Cape Town - The move of the winter “Love Island” season –a winter-time continuation of the popular UK reality television series Love Island – from filming in Constantia to Franschhoek has highlighted safety concerns for film and television production crews.
This after UK tabloids reported that the show’s production had been moved to the plush Boland town over fears that its crew and stars could be “kidnapped” and exposed to other crime due to proximity to the Cape Flats.
In recent months, kidnappings and extortion have dominated the news, with children and adults held captive for ransom.
The show sees good-looking contestants locked into a luxury property and competing for R500 000 for each person in the “winning” couple. The show, when filming in South Africa, is touted as its winter edition due to it airing during the UK’s winter season.
ITV Studios, which produces the franchise, was contacted for comment, but declined.
According to reports, “Love Island” has put in place “extreme measures” and has hired armed guards to protect its contestants and crews.
The upcoming 9th season of the show is now being filmed at the high-security Ludus Magnus Villa at a cost of nearly R500 000 a day.
There is reportedly a hotline to the local police station and private armed response companies and armed escorts for the production crew.
Julie van Damme Lagoe, founder of film production company Euroconnection Film and Photography, said the biggest challenge when it came to filming in Cape Town was the issue of homelessness.
“Our mayor knows our biggest problem is the vagrants and hopefully he will come with a plan as we are no longer safe to shoot freely in our streets and in our public places.
“Needles, human faeces, child glue users, aggressive behaviour, illegal structures. The list goes on and on and on. Daily muggings, assaults, attacks …
“We need the City to clean up the mess and rehouse the homeless, and remove them from the public places, and shelter them in shelters. It’s all politically driven, so it’s a nightmare to deal with.”
Gasan Sallies, founder of Kanala Productions which predominantly films in Cape Town, said: “With regards to my experience and filming in Cape Town, we’ve never really experienced any major threats or any major concerns with regards to safety. Because with every production, you’re required to have security.”
“With the productions, we make sure that we have security, security that guards the equipment van, security that watches over everything in general, and that’s a basic rule on any production set,” he said.
With the increase in crime in the city, safety has been of concern, especially while filming on the streets.
“Security measures always have to be put in place. You budget for that. You budget for security, for the safety, and to make sure your crew and cast are feeling safe. The environment on set has to be that way, people have to feel safe because that makes the production so much easier,” Sallies said.
However he mentioned that his sister, Muneera Sallies, had experienced theft of equipment while filming in Robertson, in the Western Cape.
The person had tried to resell the equipment to one of the crew members without knowing who he was selling it to.
Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith said the City did not keep statistics on attacks on crews.
“Cape Town is competing with a number of other very desirable locations around the globe to attract international film productions.
“While the most recent film permit numbers show an increase compared to the height of the pandemic, they are still lower than pre-Covid- 19 numbers when the Film Permit Office (FPO) averaged around 8 000 permits annually,” he said.
Smith said some of the most sought after locations included roads, particularly in the CBD, the cut-off freeway, and beaches.
“Peak season for filming is between October and March. Pre-Covid the FPO issued 5 874 permits during the period (2018/19), and last year (2021/22) the FPO issued 2 480 permits. The 2021/22 figures are an increase from 2020/21 and we will only be able to advise on the 2022/23 figures at the end of March 2023.”