2001), Jeremy Rifkin (2000) and John Howkins (2001), point to the crucial role that the creative industries play in the new economy, with growth rates better than twice those of advanced economies as a whole. Entertainment has displaced defence in the US as the driver of new technology take-up and has overtaken defence and aerospace as the biggest sector of the southern Californian economy. (Cunningham 2004: 110)

Despite this, there has been a small amount of world city research undertaken on the cultural networks that these industries precipitate, no doubt because of their ephemerality and project-based nature (more of which will be discussed later in the paper).

That which has been undertaken, has tended to either focus on the firms involved in the cultural industries (Krätke 2003) or is related to a particular medium, such as film, literature or music and used semiotics, textual or musical analysis and relating that to the city (e.g. Carroll and Connell 2002; Sheil and Fitzmaurice 2001). Researching the cultural industries (or more specifically in these cases, ‘culture') with this particular methodology tends to focus within a particular city (see Clarke 1997), and therefore deviates away from the importance of the inter-city connections. A particular case in point is an edited collection by Krause and Petro (2003), which only provides incidental data about these intangible cultural connections, and which is aligned with a scalar (i.e. political economic, and therefore non-relational) ontology; in the editors' words the work ‘relates to the interjection between the global and the local' (2003: 10). Abrahamson (2004) provides another recent study of the cultural industries in his book Global cities by adding them to the data sets in constructing a hierarchy. He again roots his thinking in scale suggesting that global culture originates from global cities and then used the information of culture to formulate hierarchies of cities which (unsurprisingly) places New York, London, Tokyo and Paris at the top. This paper therefore positions itself in the area of cultural industries (by selecting a prominent one – that of TVP), but it is also a relational study, providing more details about the collaborative connections between Sydney and other cities. It therefore departs from the more scalar work of Krause and Petro (2003) and the more hierarchical stance of Abrahamson (2004).

While the television production industry is only one facet of the cultural industries, it is an important one considering the amount of leisure time society in general devotes to the medium. The next section attempts to add TVP to the growing literature on world city connectivity, by using a methodology commensurable with it. Moreover, while the section presents quantifiable data, it adds more relational data, thereby extending this type of epistemology.

Sydney’s Television Connections

Quantifying world city connectivity data involves constructing a data set that takes into account the firms headquartered in a particular city and their subsidiary office and company locations (Taylor et al. 2002; Taylor 2004). While this methodology has been described as ‘a little like counting door knockers' (Smith 2003a: 31), it is necessary as it provides a foundation data set that can be added to by a more nuanced method that accounts for the characteristics of the connections. This allows us to develop and ‘ go beyond counting; to go through those doors to find out precisely how networks work and are maintained over long-distances' (Smith 2003a: 31).

This section details the connectivity of the TVP by first coupling office locations of the major firms in Sydney with data on co-productions; this highlights inter-firm collaboration and exemplifies the actual practices of firms within the industry – thereby giving unique information on what actually constitutes the world city connections. Independent television production firms tend to have a small number of staff (in many cases, a freelancer) sometimes operating out of their homes (Goronstaeva 2008). However, in Sydney's TVP, there are a handful of established companies with a larger workforce and a number of office locations around the world. The larger firms (in terms of employee numbers, turnover and sales – data which was gathered from secondary source research) were used as the basis for this data set in order to show which cities Sydney has the most connections with through their TVP firms.

There are no publications or official statistics that rank these firms (for example, such as there is law firms, namely, so in order to select the firms to analyse, a more direct measure was used. A list of the firms that produce programmes for television and which have their headquarters in Sydney and have offices in other cities was complied; there were twelve in total. In terms of the size of these firms, the ownership of offices in other cities is commensurable with the number of staff (with the available data), in that those firms with a larger number of staff tended to have an office outside of Sydney. Therefore, using secondary sources such as the Encore Directory 20043 and also some information from the fieldwork, the following firms (listed alphabetically) were used (companies all in existence at time of writing);

