South African filmmakers on arrival in Los Angeles for the American Film Market. Photo: Supplied

CAPE TOWN – The South African film sprang into action on Monday undertaking a trip to the US to participate in the American Film Market (AFM) which opened in Los Angeles today.

The group of South African filmmakers is on an Outward Film and Television Investment Mission  that was organised and funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) aimed at opening up markets for the South African film and television productions, securing partnerships for co-productions, and positioning the South African film industry as a filmmaking destination. 

The AFM – which is regarded as the world’s largest business market – is the world’s largest motion picture business event with more than 7 000 industry leaders converging in Santa Monica for days of deal-making, screenings, conferences, networking and parties. 

According to the AFM website participants come from more than 80 countries and include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Bulelani Magwanishe, who left for the US on Wednesday to lead a group, said the mission was part of the dti’s efforts to attract foreign investment into the South African film and television sector, and to promote South Africa among international film studios as a favourite film shooting destination. 

Magwanishe said the mission is part of the dti’s concerted efforts aimed at opening up markets for the South African film and television productions, securing partnerships for co-productions, and positioning the South African film industry as an filmmaking destination and a production partner.

Creating job opportunities

“As a department, we would like to see the film and television production industry increasing its contribution in creating job opportunities and growing the economy of the country. To this end, we are on a continuous and strategic mission to market South Africa internationally as a preferred and attractive filmmaking destination as well as a viable co-production partner. 

“We also engage in efforts to find new markets for the distribution of South African feature films, documentaries and television productions and to urge big international studios to shoot their films on location in South Africa,” says Magwanishe.

The dti said in addition to attending numerous conferences, workshops, screenings, networking sessions, presentations and exhibitions, the filmmakers would also be visiting various prominent US studios and production houses such as NBC, Sony and Disney.

Wandile Molebatsi of Coal Stove Productions said: “We are looking forward to interacting with sales agents and distributors with the aim of raising finance our projects that we are hoping to secure presale commitments for.  In addition, the market provides a perfect platform for networking with various stakeholders that are involved in filmmaking and convince them to bring their dollars to South Africa.” 

Free State film producer, Pheello Mochele said his main objective for travelling to the US was to secure foreign investment into the four projects that his company, Naledi M Holdings, was working on. 

“We are optimistic that we will be able to market our projects successfully and impress potential investors to invest in the projects which comprise of three feature films and a television series. We will also be targeting international film distributors with the aim of partnering with them for the distribution of our films,” said Mochele.