Locations Africa unveiled its plans this week at the Durban film fest to establish the first showcase for location shooting and film facilitation across the continent.
Headed by Azania Muendane, formerly of South Africa’s National Film & Video Foundation, and Martin Cuff, former head of the Assn. of Film Commissioners Intl., the company was established to create a “network of film practitioners and government entities that then begins to formalize…how filmmaking and facilitation (in Africa) is done,” says Muendane.
The process will kick into gear early next year with a meeting of film commissions and heads of industry from across Africa. The group will then push their agenda at Cannes.
“We really want to go to Cannes with a collective voice,” says Muendane, “and take a different approach to how Africa presents itself at Cannes.”
Cuff drew the comparison to the cooperation between European regional partners at Cannes, such as the Scandinavian or Balkan nations. “The long-term goal is to have…an African pavilion where African governments can base themselves,” he says, calling it an “opportunity for us to stake our claim on the global playing field and say, ‘We are here. We do talk with one voice.’”
So far government bodies are onboard from South Africa, Morocco, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius and Seychelles — countries in which governments are already allocating some “formal thought or budget” to film, according to Muendane. The goal is for those countries to be founding members of an Assn. of African Film Commissions, which can gather every year to discuss policy moves.
In October 2015 the group will host a locations expo as a “showcase for the international public as to what Africa really has to offer,” says Muendane.
“Our long-term goal is a pan-African understanding of collaboration and networking within the entire value chain of filmmaking,” she says. “There’s an underlying lack of awareness of the activity of film facilitation on the continent, and a lot of interest from around the world to shoot films here.”
“There’s a massive business opportunity that’s…waiting to happen,” says Cuff, in terms of “how we position the film and media industries as future drivers of economic growth.”
He notes that most of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African countries, and that the continent’s growing middle class will only continue to show a growing appetite for local content. That, in turn, will drive further development in the film and TV industries and boost capacity at the ground level.
“The opportunity then becomes to pull the various different segments of the industry together in Africa and begin…attracting more films to be made here,” he says.