  • Becker Entertainment
  • Beyond International
  • Classroom Video
  • Doll
  • 8 commercials
  • Flying Fish
  • Grundy
  • LIC
  • Screentime
  • Southern Star
  • TWI
  • Woss Group


Figure 1: TVP firms in Sydney



All these companies have their head offices in Sydney, with all but one clustered in the CBD area and in the Northern shore suburbs of Artarmon and Crow's Nest4. Some of them are part of a larger media conglomerate that have their headquarters in other cities (for example Grundy is owned by Freemantle Media which is headquartered in London). Nevertheless, the companies have production autonomy, and have existed as an independent entity since their creation, but at some stage in their history have been bought out by a larger media company. The cities where their subsidiary branches are located are listed in Table 1, with their appropriate company.

Table 1: City locations of Sydney ’s top ten TV production firms (Source: Author’s survey & Encore Directory, 2004)




Classroom Video


8 Com-mercials

Flying Fish




Southern Star


Woss Group












Bristol, UK














































Los Angeles


























New Delhi













New York


















































Washington DC




























The cities presented in Table 1 were those mentioned by the managers and CEOs surveyed and those listed in the directories. This is not a fully comprehensive list of subsidiary branches as there are other outlets in other cities, as opposed to functional offices. Continuing the example of Grundy Television, it has an outlet in Hong Kong, but it is nothing more than a front desk, a gateway to the main company office in Sydney. Those outlets were not included as they were not fully functional offices with an element of operational independence from Sydney. It was also important to use those companies that had a high degree of contact and communication with the overseas offices, as some of the overseas subsidiary offices of the larger established firms are increasingly independent, and although the communication with Sydney is on a weekly basis, it is increasingly formalized with conference calls and real-time video meetings, unlike some of the smaller firms where the contact is more informal and consists of e-mail chatter and phone calls.

As Table 1 shows, London houses the most overseas branches of Sydney-based firms, with six in total even though London is the second most furthest city away geographically (although not culturally) at 10,553 miles (the furthest being Dublin at 10,689 miles). Auckland is the next ‘most connected' city with four. Both Dublin and Shanghai have two offices and the rest of the cities only have one.

However, these data alone are not sufficient. This methodology is a useful starting point, but only tells us so much (as per the discussion of Taylor 2004). To ‘go beyond counting' (Smith 2003a) and discover what the characteristics of the networks are, then there is a need to supplement this data with relational inter-city data. One way this can be achieved is by analysing the number of co-productions between production firms in Sydney and other production companies in cities around the world, producing collaborative data. Co-productions are when two firms collaborate to produce a single product (a television show, documentary, commercial etc) and are a common and cost-effective way of producing programmes if the project has a limited budget. Indeed, if successful, firms may establish long-standing relationships (e.g. Southern Star and Endemol of Amsterdam). Table 2 shows cities and the number of firms that participated in co-productions with Sydney firms between 2000 and 2005.


Table 2: Number of TV Co-Productions between Sydney firms and firms in other cities 2000 – 2005 (Source: Adapted from


Number of Co-Productions



Los Angeles















Again, London tops the list with four, perhaps to be expected given the amount of overseas offices located there. Los Angeles has three, Paris two, and the rest of the cities have just one. Using these two data sets as means of quantifying collaboration and world city connectivity, Figure 2 visually expresses the connections that Tables 1 and 2 describe. The placement of the cities in Figure 2 is not random; it has been set out in a (relatively) realistic geographical pattern around Sydney, separated out into approximate regions (akin to Taylor and Walker 2001, 2004).


