The Johannesburg Expo Centre has teamed up with a consortium of film practitioners to launch Studio Joburg, a new filmmaking hub in the south-west of the city.
Studio Joburg is based at the Joburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, which boasts extensive indoor and outdoor exhibition facilities backed by solid infrastructure and is host to a number of major events annually, including mega consumer exhibition the Rand Show.
"We believe that this new development will provide a top-class facility for the production of content within the film industry," JEC CEO Craig Newman said at the facility's media launch on 6 May 2016.
"It will also be an important development for the people of Soweto and the surrounding areas," Newman said, noting that the film value chain includes a variety of support services, such set building, painting, catering, wardrobe, design and lighting.
"Each of these support services means several job opportunities for people in the area," explains Newman. "In other words, this venture will mean skills development, job creation and investment into the south of Johannesburg."
The venture will be riding on the country's, and the province's, growing popularity as a co-production partner and a filmmaking destination, enhanced by the attractive incentives for filmmakers offered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) along with the support available from the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC).
According to Newman, discussions are currently taking place with a film school and a broadcaster to become anchor tenants at Studio Joburg. Overall, the facility would be developed for filmmaking in phases, with two halls already converted and ready for shooting.
The Studio Joburg team is headed up by Newman (chairman), Eddie Mbalo (managing director), Jeremy Nathan (director: production), Clarence Hamilton (director: development) and Simon Woodland (director: finance).
Mbalo, a former CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), brings more than 30 years' experience in film and television production to the venture. Speaking at the media launch, Mbalo said the Expo Centre was "the ideal location for an undertaking of this nature."
The massive venue is no stranger to film production, have served successfully as a venue for the shooting of Neill Blomkamp's futuristic thriller District 9, as well as TV series Rockville, a prison scene for BBC series Undercover, and a host of television commercials.
"In addition to the sheer size of the venue, it's extremely practical," Mbalo said. "There is an adequate power supply with access to plug points all over the venue and a sufficient water and ablution supply."
The Expo Centre's multipurpose facilities include more than 50 000 square metres of indoor space and double that in versatile outdoor space, as well as a multi-purpose arena with a capacity of up to 20 000.
It is accessible from all major highways, located 30 minutes from both OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport, and 15 minutes from a number hotels.
"We believe that Studio Joburg will become an important content and entertainment hub for Gauteng province," Mbalo said.