No Longer Exotic, South Africa Attracts More Productions

Salvation

While Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” rampaged through the streets of Johannesburg in March, leaving cinematic destruction and traffic snarl-ups in its wake, South Africa’s booming filming locations industry couldn’t be in better shape.

Just weeks after the “Avengers” crew shipped off to Italy to continue lensing the latest installment of the comicbook franchise, Showtime announced that season four of “Homeland” would begin production in June in Cape Town. Kristian Levring’s “The Salvation,” which will world premiere in Cannes’ Midnight Screenings, lensed in South Africa last year.

“We need to get over the fact that South Africa is not an exotic place anymore,” says David Wicht of co-production and production services company Film Afrika.

Skilled, English-speaking crews, varied locations, a favorable exchange rate, world-class studio facilities, and a competitive range of incentives and rebates have made South Africa an attractive bet for foreign shoots. Experienced production service companies like Kalahari, Film Afrika, Moonlighting, Two Ocean Productions, Spier Films, DO Productions, Out of Africa and ZenHQ have a strong track record servicing foreign productions, and are also adept at tapping into incentives offered by the Dept. of Trade and Industry.

South Africa offers aggressive incentives, starting with a 20% cash rebate on all local spend and rising to 25% if some post-production is done in the country. A formal treaty co-production qualifies for a 35% rebate on the first 6 million rands ($562,500) of qualifying South African spend and 25% on the remainder.

Bizzers are hopeful that a forthcoming co-production treaty with Brazil will help the industry tap into South America’s biggest market, while talks of a new studio space in Durban would help take some of the pressure off of Cape Town Film Studios, which carries a heavy load with production of Michael Bay’s “Black Sails,” and Waterfront Studios, which is handling Syfy’s “Dominion.” A foreign cast incentive reportedly in the works would also be an attractive incentive bait to lure more blockbusters.

“There’s definitely room for growth,” says Michael Auret of Spier Films.

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