Figure 2: Geographical reach of TV production industry in Sydney

City abbreviations:

AD Adelaide; AK Auckland; BR Bristol; DB Dublin; DL Delhi; JK Jakarta; LA Los Angeles; LN London; MB Mumbai; MT Montreal; NY New York; OT Ottawa; PS Paris; SH Shanghai; SN Singapore; SY Sydney; VC Vancouver; WS Washington


In Figure 2, overseas offices count as one connection, and a co-production between Sydney and another city also count as one connection. These two means of connectedness combine to provide a more nuanced understanding of the information regarding the collaborations between cities. The office location data entails an amount of formal communication data, such as board meetings, policy discussions, conference calls and official business visits, however adding to it the collaborative data provides more holistic into inter-city connectivity (Goldsmith and O'Regen 2003; Herd 2004). From the data and Figure 2, London is the most ‘connected' to Sydney, but with very few other European cities (other than Dublin, Paris and Bristol). In fact, other than Paris and the four cities in Asia, all cities present have a population that is predominantly English-speaking. This is crucial because when dealing in products that are broadcast on television, the language that the programme is recorded in can specify a particular market. Those programmes that use the English language are easier to transport to cities which has English as its major language; while dubbing and subtitling is a way around this, this process enrols more firms and ultimately leads to more expense. So, it would seem that language is an overriding factor in the connections between Sydney and other cities – although this is a wider characteristic of the production industry as a whole. Bob Campbell, the Executive Director of Screentime (one of the companies involved in the data set) argues,

At the core of all this is the English language. We're very lucky that our first language, in fact our only language, is the international language of commerce, the international language of television. If we're dealing in Hungarian, we wouldn't be doing what were doing. So, what that means is that successful shows or successful formats are known about instantaneously. (Campbell, 2004)

Screentime, as can be seen in Table 1 has offices in (thereby facilitating the sale of products to) Auckland, London and Dublin so is very much focused on an English speaking audience.

London's dominance in this field is to be expected. Notwithstanding the language factor that Bob Campbell explained, the ties between Sydney and London extend to the training of the staff. The information in Table 3 was gathered from the phone survey, with a question asking what the background training was for the CEO or founder of each production company surveyed.


Table 3: Firms or institutions mentioned (frequency more than 1) as background and experience and the city of origin

Name of firm/institution

City of HQ

No. of mentions




Channel 7



Channel 10









Channel 9



Film Australia









Hoyts Theatre






London Film School







When asked about their background and experience before setting up the company, 32 per cent of the CEOs or the founders of the firm had previously worked for one of the national television networks, the ABC, SBS, Channel 7, 9 or 10. The jobs performed at the networks were of a varied nature, directing, producing, camera operator, head of programming or simply typing the news ticker that is displayed in Martins Place. This shows the importance of the television stations in a training sense, in that many of the programme makers in the industry have gained their experience from working in an environment conducive to their career. The television networks occupy the top five places in terms of frequency of occurrence, along with the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) also having four mentions – all Sydney-based institutions. The experience does not just come from the television stations however, or indeed just Sydney; the BBC, Independent Television (ITV) in the UK, London Weekend Television (LWT – since merged to form part of the Carlton network) and the London Film School also are mentioned. While the Australian national television networks provide the majority of experience and training for future independent film and TV makers, London is further connected to Sydney's TVP by providing a ‘training ground' for programme makers to learn their craft and then continue their work in Sydney.

