Following Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies' visit to Hollywood last week, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will be leading a delegation of South African film makers to Los Angeles to engage with the major studios, the minister announced on Tuesday.
Briefing reporters in Pretoria, Davies said his visit had sought to strengthen ties between South Africa's film industry and studios including 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Sony, NBC Universal and Disney, and to profile the country as a location of choice for films from the US.
He said all the studios had been "extremely positive" about their experiences of shooting productions in South Africa, including the environment, local production crews, and interactions with the DTI on its film incentive programme.
SA film industry 'making significant progress'
Davies said South Africa's film industry had in recent years made significant progress across the board, including in the hosting of foreign films "which are using South African technicians, camera crews, actors, film stages, locations, as well as post-production services like animation capacities".
The Cape Town Film Studio, built in 2009 with support from the government, is widely recognised as a world-class facility, Davies noted, adding that a further R6-million was made available in 2012 for the construction of a water tank facility that is currently being used for the blockbuster TV production Black Sails, which is currently airing in the US.
"To date, more than 10 productions, including Safe House, Chronicle, Judge Dredd and The Borrowers, have utilized the studio facilities, creating in excess of 30 000 job opportunities."
Smaller productions to benefit from incentive scheme
Davies also announced that the threshold for film makers to qualify for the DTI's incentive scheme would be lowered from R10-million to R500 000, in order to enable smaller entrants to break into the industry.
In addition, last month the DTI, together with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Film and Video Foundation, launched a new, R90-million Emerging Black Filmmakers Fund.
Each year for the next three years, the fund will bankroll the full R5-million production and marketing budget of six qualifying feature films - movies that are both directed and produced by black South Africans, or in which a black producer owns at least 51% of the film's production company.
Davies said that improvements made in 2008 to the DTI's rebate scheme - the scheme was first introduced in 2004 - had resulted in the number of productions shot and produced in South Africa growing from 49 to 398 projects.
"Of the 398 projects, 256 were South African productions, 77 co-productions and 65 foreign productions, which in total led to the generation of total qualifying South African production expenditure of R8-billion, with the incentive pay-out of R2-billion."
This growth was a clear indication of the potential of the industry, Davies said.
According to a study published by the National Film and Video Foundation last year, the film sector contributes R3.5-billion to South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP), while providing employment for more than 25 000 people.