Five months after its launch, the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission is looking to position the coastal province alongside more established South African industry hubs.
While Western Cape (Cape Town) and Gauteng (Johannesburg) provinces are home to both vibrant local filmmaking communities and established production services companies for foreign shoots, KZN’s industry remains relatively underdeveloped.
“We’ve got some pockets of activity, but we don’t have the volumes that the other regions have,” says KZN Film Commission CEO Carol Coetzee. “And that’s sort of our strategy, to start building that solid base.”
The commission’s first project was DIFF opener “Hard to Get,” which it helped with marketing and distribution support.
A bigger wave of support will come from a recently announced R15 million ($1.4 million) film fund for development, production, post-production, distribution and marketing, with about 60% of that fund earmarked for local filmmakers to help stimulate the industry in KZN, of which Durban is the capital.
The first round of funding attracted 70 applicants, according to Coetzee, who added that the large number of applications from productions outside of KZN reflects the strong interest South African bizzers have in the region. “They’re tired of shooting the same scenes in Cape Town,” she says.
The commission has also been actively trying to lure foreign shoots to the sun-splashed coastal region. Coetzee says interest in KZN was high during recent visits to Hollywood, Cannes and Hong Kong, and Blair Underwood arriving at the end of the month to scout locations.
Established partnerships with local hotels and South African Airways will help foreign shoots cut production costs, and Coetzee says the commission is in discussions with the South African government to look at other ways to incentivize shooting in the region.
“It’s still early days,” she says.