The strength of the ties that Sydney has with London has so far been quantifiably exemplified in this paper. The number of offices that Sydney firms have there, the number of co-productions that firms from the two cities engage in, as well as the training London provides for Sydney-based personnel; they are three ways of providing data that can ‘count' the connections between Sydney and (in this case) London. However, as was suggested above, if we are to go ‘beyond counting' and see ‘ how the mobilisation of materials, and practices of people, stitch-together the networks between cities' (Smith 2003a: 39) then there is a need to highlight the practices of those involved in these connections. In order to do this, then descriptive empirics are needed which can show what is actually is that people (and things) do which ‘stitch' Sydney and London together. There is no shortage of this activity, indeed there would be too much to attempt to describe it all, so a more concise and coherent approach is needed. This is where recent debates in economic geography and the wider social sciences can help. There is an emerging literature on the ‘project-turn' (Grabher 2004a, 2004b; see also Lash and Lury 2007 for work on ‘project biographies'). Without detailing that particular vernacular here, it does highlight how the international media production industries are arranged around projects. Indeed it is stated that ‘one thing international analysts of new media work agree on is that the work is project-based' (Christopherson 2004: 545). In particular, the television production industry works in an often disjointed and unintegrated way and involves many self-employed freelance workers (Gornostaeva 2008). Rifkin (2005: 363, my emphasis) remarks, ‘every film production brings together a team of specialised production companies and independent contractors, each with its own expertise, along with the talent. Together, the parties constitute a short-lived network enterprise whose lifespan will be limited to the duration of the project.' Often these ‘short-lived networks' are housed under a temporary ‘company'. This mode of labour organization is considered paradoxical by some, as ‘even the most successful organizations are organised with their future dissolution in mind' (DeFillipi and Aurthur 1998: 128). This spreads freelance working and the project-based nature of employment in this industry is hence comprehensive, with very few large TVP firms (in Sydney at any rate), formulating what has been coined a ‘cottage economy' (Long 2005). In the UK for example, ‘the progressive fragmentation of the UK film industry and deregulation in the UK television industry has resulted in almost universal freelance working' (Davenport 2006: 253), a situation mirrored in Sydney (Herd 2004; Long 2005). This increases risk and hence intensifies the proliferation of project-based, freelance employment (Dex et al. 2000).

As a result, looking at one particular project becomes a viable and holistic way of describing the connections between two cities. As much TVP is organized around a particular project, then they can become the ‘unit of calculation' (Grabher 2004) and be used as a neat ‘frame' for describing the ubiquitous and messy (Law 2004) connections that constitute city connections (Amin and Thrift 2007; Smith 2003a, 2003b). The following section outlines one such project, a Sydney-London based co-production of the TV mini-series Mary Bryant. It is written as descriptive ‘story-telling' from its conception through to distribution, in order to highlight the actions of people that constitute the inter-city connections along the way. The ‘practice-centred' approach from economic geography aligns well with a project-led enquiry as it lends itself to the study of these ‘project ecologies' (Grabher 2004)5, which is a characteristic of much TVP around the globe.

Case Study: Mary Bryant

The tale of Mary Bryant is an imperial story about the colonial connections between England and Australia, so it is perhaps with a touch of poetic justice that it should be retold by a London-Sydney collaborative effort. The TV series is based on the true story of a young English convict sent to the penal colony of Botany Bay in New South Wales. She then escapes with her family and two friends and undertakes a hazardous journey to East Timor, a Dutch colony, where they pretended to be shipwreck victims. They are soon found out and sent back to Britain, but on the passage all but Mary perish. She stands trial and if found guilty, faces the death penalty, but she is eventually pardoned due to huge public outcry (King 2004). This particular case study took the form of in-depth interviews with the key people involved in the production of Mary Bryant, as well as on-site visits to the set and post-production facilities. This helped in gaining a better understanding of the actions of people, and what was actually being done to create the project network. Moreover, the other cities involved (be that in terms of firms from London, actors from Melbourne or equipment from Tokyo) are highlighted to show precisely what constitutes Sydney's TVP world city networks, via this particular project. Therefore, in order to make sure that the action of people are the focus, quotations have been used in favour of my own descriptive interpretation. This interpretation can potentially mask the action of the networks being studied, as so by presenting more of the actual dialogue of those involved, interpretation is kept to a minimum.

Mary Bryant's story took place in the 1790s, and so historical accounts of her voyage are mostly from diaries of soldiers and convicts that came into contact with her or had some part to play in the events of her life. It is a particularly poignant story for Sydniens as it is linked to the initial settlement of Botany Bay, and the eventual settlement of Australia. I learned that the executive producers of the production company, Screentime, had been keen to do a feature-length dramatization of Mary Bryant's adventure for some time, as Bob Campbell, the executive director of Screentime (a Sydney-based production firm) suggests;

