Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Film Making in Cape Town Costs Less Than in Australia, the UK and United States

Daniel Espinosa directing "Safe House" in Cape Town.

Film making in Cape Town, South Africa costs 20% less than in Australia and 30-40% less than in Europe or United States of America.

Of course, many people in Nigeria and most people outside the United States don't know what it means for a movie to top the U.S. box office on Super Bowl weekend.
It is not a small achievement and that is what Josh Trank's directorial debut Chronicle did in the first weekend of February 2012. The American science fiction thriller was set in Seattle, but was made in South Africa's Cape Town where low production costs are attracting filmmakers from Hollywood and other major film studios in the United States and Europe.

Chronicle cost only $12 million, but made over $126 million for 20th Century Fox, according to the CNN report by Robyn Curnow and Teo Kermeliotis on December 13, 2012.

"Fox was totally stunned by it," says Nico Dekker, chief executive of Cape Town Film Studios, the South African facility where Chronicle was primarily shot. "The $12 million film is looking like a $30 million or a $40 million film on the screen," he added excitedly. Cape Town has boosted some of the biggest box office blockbusters like Safe House starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, Dredd, Mary and Martha TV series, featuring Hilary Swank and the upcoming Australian post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max: Fury Road with home girl Charlize Theron, who is the first South African to win an Academy Award in a major acting category, Tom Hardy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley by Australian director George Miller.

Then this May, Hollywood came again with Michael Bay hired to produce Robert Louis Stevenson’s "Treasure Island" prequel Black Sails, the Starz Entertainment LLC television series to be filmed at the same Cape Town Film Studios and the production will run for 3-5 years, making it the largest film production ever made in South Africa so far. Of course Michael Bay is famous for his blockbusters Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001) and the Transformers series (2007-present) grossing over $3 billion world-wide.

"It's cheap for people to film here," said Toby Stephens, the British actor who plays the "Flint" in Black Sails.

Low production costs and favourable exchange rate are attracting major Hollywood studios with the South African government offering tax rebates of 25% to 35% of qualifying expenditure on films made within South Africa. But according to the Mail and Guardian newspaper, South Africa's film industry remains small globally, contributing less than 0.01% of the total GDP compared to India's Bollywood that made 112.4-billion rupees ($2.02-billion) in 2012, as documented in a March 7, 2013 report by KPMG and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In spite of the apparent lack of a cinema-going culture among black South Africans who make up 79% of the population, South Africa is still the biggest film industry in Africa at the moment with the largest number of screens operated by Ster-Kinekor Theatres, Nu Metro Cinema and other smaller cinema operators. And local film makers have been competing well globally with Gavin Hood's Tsotsi winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards in 2006. And with the cooperation and support of the Cape Film Commission (CFC), Cape Town will to continue to attract Hollywood and other major international filmmakers and creating thousands of jobs to boost the South African film industry.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima.
Michael Chima is a prize winning Nigerian writer and Publisher/CEO of International Digital Post Network Limited, the largest Nigerian online news and information media network, Founder of the annual Eko International Film Festival, Founder/CEO of Screen Outdoor Open Air Cinema and Executive Director of his Screen Naija One Village, One Cinema Project, the largest community cinema project in Africa. He is also the Publisher/Editor of Nollywood Mirror, the first and most circulated publication on the Nigerian film industry distributed by Amazon, over 27 active blogs and other publications.
 You can borrow his books for free on a Kindle device with Amazon Prime.

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