Griffith graduate kickstarts local film industry

Griffith Film School alumnus, producer Steve Jaggi

Griffith Film School graduate Steve Jaggi is helping to kickstart the local screen industry with a raft of projects underway in Queensland.

Netflix has bought the global rights to Steve’s latest production, Dive Club. Shooting in Port Douglas it has created more than 100 jobs and is pumping $8 million into the local economy.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to me to be able to support the local industry,” Steve said.

“There was a point during the early COVID lockdowns where I thought we would go bankrupt, but we’ve been busier in the past six months than ever before.

“We’ve shot projects in Brisbane, Cairns and now Port Douglas, and once international players realised that we were open for business, my phone has been ringing off the hook.”

While Netflix acquired worldwide distribution rights for the 12-part TV series, it will also be broadcast on Channel Ten in Australia.

Griffith Film School alumnus Hayley MacFarlane

The series will be directed by fellow Griffith Film School alumnus Hayley MacFarlane, who also helmed the company’s recent feature film, Swimming for Gold.

Since graduating from Griffith, Steve has established his own production company, The Steve Jaggi Company, and carved out a niche producing young adult and female-centred content for companies including Disney.

The showrunner and producer said the growing popularity of streaming services provided plenty of opportunity.

“Netflix buying the global rights for our first TV series is a big milestone,” Steve said.

“Audiences are deserting cinemas in droves for streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Stan – and these companies are hungry for content.

“There was a real gap in the market for audiences sidelined by the big action blockbusters and arthouse films.

“Our niche is feel good, aspirational content for kids and women over 35.”

Griffith Film School alumnus Steve Jaggi

Steve’s first foray into the young adult genre, Rip Tide, was one of the highest grossing Australian films and picked up by Netflix for worldwide release.

His next film, Back of the Net was distributed by Disney and his latest feature, Swimming for Gold, has been snapped up by Universal Pictures for worldwide release after a theatrical release in Australia.

Steve said Queensland was fast becoming a global mecca for film and TV production, with COVID impacting the screen industry in the US and Europe.

“Queensland is perfectly positioned to welcome productions from all over the world,” he said.

“After I graduated, I worked in London and the US, but now Queensland is the place to be.”

Steve said moving from his native Canada to study a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production at Griffith had prepared him well for a diverse career in the industry.

“I really enjoyed the course and I feel like it has given me an edge in my professional career,” he said.

“I think I also received a boost from coming to study abroad — it gave me the confidence and connections to build up my company and approach these huge companies in LA and London.”

Professor Herman Van Eyken

Head of Griffith Film School Professor Herman Van Eyken said Steve and Hayley were part of a community of GFS alumni enjoying international success in the film industry.

“It is wonderful to see our graduates stepping up and taking on films and TV series for the world’s biggest studios and streaming services,” he said.

“The fact that they are producing and directing these projects right here in Queensland speaks to the talent we are helping to nurture and our reputation as a global screen hub.”