November 7, 2018

4 Reasons Budding Filmmakers Should Stay in Joburg

With its urban sprawl and diverse collection of vibrant and buzzing hotspots, Johannesburg’s a go-to city for any traveller. It’s especially stimulating and rewarding for those who are looking to get a foot in the door of the South African film industry.

Thanks to a variety of establishments, events and locations, the City of Gold has gained traction as a place of creative, cultural and aesthetic inspiration. We, along with Private Property, have found four specific reasons why hopeful filmmakers should make a move to Jozi.

The Bioscope

Located in downtown Johannesburg, The Bioscope is an independent cinema that’s committed to bringing a broad variety of films to local audiences, from classic Hollywood hits to experimental pieces and thought-provoking documentaries. It’s known for holding its own educational programmes, as well as regular events which showcase cinematic work from specific countries and genres.

In 2018 The Bioscope partnered with two nearby establishments–tech startup, New Reality, and events venue, The Birdhouse, to bring Joburgers The Late Night Arcade. The after-hours event incorporates both arcade and virtual reality games, as well as an outdoor cinema.

A visit to The Bioscope actually means being in close proximity to several of Jozi’s most inspirational cultural and historical sites. They include the POPArt Theatre, the Museum of African Design (the first of its kind in the continent), the Maboneng Precinct, the Market Theatre and the Apartheid Museum.


Johannesburg is the birthplace of AFDA, aka ‘The School of the Creative Economy’, the internationally renowned tertiary institution where film and television production, as well as live performance, are taught. It’s the perfect environment for young and hopeful filmmakers to immerse themselves in various aspects of the entertainment and media industries, and come out with a clear (or hopefully a clearer) idea of which career path they’d like to take.

Another major selling point of AFDA’s is its central location. Students or parents of students, who might be looking for property to rent in Johannesburg have a bevvy of trendy and comfortable suburbs surrounding the school to choose from. They include Auckland Park, Melville, Greenside, Parkview and Houghton Estate.

The Annual Jozi Film Festival

The Jozi Film Festival feels like the cherry on the cake that is a film fundi’s year-long experience of Johannesburg. Taking place towards the end of every year, the festival screens and awards both local and international cinematic fare, focusing on independent. Its schedule comprises feature films, documentaries, shorts and student productions. Maybe one of yours will be screened in the future.

The Jozi Film Festival opened in 2012 and has quickly become one of the major film festivals in the African subcontinent. It focuses mainly on independent cinema, thus giving festival attendees a taste of something they might not have come across on the mainstream circuit.

Locations, locations, locations

If you think you’re the only filmmaker who’s taken a chance on Jozi, then think again. The city and its surrounds have been used as filming locations for numerous productions. These include movies about South African history, such as 2011’s Winnie Mandela and 2013’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and inspired by that history, such as 2009’s District Nine. Johannesburg was also used as a location for 2004’s critically acclaimed Hotel Rwanda, the 2012 action flick Dredd, and the 2015 superhero movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was in a scene from the last of these films that Joburg’s CBD played a substantial role.

After watching these movies, you might like to visit exactly where they were filmed (if it’s possible), and stand in the same place as someone you wish to emulate. The fact that Jozi was and is being used as a location by international filmmakers is a testament to the visual appeal of the city. Once you’ve explored as much of it as you can, from its Jacaranda-lined suburbs to its energetic social hubs, you might end up choosing it as the location for your first film.