Cape Town’s busy film season has come to an end for another year with industry stakeholders reflecting on the successes and challenges of filming in the Mother City which is one of the World’s most acclaimed film locations.
A few years ago there was concern that Cape Town was pricing itself out of the competitive international market and that its pristine locations were largely inaccessible to the industry. There were also complaints about the City’s Film Office and the processes involved in making applications for permits.
Two prominent industry associations – the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa (CPA) and the South African Association of Stills Producers (SAASP) – whose sectors apply for approximately 90% of all permits issued by the City – were the most vocal calling on the City to immediately address the problem or put the industry at risk. Following a successful meeting with Mayor Patricia de Lille in late 2011 and engagement with City officials, the CPA and SAASP began a process of constructive engagement with the City which has proved invaluable in resolving many of the hurdles faced by production companies wanting to film in Cape Town.
The City’s on-line booking system, which was once onerous to use, has been significantly streamlined to ensure ease of use and accountability. Co-operation and more effective communication between the Film Office and the industry has led to a greater understanding of the requirements of all parties and pre-empted problems before they have escalated to unacceptable levels. The Associations have also increased their engagement with City line departments and Councillors to make a case for filming in the City and this has been met with a pro-active response which has helped considerably in facilitating the process.
There are, of course, still several challenges which need to be addressed and Cape Town still has highly rigorous regulations when it comes to filming however the CPA and SAASP report that the commitment shown by the City to supporting the industry is significant and the ability to interface directly with politicians, city officials and the Film Office management has been a key factor in the turnaround.
The two associations are now anticipating the roll out of the City’s new Events & Filming Policy and have formed a task team to work closely with the City to formulate new policies and procedures for filming and are optimistic that this will lead to further improvements down the line. They also continue to work closely with the Western Cape Provincial Government to facilitate access to provincial locations which are also very sought after by international filmmakers.
SAASP and the CPA have also recently formed a new NPC – The Film Industry Fund – which aims to raise funds to give back to communities in which filming takes place. They see this as an important step to reversing public perceptions that the film industry utilizes locations at the cost of the city’s residents and has an uncaring approach. The Fund should be in place by the beginning of the next season and will hopefully be in a position to make limited contributions to community projects by the end of 2013. ….ENDS
Press release issued by the Commercial Producers Association of South Africa – http://www.cpasa.tv – and the South African Association of Stills Producers – http://www.saasp.co.za