Its something we've wanted to do for a long time, my business partner happens to very passionate about it, but he first attempted to have Mary Bryant produced about fifteen, sixteen years ago – this has been a labour of love – and, so, we were both involved in executive decisions for the Seven network, back then, and for all sorts of reasons it didn't get done. (Campbell 2004)

The preliminary conversations also involved the New South Wales Film and Television Office (FTO). When Granada were looking into making the production, Garry Brennan, the then-production manager liaison at the FTO was contacted about the generalities of conducting such a large operation;

I had a meeting with Andy Harris [of Granada] quite a while ago and they first mentioned that the idea that they had a script. …So, Granada had a script for the mini-series and they came to see us [FTO] and wanted to talk about how they would make the film, where they would make of the film, could it be done, what you need and so on. (Brennan 2005)

As it was a co-production (between Granada and Screentime), extra funds could be secured from broadcasters in the UK and Australia, and as Granada had strong existing links with ITV, the rights for UK distribution were soon bought by the London-based channel. With the funding also secured from Power Television, who hold the international distribution rights to the film (excluding the UK) and Australian Film Finance Corporation (a total budget of AU$15-16million in total was raised), the actual process of production could begin, with core personnel being hired and key actors recruited. It is this process which is very much reliant on trust within the social networks and personal relationships, as people will hire those who they work with best, or who they know can do the best job for this type of production (Murphy 2006). That was one of the primary reasons why the freelance director, Peter Andrikidis was hired, as he had recently directed the Screentime production of Jessica, a dramatization of true events surrounding a young women's fight for justice during World War I, which had won numerous awards. The partnership between Screentime and Peter had therefore been a successful and enjoyable enterprise and it seemed natural to continue the partnership when the opportunity arose to work on another period drama.

With the recruitment of people into the production, it is the executive producers who have ultimate control. All the major financiers are represented by one executive producer – Des Monaghan of Screentime, Andy Harries of Granada, Sue Masters of Channel 10 and Justin Bodle of Power Television. Peter Berry a freelance producer, with the assistance of the director, Peter Andrikidis are influential in selecting who is assigned what role, both in cast and crew. However, there is a certain amount of delegation, with the executive producers and directors recruiting the co-producers and line producers, who then in turn recruit those ‘below' them (in terms of creative control), such as heads of departments, art, costume, set design and so on. However, one of the key positions in the production is the line producer, who is responsible for the practicalities of the shoot. The line producer for Mary Bryant was Brenda Pam (a self-employed line producer), who outlines her role;

The line producer is really the practical producer but you don't have a line producer on every project, you usually have line producers if the producers on the show are more creatively bent and not as practical or don't have the level of practical experience within the territory. (Pam 2005)

So, with a production of this size and budget, the executive directors felt that there was a need for a hands-on line producer working in tandem with the producers, Andrew Benson of Granada and Greg Haddrick of Screentime. The appointment of Andrew Benson is similar to that of the director, as Andrew has worked as a producer on the ITV show Hornblower, which uses a similar set design to Mary Bryant, as well as the use of long sequences of colonial ships, suggesting that he was hired because he was the ‘right man for the job';

We all come from a different level of professionalism and the most important thing in this instance is that they are the right person for the mix and sit of that particular job, which was the case with Andrew. (Pam 2005)

With the most ‘creative' positions filled, (i.e., director and producers) the assembled crew then go about suggesting people who could fill the other positions in the crew. It is at this time in the preproduction period when the contacts that these freelance individuals have are most used, in that those in creative control will want to hire those they trust, and those they know can do a good job. As Brenda Pam explains;

Some people were already on board, people that Peter [Andrikidis] liked to have on board, and there is always a small team of people that we would like, so the next stage was that they wanted to choose a production designer and a costume designer, casting agent and so on. Then we put together a list; they [the executive producers] have a few people, Peter had a few suggestions, I had a few suggestions, they put together a list and then they interviewed … And then it went to London; key creative decisions had been made by Granada because of the financial involvement. (Pam 2005)

