Cape Town would have a full film industry that was thriving just like Hollywood if the country did not have inequality and transformation issues in the industry, the Independent Directors Association Africa (IDAA) said yesterday.
The chairperson of non-profit organisatio,n Andile Sinqoto, said Cape Town would be the hub of everything, because the best production services companies were based in the city.
"These challenges affect our economy because some people do not want to come and shoot in South Africa. They only come to shoot here because they have to. If Zimbabwe had similar services and locations as South Africa, they would rather go to that country.
They can't because South Africa is the hub and our rates are cheaper here than anywhere in the world. It seems they come here because they are forced to do so," Sinqoto said.
The IDAA was established last year to implement policies and programmes for the transformation, equality, economic, cultural, and educational development and growth of film and TV directors and DOPs and below the line crew members in South Africa regardless of gender and colour.
Sinqoto, who says he has been in the industry for about two decades, said he knew of a few producers who were supposed to shoot in South Africa, but would no longer come to the country.
"Our film industry would be measuring up to Hollywood if the working conditions were not bad in South Africa. The de-humanising of crew and underpaying them on set. When internationals come to South Africa, they come with their assistants. An HOD of a department in Cape Town gets less than the assistant of an international. It does not just happen in Cape Town, but also happens on a national scale," he said.
According to the IDAA, even people who worked in Hollywood conceded that South Africa had the best services in the world when it comes to the film industry.
The country also has the best crew, locations and production services in the world, he said.
Sinqoto said that many people working in the industry have died due to the long hours. People would work 18 hours and be expected to wake up in the next 4 hours. He said that most film projects done recently often had accidents due to the long hours and bad working conditions.
"I cannot even take a day off work because when I come back tomorrow, someone else might have replaced me. I have signed the contract, so I cannot run anywhere because producers set up these rules," he said.
The IDAA said this had affected the local industry so badly because there were now many people who have left the film industry and ventured into other businesses.
"They are amazing crew members, producers and directors. They left simply because they cannot take it anymore."
He said the industry had lost many people who had died or opted to leavesince he entered the industry around 2006.
"People are leaving the South African film industry to find better opportunities overseas. Here it is bad. Some are leaving the film industry and starting other businesses because they cannot deal with the conditions in this sector locally."
Sinqoto urged more industry stakeholders and private stakeholders to join them on this journey so they could make the industry a safe and healthy place for local crew members to work in.
He said they were frustrated by the lack of urgency by the National Film and Video Foundation(NFVF) and the Department of Employment and Labour after waiting for a long time now to discuss resolutions to the issues the organisation was raising.
"It's really sad to see the NFVF and Department of Employment and Labour not taking interest in helping resolve the industry issues that have to do with our crew members who put their lives on the line for the economy of our industry and country. Even some of our industry crew members are turning a blind eye to these issues that they know have been going on for decades."
According to the NFVF, latest research showed the industry had excellent potential for growth, provided direct and indirect employment to different sectors of the economy, contributed around R3.5-billion a year to the country’s economy and created more than 25 000 jobs with an economic multiplier of 2.89.