The Dreamworld Film City, launched on Monday, 14 August, was presided over by Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool, Minister for Environmental, Planning and Economic Development, Tasneem Essop and Executive Mayor Helen Zille. Dignitaries, industry members and the media braved the pouring rain to attend the event held under the protection of a big marquee on the Dreamworld site near Faure in Cape Town.
At the launch it was also announced that a Heads of Agreement has been signed between Dreamworld Film City and Wesgro, the investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape. This R30-million investment secures Wesgo a 10% stake in Dreamworld and will ignite the first phase of the development which will see delivery of this flagship studio.
Says Chairman of Dreamworld Film City, Anant Singh, “We are delighted that we have now finalized the participation of Wesgro. Their investment is a show of confidence in Dreamworld and our business model. We look forward to proceeding with the development of a world class film studio complex that will increase our competitiveness in the international film industry.”
Executive Mayor, Helen Zille confirmed the City of Cape Town’s support “We are fully committed to helping to drive this project through. The South African Film industry has the potential to make a major international breakthrough; we just need to make the right strategic decisions in order to ride the wave. Supporting the studios is one such decision.”
Premier Ebrahim Rasool reiterated the importance of Dreamworld’s location in Faure, “We saw immediate footprints for growth, development and for sharing the benefits of Dreamworld when the decision was made to have Dreamworld built between Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Eerste River and Macassar. While there were many people who felt that this might be the wrong location for this infrastructure, it fundamentally confirms our belief that there are certain things that you have got to put closer to the people. I believe Dreamworld will only benefit from this location – the natural environment and absence of skylines provides endless possibilities and allows any film to be shot here.”
Construction is now set to begin on the project, bringing to a conclusion a process that started almost four years ago. The launch follows the decision by Minister Tasneem Essop earlier this year to uphold the Environmental Record of Decision and sign off on the rezoning of the Dreamworld site. Construction is set to commence as early as January 2007 with the studios anticipated to be operable by early 2008.
Says Wesgro CEO, Ismail Dockrat, “This investment is not only the largest commitment in our film sector but leads the way towards sustainability in this industry by ensuring the existence of a permanent film infrastructure which will ensure a strong and growing order book for the province.”
In his address, Singh confirmed the vision for the development: “We at Dreamworld are passionate about building a stronger film industry in our country, to being internationally competitive and to developing our amazing local talents. The studios have been designed to meet both local and international film needs – we want to bring the best producers in the world to our facilities here in Cape Town.”
The project, valued in excess of R400m, will be completed over phases with the different phases being developed at intervals, in line with the Environmental ROD and to ensure optimal operational capacity.
Commenting on the way forward now that zoning has been approved, Marcel Golding said that Dreamworld is proceeding with the remaining statutory approvals including subdivision, site development and building plan approvals which will be concluded by the end of 2006.
“It is our intention to bring an operations manager on board as soon as possible to ensure that design specifications for the studios are in line with international operational requirements of studios already in operation and so that marketing of the studios can get under way.”
Dreamworld is headed by a formidable team with South Africa’s most acclaimed film maker in Anant Singh from Videovision Entertainment, Marcel Golding, CEO etv, and a strong local empowerment component with Ms Phuti Tsukudu and the Helderberg African Chamber of Commerce.
Commenting on the market, Cape Film Commissioner Laurence Mitchell said the Western Cape was well positioned for further growth giving its strong relationships with production partners for all major studios in India, Canada, the UK, America and Western European markets. Mitchell added by saying: “The Dreamworld infrastructure would enhance our position to market Cape Town and the Western Cape as one of the leading destinations for the film industry and will significantly re-position the region as a globally leading film production destination.”
Last year the film industry in the Western Cape is estimated to have generated R2,5 billion and it is expected that this would increase significantly as the industry develops further capacity through this investment.
On the impact of Dreamworld Dockrat said “The economic benefits of this development will include job creation opportunities and SMME development for the community of Faure and surrounding communities which have been traditionally economically underdeveloped areas of Cape Town.”
The Dreamworld development brings a massive injection into the Western Cape and South African economy. It is estimated that the construction of the proposed Dreamworld Film City could result in excess of 8 300 additional employment opportunities, which will be created and sustained during the construction period. Of these employment opportunities over 5 300 employment opportunities will be created directly as a result of the development. The capital investment during the construction period is estimated at R1.5 billion.
Significantly, said Singh, the areas that would primarily benefit most are areas of greatest need in and around the studios, including Khayelitsha, Blue Downs, Crossroads, Eersteriver, Gugulethu, Langa and Mitchell’s Plain. During the operational phase it is estimated that unemployment in these areas will be reduced significantly, resulting in an increase in household income.
“One should also not underestimate the economic impact of having South Africa a€˜screened’ in international markets on a regular basis. The a€˜sales penetration effect’ of South Africa being seen more frequently in key developed markets will be a significant boost to promoting South Africa as a destination,” Singh added.
“Empowerment is integral to the proposal by Dreamworld,” said Singh, “and is addressed through a comprehensive empowerment protocol that recognizes that it is not just a question of correcting the imbalances in the South African economy, but is an imperative to the survival and sustainability of the film Industry.
The Premier also appealed to the film industry keep pricing realistic. “When we conceptualised Dreamworld, our costs for shooting a film in Cape Town were 40% cheaper than in America and were 20 to 30% cheaper than in Europe. This has been eroded by fluctuating exchange rates, but all of us in the film industry must admit that it has also been eroded by our own pricing and if we are going to send out a signal now in anticipation of the film studio coming on stream and we want it to be sustainable, I want to make an appeal to the film industry not to go for great profit margins, but rather go for volume because in realising volume, we can make the kind of money we want. We got to be able to send out a signal now that not only do we have the best location and world-class facilities, but we remain competitive at a cost level as well.”
“The construction of the Dreamworld Film Studios would take place within the framework of a Targeted Procurement Management System which makes provision for Cape businesses and people, especially those from the disadvantaged sector, to receive preference wherever possible in terms of contracts and procurement, recruiting, outsourcing, and the full range of professional services.”
Singh said the position of the site in Faure had been carefully chosen for its suitability as a film studio site on the advice of both Dreamworld’s international and local consulting teams, including international studio experts from the USA. “The development will act as an investment catalyst along the N2 corridor which will directly benefit disadvantaged communities which is in line with the Western Cape Government and City of Cape Town’s economic growth plan”, he said.
“Dreamworld will provide a right-sized, world-class one-stop film city in an appropriate location that will entice year-round growth in film production to cater for both the current, and indeed future needs of this dynamic and growing industry segment in Cape Town. We envisage that Dreamworld will become the hub of the film industry in the Western Cape,” Singh concluded.