The next phase of production included Anoushka Zarkesh, the self-employed freelance-casting director for Mary Bryant, who describes her involvement in the production, and at what stage;

In my part of the [pre-]production, I'm involved right in the beginning and then say goodbye to everyone when they start the principal photography. I'm employed by the executive producers, Screentime and Andrew Benson who is from Granada, they approached me to do the casting so basically they just gave me the script and say, in consultation with Peter Andrikidis the director, what they have in mind and then they both say can you suggest and start screen testing actors for each speaking roll. (Zarkesh 2005)

The casting director is one of the ‘creative roles' in that they are initially recruited by the team of producers and directors and so her influence in deciding who to cast in specific roles is vital. Although, the executive producers and the director have final say as to who is in and who is out, the day-to-day activities are left to her discretion;

For me, they don't know who I contact, agents, they are not aware of the dynamics that I do, they just want to hear that I'd booked them all in which actors are coming in, and all the negotiations, they don't want to hear all that day-to-day shit that I'm talking to the agents about – they just want to know if there's a problem, and if it is a problem, sort it out. (Zarkesh 2005)

Parts of her processes involve drawing up the shortlist of actors for particular roles, a process which is described below;

We wheel them [people in for the auditions] in with a weeks notice with the script, we give them a scene for the audition and then they come in for a screen test with a camera and a video and usually it would be the director and I in the room. In this situation, the producers stay out of the picture and then we do recalls and fallbacks, but once you have a shortlist you bring the producer in and in this case it was Andrew Benson, he was quite hands-on, he would want to meet them and have a chat with them and then they all [the other producers] got involved. (Zarkesh 2005)

The process of casting is not as straightforward as deciding who are the best actors; there is an issue of the right actor to sell the product. Because it is a co-production, there is a need for ‘star' actors from Australian television as well as British television, and so there was a great deal of debate as to who would be in the key roles. The debate was conducted in teleconferences between London and Sydney;

There were 10 of us, from London [Granada], Channel 10 and us [Sreentime] all fighting over which actors we wanted, who had more profile in Australia, who had more profile in the UK …trying to sell Sam Neill better then they could sell Colin Friel, so there was a lot of fights about which actors sold a production more. …Once you've decided who your actors are the line producer [Brenda Pam] and I will negotiate contracts on the financial side of things and that's all done before we start shooting – and those conferences were all done over the phone. (Zarkesh 2005)

The process of casting for the show took approximately 5 months, but there were some roles that had been cast some time before the process of casting began;

In the case of David [Field] who was playing one of the main roles, Peter [Andrikidis] had it in his mind that he wanted David right from the beginning, so he said I'm going to get David for that role and that's it. So we had to play around and audition people, but the producers wanted David as well, in fact I think David was the first one cast, he was easy. (Zarkesh 2005)

This exemplifies the nonlinearity of the whole process, with the casting of David Field, which would ordinarily take place in the preproduction stage, all but sealed when the director was hired, as David himself explains;

He's [Peter Andrikidis] a television director, he doesn't have time to sit and go (mimics choosing) there's no time. I would say to him when I come in and do a test, ‘I'm going to play it like this', and he'll say ‘yeah, but don't go too far that way, but that's a good idea', then I will give him something else and he will say ‘yes I like that character', he knows Im a good actor. (Field 2005)

This highlights the fact that the relationship that David has with Peter is a strong one, in that they have worked together officially in four different productions, emphasizing the fact that personal contacts are key – if you work well with a director as an actor (or crew member) then you are more likely to get hired again.

The role of the line producer (Brenda Pam) and the production manager are to make sure of smooth operations to the shoot, and generally troubleshooting on set. This can be a very involved task as there are a number of different departments, which need coordinating to complete the production on time and on budget. There are a number of people whose job is not directly involved in the shoot itself (such as an actor on screen or a crew member) but whose task is to service those people. For example, there was a freelance accent coach on set all the time as there were many actors from Sydney having to put on a Cornwall accent.

