The scoop: South Africa offers producers “a world in one country,” with locations from desert to tropical to mountainous, from urban ghetto to slick modern city and traditional rural village. The country also boasts experienced English-speaking crews plus production and facilitation support from local film companies that have gained experience working on big-budget productions such as “Blood Diamond.”
Local production companies have established links with specialty service providers, such as camera and equipment rental businesses, across the country and beyond, making it easy to shoot practically anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa using South Africa as a base.
The stable exchange rate of around 7 rands to the dollar and 10 rands to the euro is favorable for both U.S. and European producers, who can also access funding through the Dept. of Trade and Industry’s Large Budget Film and Television Production Rebate Scheme.
Through the program, countries that have co-production treaties with South Africa (German, Canadian, Italian, U.K.) can qualify for a 25% rebate, and nontreaty productions can get a 15% rebate of their South African spend if 50% of principal photography is done in South Africa over a minimum of four weeks. Expenditure must be $3.5 million or more, and the rebate is capped at $1.5 million for a single production for both local and foreign films. However, for lower-budget producers, it is possible for one applicant to bundle three productions together over one year to reach the minimum expenditure required.
Bonus: Cape Town has waived all permit fees for public spaces, making it accessible for films on limited budgets.
Shot there: “Flashbacks of a Fool”; “The World Unseen”
Hot spot: Studio City, a one-stop facility, has opened 25 minutes from Cape Town Intl. Airport on a 649-acre site.