Boom time for SA film industry

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Watch out Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood – South Africa’s film industry is growing in leaps and bounds.In the past financial year alone the industry has grossed R5.4 billion.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) – a body tasked by the government to ensure equitable growth of South Africa’s film and video industry, has just released findings on a four-year Economic Impact Assessment study as a follow-on to the baseline study released in 2013.

The study showed that in 2013 the industry contributed R3.5bn to the country’s economy and over the past four years it had raised the level of production by approximately R12.2bn.

Chief executive Zama Mkosi said there were reasons to “celebrate” as a result of the growth because the movie business needed support if it was to survive.

“Since 2013 there’ s been an increase in investment into the industry by the private sector and a lesser involvement by the public sector. We can only hope the sector will be self-sufficient to ensure sustainability in future,” she said.

The study also showed that film productions were based in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with little to no income-generating activity in the Northern Cape, Free State, North West and Mpumalanga.

In the Western Cape, the Cape Town city centre remained one of the most popular locations preferred by production companies, with major international and local productions being drawn by the wide range of locations, services and studios.

Cape Town Film Studios chief executive Nico Dekker said their studios were highly regarded by international productions as the leading studio in a “developing world”.

Productions hosted by the studio over the past six-and-a-half years have created more than 70 000 jobs for locals.

“The studio has changed the landscape of film-making. We have been innovative and some local people have been trained under the guidance of international people.

“Now we get enquiries from around the world, including Europe and Asia, and yet they were a bit sceptical at the beginning.

“We have the ability to ignite people’s passion,” Dekker said.

According to Wesgro’s Film and Media Promotion unit, films and television series shot on location included: The Dark Tower, Tomb Raider, The Giver, Chronicle, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Black Sails and Homeland (Season 4).

The Cape Town Film Permit Office, which is responsible for issuing permits to shoot in public spaces, said that in 2015 11 578 locations were booked with 7 358 location permits issued.

The difference in the figures is due production companies making the final choice on the venues for their productions.

The permit office said the highest number of permits issued were for micro-shoots, followed by commercial productions then still photography shoots.

Permits were also granted for made-for-television-films and productions, as well as for television series.

Feature film productions however, tended to make use of studio facilities.

The Cape Town Film Office said from July 2016 to March, 6 084 permits were issued.

Wesgro and the City of Cape Town have commissioned a value chain baseline study on the Cape’s film industry whose insights into the local trends and economic impact will be released later this year.

International film production companies that have made use of the Cape include 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers.

Home-grown companies include Kalahari Pictures, Moonlighting Films, Film Afrika and Two Oceans Productions.

The NFVF study also recommended that the industry focus on transformation and highlighted the need for creating a skills-development programme geared toward young black film-makers.

Mkosi said: “There is a strong need for transformation in our industry.

“If it is to continue with the same growth trajectory that has been witnessed it should focus on transformation. Gender representation in particular remains low.

“The number of black female-owned companies has remained stagnant.

“While this not only affects representation in terms of the content, it stands to say that economically, previously disadvantaged individuals are still not well-represented within the film and television sector,” said Mkosi.


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