26 January 2018

Africa: Skyrink Studios Wants to Become South Africa's First Independent Black-Owned Film and TV Studio Facilities in Johannesburg

London — A major new production facility has opened in Johannesburg and it's setting out to become South Africa's first independent Black-owned Film and TV studio facilities. Russell Southwood spoke to Miles Britton-Masekela, Executive Director about how it came about and what's planned.

With Government investment, Skyrink Studios wants to become a major production and post-production facility. Russell Southwood spoke to Miles Britton-Masekela about what's on offer and the company's ambitions.

The team behind Skyrink Studios are Frank Mohapi, Marvin Mathibe and Miles Britton-Maekela, who are also its own owners Frank is described as having "massive experience in government projects and initiatives projects place him as a sublime negotiator and deal-maker".

The idea for the studios came about from their collective experience of trying to book studios for their work:"It's been a pain getting availability for studios. Everybody is booked, especially those with reliable equipment."

The idea was to find somewhere in the cheaper downtown area and work with a property developer to bring the project about:"Through that process we stumbled on the old ice skating rink in the Carlton Centre and thought to ourselves maybe something can happen here."

The team has raised R220 million from the Industrial Development Corporation (R180 million), the National Empowerment Fund (R40 million) and TRANSNET and is working with a range of partners including Gauteng Growth Development Agency, the City of Johannesburg along with government institutions like the Department of Trade & Industry, (MEC of Economic Development), National Film Foundation & Gauteng Film Foundation.

"It's a huge undertaking and TRANSNET is obviously a key party for getting the building for the operation so altogether the value of the project is R300 million. We underestimated the size of the project but it was ready and built in 6 months." It opened in April 2017 so is less than a year old. The building is part of the City's creative corridor that also has the presence of music studios nearby.

The facility offers 6 studios from 290 sq metres to 1,300 sq metres that are all "digitally fed" at 500 mbps from control and sound rooms. Each studio has been kitted out with LED lighting, high-definition facilities and three cameras. ABSA has used one of the studies to record its annual hackathon, an event with almost 400 people. There has also been dramedy from Majakathata Garedumele:"There is also a long-form telenovelas that I can't talk about but that we'll be announcing early this year... .We'll be fully booked from the New Year."

"There is also a massive space on the ground floor for production offices and there will be a whole service entity providing production support services like wardrobe and make-up and "places to chill for (the) talent." Skyrink is also looking for international work and has talked to a number of independent international producers. The space on the ground floor will also be used for post-production suites.

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