Last year was an excellent year in terms of the film sector in Durban and by the looks of it 2013 is just as promising, according to Toni Monty, the acting chief executive officer at the Durban Film Office.

Some of the highlights for the office last year include Moonlighting Films Production’s Mary and Martha starring Hillary Swank and Zinebar Production’s Layla Fourie with Rayna Campbell.

Monty said last year that 20 TV series, five feature films and 18 documentaries – among other projects – were filmed in Durban.

“The region has celebrated significant progress over the past years with a steady increase in production activity and a well established approach to facilitating film production in the city, earning Durban a strong reputation as one of the most ‘film-friendly’ cities in the country.

“A wide range of projects are filmed in the city throughout the year, including local and international television commercials, feature-length Hollywood and Bollywood productions and documentaries.”

Prospects for 2013 also look positive. “Business in the global, national and local industry has slowed down as a result of the global economic slowdown, but Durban has been host to a number of film and commercial projects this year and we are expecting activity to pick up in 2013 with some interesting projects in the pipeline. In addition, Durban’s many advantages, including the favourable cost of filming in the city, may well make the city a first choice for film-makers watching their budgets.”

Asked about the contribution to the local economy through business deals struck in the industry for the region, Monty said: “The role of the Durban Film Office is to support the creation of an economically viable film sector in Durban. Our One Stop Information and Permit Office has so far facilitated more than 300 international feature film and commercial productions since 2003… We will also be launching… programmes in 2013 that will look at supporting emerging producers in Durban.”

Commenting on job creation and the impact that the film office has had, she said: “Facilitating film production (here) provides an opportunity to showcase our city’s locations and people to the global communities as well as employing local people and booking of hotel beds, caterers, vehicles, equipment etc.

“Statistics estimate that the industry employs 19 000 work days a year, (most of which is) fixed-term employment on a per-project basis.”