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While cameras are yet to roll on foreign productions lensing in South Africa — with international flights into the country still banned — production of local soap operas and drama series got a restart in May. That’s given the industry time to test its COVID-19 safety protocols before foreign productions return to the country, which is expected to begin sometime this month.

Safety measures include COVID-19 screenings and mandatory mask usage for all personnel on set; rigorous social-distancing enforcement; and regular dialogue with coronavirus compliance officers and health and safety teams. Leading production services companies, such as Cape Town’s Moonlighting Films, have also bolstered their measures to conform with the protocols observed by Hollywood trade unions, such as SAG and the DGA.

South Africa offers foreign productions a 25% rebate on all qualifying local spend, rising to 30% if some post-production is done in the country using a Black-owned company. The rebate for South African co-productions starts at 35% on all qualifying local spend, with an additional 5% available to productions that meet certain requirements for hiring Black department heads and procuring from Black-owned service companies. Both incentives are capped at 50 million rand ($2.9 million). For productions that meet the requirements for the emerging Black filmmakers incentive, the rebate rises to 50%. Details can be found on the Dept. of Trade and Industry’s website (thedtic.gov.za).

Filming in and around Cape Town can be facilitated by Wesgro (wesgro.co.za), the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and Film Cape Town (film.investcapetown.com), a joint initiative between the city government and the local film industry.

The Gauteng Film Commission (gautengfilm.org.za) is the gateway to filming in South Africa’s most populous province, including Johannesburg. The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (kznfilm.co.za) oversees production in Durban and the coastal region around it.

“I think that post COVID, we will see more efficiency in terms of working methodologies such as smaller, more efficient crews, more precise planning. And I think that the demand is going to be there. Even though there are freelancers out of work right now, I feel like that has great potential to turn around—there could be floodgates opening. Things are gearing up. We are getting more and more calls right now. And if people are working smarter, one can just achieve more,” says Genevieve Hofmeyr, producer/managing director of Moonlighting Films.

For more information:

35% rebate on all qualifying local spend, that can rise to 40% with an addition 5% rebate available if productions meet requirements for hiring Black department heads and procuring from Black-owned service companies.

Web: thedtic.gov.za

Facilitators: Wesgro, official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency of Cape Town and the Western Cape

Web: wesgro.co.za

Film Cape Town, a joint initiative between the city government and the local film industry

Web: film.investcapetown.com

Gauteng Film Commission

Web: gautengfilm.org.za

KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission

Web: kznfilm.co.za

Pictured: On the set of Showmax’s “Life With Kelly Khumalo.”