International film productions boost South African economy, skills, says DTI
24 February 2016
More international film production should be encouraged in South Africa to
strengthen the country's economy, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said at
an event to publicise a current US television production in the country, the historical
series Of Kings and Prophets.
Rob Davies at Of Kings & Prophets location, Stellenbosch. One of the
production funded by the dti. pic.twitter.com/OzNWwRDOrr
The rand-dollar exchange rate was a boon to foreign film production he said:
"It means they have a huge advantage; it just makes it much cheaper for them."
But the minister was
cautious to add that the training and experience for the local
film production workforce, covering everything from acting to production and behind
the scenes, was an immeasurable boost for the South African talent involved.
Service providers and other industries also benefit from the investments.
Since the introduction of its film incentive programme by the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2004, 20% of preproduction and production spending by
international film productions in South Africa had gone directly into the country and
its workforce, the department said even more if postproduction work (including
using local visual effects and editing companies) was completed in South Africa.
And the effects of this investment were being felt in all areas of the industry,
according to a 2012 baseline report by Deloitte.
It showed that the industry
achieved an economic multiplier of 2.89 for every rand spent in the industry,
R1.89 was generated within the local economy. In total, since 2004, R15-billion has
been invested in South Africa and its people.
Boosting South African talent
Film and television production added R5-billion to Cape Town's economy,
according to the city, a city of choice for local and foreign film makers. More
importantly, it added 35 000 new local jobs between 2011 and 2014. Productions
include the Leonard DiCaprio hit Blood Diamond, Safe
House starring Denzil Washington and, most recently, the acclaimed
Mad Max: Fury Road.
Johannesburg, not to be left out, has also enjoyed its fair share of Hollywood
filmmaking glitz and financial boost as the backdrop to hit films such as
District 9 and Chappie, a scene in the second
Avengers movie and locals hits such as Jerusalema and
Fanie Fourie's Lobola.
South African stories
Over the last five years, the local film industry telling original South Africa
stories for film and television for local and international markets has grown
exponentially. Directors, writers, actors and hands-on production staff are taking
the lessons learned from working on international productions and using these to
tell local stories and build the
In 2011 to 2013, the industry produced 25 films for theatre release, generating
11% of industry-wide box-office takings, or R98-million (about $6.4-million) of
During the first half of 2014, more than a dozen local films accounted for R33-
million of the R382-million total box office gross. These films covered diverse
genres and fortunes: action, drama, comedy, documentary and art house.
Successful movies such as Anant Singh's epic Long Walk to
Freedom, the Spud trilogy, numerous Afrikaans-language box
office hits and, most recently, the sleeper success of the romantic drama
Ayanda, have all benefited from the development of the local film
industry via large international input.
Of Kings and Prophets
Of Kings and Prophets, a production by the American Broadcasting
Corporation (ABC) said to rival the scope and success of other epics such as
Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, is currently
filming in Cape Town. It is officially, according to the DTI, the largest production to
be filmed in South Africa. Direct production spend by ABC is estimated at over
R450-million, with R391-million of that expenditure qualifying for a 20% rebate for
the South African government.
According to the DTI factsheet accompanying Davies' visit to the production,
estimated direct and indirect tax revenue for the local economy is estimated to be
Almost all of the crew on the production are South African, according to
covering everything from costume design to casting and set construction.
Sets interiors are in a Stellenbosch warehouse and exteriors are in
Durbanville are reputably some of the largest ever built in South Africa and were
co-ordinated by a full South African workforce, headed by production design veteran
Johnny Breedt. Breedt also worked on Long Walk To Freedom,
Hotel Rwanda and the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
the 600 to 850 crew members working on the series, 50% were from
"previously disadvantaged" groups, Davies said, including 26 South African trainees
and film graduates in 12 production departments. Their training was provided by the
local non-profit Film Industry Learner Mentorship (Film) programme and was
financed by the DTI.
A total of 829 local production vendors and service providers including
catering, manufacturing and hospitality assistance have been used by the
The series' co-executive producer, Chris Brancato, praised the work ethic of the
South African production team, highlighting the ethnic diversity of the crew,
particularly in fulfilling various high-skill roles something he called a rarity in
Speaking to Business Day, Brancato said the assistance from the
local industry and the government did not disappoint. Comparing the differences
between the American and South African counterparts, he said
film industry members working on the Of Kings production were
incredibly impressed with the work ethic and skills level South Africans had shown,
adding that it "is not a common response in Hollywood".
Another ABC production head, Gary French, reiterated the international film
community's enthusiasm for working in South Africa and with South Africa talent,
telling Business Day's Sue Blaine: "We couldn't have done it without
the South Africans who have come on to our show and become part of our family."
Thanks to more investment by international film productions in local skills and industry service providers, the South African TV and film industry has grown exponentially over the last 20 years and is expected to gain new heights in the next 20. (Image: MediaClub South Africa)