‘Film city’ planned for Cape Town

Area offers much to pic producers

JOHANNESBURG — The planned Cape Town mega film studio will come another step closer to reality in mid-August when the Western Cape provincial government announces its preferred private sector partner for the project.

The Cape Town area attracts the bulk of production activity in South Africa, with international producers increasingly attracted to shooting in the country because of the favorable exchange rate, variety of locations, good infrastructure and skilled local crew.

The provincial government, aware of the potential economic benefits to the region, has recognized that lack of film studio capacity has been a major constraint in the growth of the industry, particularly in attracting big-budget international productions.

In 2002 the government decided to throw its weight behind the establishment of a film city-style mega studio, in partnership with the private sector and industry. The Dept. of Economic Development and Tourism put out a call for proposals incorporating a film studio complex supported by a variety of related and commercial activities constituting a “film city” that could support large-scale production activity.

The Western Cape government said only eight of the 11 submissions had fulfilled the requirements, and those orgs will be asked to provide detailed business plans before the final selection is made.

Dates still uncertain

The department’s deputy direct Jayanthi Aniruth says the government is keen to see the initiative up and running as soon as possible but could not yet give any possible dates.

He says once the preferred partner is identified, government’s involvement would be kept to a minimum.

“It is not our role to run a film studio, and we are not necessarily going to take an equity stake in the studio,” he says. “We see our primary role as relating to the process involved — land and zoning assistance, providing bulk infrastructure and helping with access to finance. We would also try to facilitate and coordinate the environment in which the film industry operates.”

Public sector partners in the project are the Cape Town City Council, the Western Cape government, the Cape Film Commission and the national Dept. of Trade and Industry.

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