Meet Michelle McCormac, a Sunshine Coast local who’s literally on speed dial for the world’s biggest luxury and consumer brands and ‘go-to’ for jaw-dropping homes featured on hit reality TV shows like The Bachelor and Married at First Sight.
At the helm of Australia’s leading location agency, Pure Locations, she’s in the business of matchmaking an eye-popping portfolio of homes – and homeowners from all walks of life – with creative industry clients seeking unique spaces for TV commercials, photoshoots, feature films, TV series, product launches and brand events.
Think reality TV shows including Love Island Australia (currently being filmed in a Pure Locations-listed home in Byron), Married at First Sight, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, My Kitchen Rules, Australia’s Next Top Model, The Masked Singer, Bride & Prejudice, Luxe Listings Sydney, and Seven Year Switch; alongside national and international brands of the ilk of Chanel, Cartier, Vogue, Ralph Lauren, Fendi, Google, Samsung, Facebook, King Living, Coco Republic, Domayne, Kmart, Target, Coles, Nespresso, De’Longhi, QV and more.
“Any big brand client you can think of in Australia, we work with them,” says Michelle, who followed her dream to swap the hustle and bustle of London for the Sunshine Coast 14 years ago. A destination which, she adds, oozes star appeal. Effortlessly.
“Many of our clients call us and say they’d love to be based on the Sunshine Coast because, realistically, this is living the dream.”
A pure location
Location. Location. Location.
For film and advertising clients focused on ‘selling dreams’, Michelle says the Sunshine Coast has become a hotspot for all the right reasons.
Most recently the region is providing a COVID-safe haven for an increasing line-up of productions (concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne) to continue working by shifting focus to Queensland. Hiring local production crews and sometimes even directing shoots by Zoom.
“It’s funny, I used to try and hide the fact that I was based on the Sunshine Coast because I didn’t feel like my clients would understand why I wasn’t in Sydney or Melbourne,” she says.
“Instead, being on the Sunshine Coast has become a HUGE talking point!”
Michelle is busily moving to bigger offices on the coast and recruiting a new account manager to join Pure Locations’ 10-strong team.
Outside the day-to-day business of booking stellar house locations, Michelle jokes she’s also become something of a Sunshine Coast ambassador, providing ‘relocation advice’ (including information on high-quality schools, hospitals, and universities) to interstate creative industry clients and homeowners wanting to move to the region.
“We regularly get big clients in Sydney and Melbourne telling us the thing they love the most each year is coming up to the Sunshine Coast for holidays. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, quite a few of them have decided to sell up and move their lives here.
“People now realise they can have high-end careers and be living the dream somewhere as special as the Sunshine Coast. The investment that’s being put into infrastructure and opportunities created for businesses, across all professions, is just mind-blowing.”
Sky's the limit
According to Michelle, there’s no question the Sunshine Coast offers the best of all worlds: an ‘enviable business and lifestyle hub’, blessed with world-class facilities and infrastructure, sandwiched between idyllic beaches and lush hinterland and all easily accessed via Sunshine Coast Airport.
COVID aside, she says the #1 reason behind the Sunshine Coast’s appeal is embedded in its very DNA.
“Our clients need to have blue skies in their shoots because most are done outside. So, we can provide homes with interesting architecture, a unique quirk or modern lines anywhere.
“But it’s really challenging, especially at certain times of the year, to predict whether filming or a photoshoot can go ahead in Sydney or Melbourne because the weather is more temperamental.
“On the Sunshine Coast, crews can move around more freely, accessing an incredible array of homes. But, most importantly, blue skies are pretty much guaranteed.”
Michelle’s also proud to put the Sunshine Coast on the map as a world-class destination that makes good business sense for clients.
“In the past, clients may have gone to Bali or Fiji to get a certain look they needed for a brand, but we’ve proved they don’t need to go overseas.
“The Sunshine Coast has everything on its doorstep. We’ve got houses with every kind of background our clients could possibly need – houses that look like you could be in Mykonos, Palm Springs or New York. Multi-million mansions and simple suburban homes.
“This not only makes good business sense, delivering cost savings, but makes life a lot easier for people working in the industry. They all have families and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to go overseas for two weeks to do a photoshoot.”
For Michelle, the ‘eureka moment’ behind Pure Locations struck during her former career as advertorial manager for London-based IPC Magazines Group, where she often struggled to source diverse locations for fashion/lifestyle shoots in Marie Claire, In Style and 19 Magazine.
In 2003, she took a leap of faith to launch the UK’s first ‘home location’ agency, Max Locations. While the venture was hugely successful, she and her husband, Paul (a clinical psychologist), had ‘a bigger dream’.
“We backpacked around Australia in the nineties and wanted to come back, raise a family and live in the sunshine.
“My husband’s parents emigrated from the UK a few years before us and settled in Brisbane. So, we arrived, toured Queensland in a van, stumbled on the Sunshine Coast and instantly fell in love with it.
“We knew it would be the perfect place to raise our family.”
Michelle’s business also boomed.
Today, Pure Locations – initially launched from her home garage, in 2007, while juggling life as a new mum to sons Ben, now 16, and Louie, 12 – has more than 2000 homes on its books Australia-wide.
As for a big-budget reality TV show filming on the Sunshine Coast anytime soon?
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens soon, but I can’t talk about stuff that might be in the pipeline.”