The main locations in the story of Mary Bryant were Cornwall, Botany Bay, East Timor and London. There was an attempt made to use the facilities at Fox Studios at Moore Park. However, this was ultimately unfeasible;

I was negotiating to use the water tank in Fox Studios for Mary Bryant and they [the studio executives] were really keen to have us in, but they couldn't allocate the time that we needed because they thought something was big coming in from the States. (Pam 2005)

For this production, there were two primary locations for shooting, Sydney and the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, which was used for the East Timor scenes. There could have been shooting in Plymouth however;

It was finally agreed that everything would be shot here [in Sydney ], but there were very tight controls being exercised both here and in London. Scripting approvals, casting approvals, everyone sees everything that is shot every day; we fly tapes up to London everyday. (Campbell 2004)

The constant movement of tapes on a daily basis between Sydney and London is an example of the physical movement of items, but these tapes would have been of ‘raw' footage, with none of the postproduction value of sound or special effects added. The footage would have been seen by the executive producers in London and they would then have cast their critical eye over the footage, asking for specific changes to particular scenes or dialogue. Therefore, the lines of communication between London and Sydney (and perhaps the Whitsundays if that is where the shoot was taking place at the time) are constant, with overnight bags sending the tapes from one side of the world to the other and back again for the duration of the production.

Once all the shooting has been completed (the whole shooting period was 16 weeks – two-week rehearsal period and then 14 weeks of shooting) the process of postproduction begins, which still involves the key actors in the rerecording of voices. Analogue to Digital Recording (ADR) is a major process in postproduction, which involves all the key actors rerecording their voices digitally to replace the analogue recordings that were obtained during the shoot. In this particular production, the ADR process involved a (then) new piece of software which enabled the actor to engage with the ADR process remotely. Romola Garai, who plays the lead role, was conducting her ADR in London, while the postproduction firm involved, Spectrum films, are located on the Fox lot in Sydney. The ADR process has previously needed the actor to be in the same room as the recording equipment and the original footage (i.e. in Sydney), however this new software has enabled this process to be conducted while the actor is in London – this new piece of technology (or more precisely, its performance) has extended the length of the network.

The production of Mary Bryant involved a multiplicity of institutions and freelancers; production firms, film financiers, distribution companies, broadcasters, directors, actors, casting agents and lawyers – a handful of which have been discussed in this case study. There are a number of other people, firms, agencies and government departments that could be discussed in relation to this production depending on how far the network is followed. For example, the advertising agencies involved in the selling or advertising time whilst the production is on air; the landowners who rented their property in order for the production to be shot; the light and camera manufacturing company; even the families and friends of those involved provide avenues of exploration: all which have agency and whose performance effect the spacing and timing of the production network of Mary Bryant.

As mentioned at the outset of this case study, the fact that this two-part mini-series is a true story of the initial migrations from the UK to Australia being told by a London-Sydney co-production is quite historically apt. The locations visited in this project include London, Sydney, the Whitsundays to film the East Timor scenes, the forests of Wollongong to film particular Cornwall scenes and other locations around Australia; places that are geographically distant, but brought together through the project. It took a relatively long time to get the mini-series made (Campbell mentions in the first quote that they have been trying for sixteen years), but it took an international co-production to get it produced. The technologies mentioned in the project (such as the delivery of overnight footage from London to Sydney and the ADR) are examples of how the co-productive relationship was maintained over long distances, thereby facilitating the working relationship between those in Australia and those in London. Co-productions are an increasingly important way of making television projects (Davenport 2006), and empirical enquires led by sound case studies into them can provide tangible and useful data on world city, cultural networks.

