You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tax rebates, new studios pull production south

Scout & About: South Africa 2012

South Africa has long long been a magnet for foreign productions, but the recent B.O. success of Universal’s “Safe House,” filmed with Cape Town-based Moonlighting Films, and Fox’s “Chronicle,” shot with Film Afrika Worldwide, has raised the country’s profile even higher.

Skilled crews, varied locations, a favorable exchange rate, world-class studio facilities, and a competitive range of incentives and rebates have led to growing demand, according to a number of South African producers.

David Wicht, CEO of Film Afrika, which recently opened an office in L.A., reported “an enormous interest in South Africa” at the recently wrapped Locations Expo and Variety BRIC Summit.

With a long history in the business, the country’s top production service companies have considerable experience servicing big-budget foreign productions. Kalahari, Film Afrika, Moonlighting, Two Ocean Productions, Spier Films, DO Productions, Out of Africa and ZenHQ are also adept at tapping into incentives offered by the Dept. of Trade and Industry.

Popular on Variety

South Africa offers aggressive incentives, including a 35% rebate on the first 6 million rands ($700,000) of qualifying South African spend and 25% on the remainder. The country’s fund for foreign productions offers 20% on qualifying spend and, now for the first time, up to an additional 5% for post-production work done in South Africa. There is no cap on any of the claims.

To qualify, foreign films, documentaries, animation and TV projects must shoot for at least four weeks and complete half their principal photography in South Africa, spending a minimum of $1.4 million. At least two weeks of post-production work must be done in South Africa to qualify for the post-prod rebate, spending at least $180,000. Co-productions must shoot for at least two weeks and complete half their principal photography in South Africa, spending at least $300,000.

Government continues to play a strong supporting role, having removed the cap on rebates last year. A separate incentive from one of the regional film commissions is reportedly in the works. The recently introduced post-production incentive should also be a shot in the arm for visual-effects houses such as Refinery, Searle Street Post, BlackGinger, and local producer/vfx artist Simon Hansen, who handled effects for “Chronicle.”

Last year’s opening of Cape Town Film Studios, which was used in the production of “Chronicle” and Lionsgate’s forthcoming “Dredd,” has given South Africa an added dimension. The $40 million complex, located a short drive from Cape Town, is the first Hollywood-style studio on the continent, with four state-of-the-art sound stages and plans to build a number of permanent sets in the coming months, according to CEO Nico Dekker.

Local filmmakers continue to enjoy a production boom that has led to a record number of films in recent years, from Oscar entry “Life, Above All” to domestic success stories like romantic comedies “Material” and “Semi-Soet.”

The strong showing in Durban this year, which includes 16 South African features across a variety of genres, reflects the growing strength, diversity, and global reach of local productions. Despite coin from the Industrial Development Corp. and a Dept. of Trade and Industry rebate, though, funding remains a challenge, with limited investment from the private sector.

Fest Traveler: Durban International Film Festival / Scout & About: South Africa
Rich soil for new voices | Tax rebates, new studios pull production south | Biz returns to the boom times of 2009

More Scene

  • Oscar Menu to Be Almost All

    Oscar Menu to Be Almost All Plant-Based

    The Oscars are getting greener. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that it will be offering entirely plant-based menus at today’s Oscar Nominees Luncheon and then in the Dolby Theatre lobbies prior to the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9. The post-ceremony Governors Ball will be 70% plant-based, and 30% [...]

  • 'Little America' Team on Creating Immigration

    'Little America' Team on Creating the Immigration Anthology Series for Apple TV Plus

    Respect and authenticity were the key words at the screening of the new Apple TV Plus series “Little America” on Thursday in Los Angeles. Produced by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon and inspired by true stories featured in Epic Magazine, “Little America” is an anthology series focused on immigration. For executive producer Sian Heder, [...]

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival - Egyptian

    Sundance 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Heading to Park City? From intimate dinners and cocktail parties to late night bashes (that end just in time to head to brunch), there’s plenty to keep this year’s film festival attendees out of the cold between screenings. Here is Variety’s ultimate party guide for Sundance 2020:  Thursday, Jan. 23 “Summertime” Premiere Party Lyft Lounge, 8-11 [...]


    Jenna Andrews Hosts Zhavia Ward, Lennon Stella at Jed Foundation Fundraiser

    Jenna Andrews, the Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and executive, hosted a pre-Grammy event in partnership with The Jed Foundation at Alice and Olivia in West Hollywood on Tuesday.  The non-profit Jed is dedicated to protecting emotional health and preventing suicide. The foundation has partnered with high schools and colleges in order to “strengthen mental health, [...]

  • Coldplay - Chris Martin

    Grammys 2020: The Ultimate Party Guide

    Let the music play, indeed. The Grammys are just days away and dozens of parties are happening every night this week leading up to the big day, Sunday, Jan. 26. And the partying continues with several bashes following the ceremony. (All events listed are by invitation only unless marked otherwise; this list is being updated [...]

  • Jared Harris arrives at the 26th

    No, Jared Harris is Not Playing Doctor Octopus in Marvel's 'Morbius'

    The first-ever trailer for Marvel and Sony’s next Spider-man spinoff “Morbius” left comic book fans reeling with theories. While the plight of the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) – a scientist dying of a rare blood disease who accidentally turns himself into a vampire – seemed ripped right out of the comics, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content