Johannesburg lures productions

Town promotes itself as 'film-friendly zone'

JOHANNESBURG — The inner city area of Newtown in Johannesburg — used as a location in Gavin Hood’s Oscar-nommed “Tsotsi” — is being promoted as a “film-friendly zone” by the Newtown Management District and Gauteng Film Commission.

The area is home to the world-famous Market Theater.

The film-friendly zone campaign will offer producers free assistance and support with securing suitable locations, reduced location fees, free unit parking in designated areas, logistical support and location liaison, said Kate Shand, marketing manager for the NMD.

Shand said local businesses and property owners are being made aware of the economic value of film to the area, in particular the direct benefits to them of allowing productions easy access to properties and amenities.

Newtown, once a popular hotspot for trendy theatergoers and music lovers, went into decline during the 1990s. But a few years ago, the city of Johannesburg started an investment drive to regenerate the area.

The GFC said Newtown’s gritty, industrial locations and landmarks such as the Market Theater and Nelson Mandela Bridge are already a drawcard for filmmakers — in addition to “Tsotsi,” Newtown has been used for Ralph Ziman’s “Jerusalema” and e.tv soap “Scandal.”