Concluding Comments

This paper has sought to highlight the imbalance in world city geography literature by focusing on a city that is relatively under-researched (Sydney), and an industrial sector (TVP) that is largely omitted from connectivity data. Moreover, it was an attempt to couple the quantitative methodologies of world city network theory, with qualitative, project-based enquiry, to produce a more holistic and nuanced understanding of international co-productions and networks in the TVP. The discussions throughout this paper should alert the reader to the fact that the simple quantitatively orientated data on connectivity, which have tended to focus on office locations, can only take us so far in our understanding of the world city network (Amin and Thrift 2002). In order to have a more developed knowledge of the characteristics of the connections, then data on the practices of those involved in these connections need to be studied (Doel and Hubbard 2002; Jones 2008; Smith 2003a, 2003b, 2006, 2007). Presenting the quantitative data with the descriptive qualitative material of the project-led case study provides a concise, neat way of showing the juxtaposition between inter- and intra-firm connectivity that is centred on the practices of the people involved.

Using a more descriptive form of data analysis, the intangible nature of cultural industry connections can thus be recorded (Amin and Thrift 2002), providing a complimentary approach to the already established data set on APS firms. In doing so, it is important to take into account the nature of the data, i.e. company data has been used to quantify connections. As has been discussed, particularly through the case study of Mary Bryant, the freelance and project-base nature of this industry builds connections constantly between cities, and this cannot be underestimated. Although using company data and official co-production figures gives an insight, there are also large numbers of freelance workers in the industry who are constantly moving between Sydney and other cities working for particular companies on an ad hoc basis. These are exactly the kind of connections and relationships that serve to create a ‘messiness' (Law 2004) and intangibility (Smith 2003a) of world city networks. These freelancers, perhaps once employed by the production houses themselves, go on to employ hundreds of other staff in a single production, yet because they are not a recognised firm or company and work independently, it can be difficult to quantify their contribution to the industry using official sources of statistics. The behaviour and actions of these freelancers and their interaction with their peers, production firms, financial agencies and governments is what ultimately constitutes the mobility and presence of the TVP. The study of these projects (be they in television, film, architecture, art or any other prominent cultural industry) as a way of presenting city network data can be a useful addition to the armoury of world city scholars, particular in the field of the cultural industries, which as we have seen, lend themselves to this mode of labour organization.


I would like to thank Dr Anna Dempster and Dr Tim Vorley for their constructive feedback on the original drafts of the paper. I would also like to thank the interviewees for giving up their time to allow me to interview them – the informal and friendly manner in which they conducted themselves made my task so much easier.


Bob Campbell is an executive producer from Screentime, based in Sydney.

Garry Brennan was the film liaison officer for the New South Wales Film and Television Office.

Davied Field us a freelance actor, based in Sydney.

Annoushka Zarkesh is a freelance casting director, based in Sydney.

Brenda Pam is a freelance line producer, based in Sydney.



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* Oli Mould, Creative Industries Observatory, London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, UK, E-mail:

1. Here, we can already see how the cultural aspect of cities has been marginalized in world city theorization. The servicing and financing are only two aspects international trade; cities are also centres for the culture and recreational activities of international trade (Abrahamson, 2004; Hannerz 1996; Scott 1997).

2. One of the critiques of Sassen (e.g. Taylor 2004) suggests that while she argues that world cities are needed to house the headquarter operations, many MNC and TNC headquarters are not located in cities at all.

3. The use of directories in this instance was necessary as there was a distinct lack of other accurate information. Because of the highly dynamic nature of TVP firms, there is the potential for these directories to become out-of-date relatively quickly. However, when cross-referenced with more established directories, such as the Yellow Pages, the Encore Directory was the most comprehensive list by far at the time of the fieldwork.

4. All TVP companies are shown in Figure 1, apart from Classroom Video. This is because it is located in Warriewood, a suburb to the far north of Sydney. The full map can be found and interacted with at the following URL:

5. These ‘project ecologies' have a similar conceptualization to other economic geography themes, such as ‘buzz' (Bathelt et al. 2004), the importance of fact-to-face contact (F2F – Storper and Venables 2004) and ‘communities of practice' (Gertler 2003) which all stress the importance of the everyday interaction to the formulation and organization of work within particular industries.


Edited and posted on the web on 31st July 2006; last update 9th July 2008

Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in Global Networks, 8 (4), (2008), 474-495