South Africa aims to attract more foreign film productions

Its stunning beaches, jagged mountains and lush vineyards have long served as a backdrop for films, as well as TV adverts, and a string of successful big budget international productions have been filmed there including “Blood Diamond,” “Safe House,” “District 9” and Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus.” Hoping to increase the amount of productions filmed in South Africa, the delegates from KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZN), a province in South Africa and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), met with several key players to boost the country’s position as a preferred film-making destination. Touting tax credits and incentives for post-production, co-productions, editing and other services, delegates representing various regions of the country were recently in Los Angeles not only to attend the South African Music festival, but to attract foreign productions.

South African delgates

(L-r) South Africa’s consul general Cyril S. Ndaba, Carol Coetzee, Mmabatho Ramagoshi, Welcome Msomi and director Joe Brown

“South Africa’s provinces are unique and have a lot to offer. We are here to say that SA is a place to shoot for any location you can think of,” says Mmabatho Ramagoshi, Chairperson for the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). With a focus to not only draw filmmakers to the province, their goal was to also encourage and develop home grown talent in South Africa. “KZN is one of the most beautiful provinces with wildlife and mountains, so we can boast that KZN does have beautiful scenery and locations, but our focus is not just to develop film and television in the province,” says Welcome Msomi, Chairperson of the KZN Film Commission, “but to also look at encouraging aspiring young people in South Africa to work in every aspect of film and television.”

Welcome Msomi and SVP of Columbia Tristar Pictures DeVon Franklin

Welcome Msomi and SVP of Columbia Tristar Pictures DeVon Franklin 

With Nollywood’s (Nigeria’s film-making industry) popularity, South Africa plans to increase its own exposure and although it has succeeded at servicing filmmakers, foreign productions remain a priority. “There is a lot of production from the USA like ‘Safe House,’ ‘District 9’ getting money from the government in terms of rebates, but most of them now come through the back door. We are trying to encourage producers from the U.S. to lobby their government to have a treaty with South Africa.” With movies “Winnie” and “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” making their theatrical debut this year, the film officials are hoping to partner with prominent African Americans filmmakers to serve as role models for aspiring South African filmmakers and plan to return to further talks.

“One of the longer term objectives,” adds Carol Coetzee, CEO of the KZN Film Commission, “is to bring out more prominent African Americans into the South African film industry to inspire our own people back home in terms of how they can develop the industry.”

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa.

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