The Cannes experience


Nico Dekker made his third consecutive trip to the Cannes Film Festival on behalf of
Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS) and reports a buoyant market.

“There was a definite upswing in business from last year,’ says Dekker. “Even the
pessimism that resulted from the demise of the UK Film Council last year has been
replaced with optimism now that the British Film Institute (BFI) has taken up those
duties. There is even a belief that the situation could be an improvement on the past.

“Sales agents were definitely more open to business and even newcomers to the market
found ears more amenable to projects that would not have been considered during the
past two years. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein described this year’s Cannes as
the best in more than a decade.’

Dekker notes that Cannes can be a very confusing market until you establish a profile.
“Only after that does it get easier to find people and projects with substance. The great
thing about Cannes is that it brings so many real filmmakers together, so you need to
set aside five to 10 days for meetings and networking.’

This year Dekker was invited to Cannes as a guest of honour by the Producer’s
Network, which led to many discussions regarding specific projects. “I found that
producers were tracking me down at the festival to discuss projects initially scheduled
for other parts of the world. Some filmmakers from the US and Europe even approached
me before Cannes to set up meetings during the festival. There was also interest from
producers in India. Film projects under discussion ranged from sci-fi, fantasy to
romantic comedies, with budgets from $5m to $15m.’

CTFS worked closely with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) using the
South African Pavilion at Cannes to host two significant events called “South Africa
Hour’. Guests were invited for networking sessions and to taste some exclusive South
African wines, sponsored and flown in from Distell and Vergenoegd, and snack on

According to Dekker, The Hollywood Reporter rated CTFS in its last edition. “A
representative from another studio asked me: “What are you doing to achieve such a
high profile?’ It started three years ago with a carefully planned marketing campaign.
This consisted of targeting key players in the US and Europe for one-on-one meetings
and at the same time building a specific image with the media.

“The experience of hosting the 3D blockbuster Dredd at the end of last year has helped
to solidify the promise that CTFS is able to accommodate and service a sizeable high-
tech production.

“At the moment we have two international productions working at CTFS, which will be
made known shortly. There are also a number of big international productions in the
pipeline. So in spite of the strong rand and our weak incentives (in comparison to our
competitors), things are looking extremely buoyant which bodes well for the South
African film industry.’


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