Changes to South Africa’s incentive schemes for foreign film and television hold the promise of a boost to Cape Town’s burgeoning film industry, with local film specialists welcoming moves to make the country a more competitive destination.
In addition, they say, a fillip for the film industry will have many positive spin-offs, including for industries such as catering, tourism and even insurance.
The recent amendments made by the national Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and aimed at the foreign film and television industry, offer incentives that include government rebates.
Sithembile Tantsi, the DTI deputy director in charge of the rebates, explained that foreign film-makers could get back as much as 20 percent of their total qualifying amount spent in SA to produce their movie.
Denis Lillie, chief executive of the Cape Film Commission (CFC), confirmed that the incentives would have a positive effect on the local industry by encouraging more films to be made here.
But he warned that stiff international competition remained, including that even more attractive incentives were being offered by other countries and cities.
Lillie revealed however that the local film industry had recently received an extra boost, thanks to a new film treaty signed with Ireland. This would result in a number of Irish producers contacting local studios and production companies for possible partnerships.
He added that he had also received inquiries about projects worth more than $350 million (R3 billion) at the recent Cannes Film Festival. These had come from US and British film-makers keen to make movies and documentaries in South Africa.
“The challenge we now face lies with the capacity within the industry to address this potential influx of opportunities. The CFC is currently working with the government institutions to address the capacity issue,” Lillie said.
Commenting on the new initiatives, Tantsi pointed out that an added benefit to the local industry was the opportunity to expose local talent.
“International film-makers will have the chance to transfer their skills while working with South African performers. It will also create awareness and promote South Africa as a destination for the production of films, and there will be additional jobs created in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”
Clive Shelver, managing director of Compass Insurance, specialist film and entertainment underwriters, said local insurance firms would benefit by generating unique policies that are suited to local weather conditions.
He said: “This recognition is likely to have a positive impact on job creation, as more filming companies and their teams of people visit South Africa to reap the benefits of filming in a unique location that provides a variety of settings in one country, at low production costs and good exchange rates.”
Lillie added that although Cape Town was already hosting high numbers of foreign film producers, there were still several aspects that could be utilised to ensure even greater success.
He said: “Much of the filming that is done in Cape Town is seasonal, but the utilisation of Cape Town Film Studios and Waterfront Studios helps because of the controlled environment and green-screen activity.
“We must also not overlook our thriving animation industry which has strong growth potential and an opportunity for further job creation.”