The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) has been through a tough time recently with budget cuts compromising some areas of their activities. They are, however, optimistic about their goals and objectives and say that two important projects will create benefits for the Gauteng industry. Andy Stead chats to GFC CEO Terry Tselane.
AS: Please comment on your current two big projects.
TT: Both the Film Partnership document and the Film City proposal are in advanced stages of development and we hope to release the reports shortly. Following that we will workshop both projects with the industry.
The Film City proposal is an internal document which seeks to establish sites and motivation for the development of a true film city within the Gauteng province. In fact we have already identified a site in Midvaal; the other option is to partner with Blue IQ around infrastructure they are developing near OR Tambo Airport. We are very excited about this initiative and need to develop a project plan and a costing exercise. Remember that the Cape Town Film Studios spent almost R350m on their “film city’. Ours is likely to require around R1bn, so it’s a huge project. We would like to have an anchor tenant broadcaster on board. Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile has stated that he is prepared to consider a partnership with us to push this ahead. The GFC also seeks private investment.
AS: An exciting project indeed. Are you involved with anything else?
TT: Our other projects are more run of the mill and we continue to support local productions. The Bang Bang Club is launching in South Africa on 13 July and we are involved in that project as we partnered with local production company Out of Africa and the Canadian co-producer Foundry Films.
AS: Please comment on last year and on the GFC’s prospects for 2011.
TT: Last year was tough and 2011 is proving to be the same. Budget cuts have forced us to compromise on quite a number of projects. Every year we try to take our projects to international markets but when budgets are reduced this is the first platform to be sacrificed. Consequently our presence at international events is now almost non-existent, which is sad as apart from taking filmmakers to these markets, we use them to find people who are interested in South African films.
Secondly our marketing budget has suffered greatly. We are trying to push our limited resources to support film projects and productions. The GFC is nevertheless still hopeful that the Provincial Government will see the importance of investing more and more in film.
AS: Your website and newsletter are always well received – any changes there?
TT: We used to have quite a number of publications to communicate with the industry but all we can do now is partner with various entities and organisations as we no longer have the capacity for in-house publications. We have decided to partner with Screen Africa in this regard as it has the reach and capacity and we have had a long standing relationship with the magazine.
AS: What were GFC’s highlights last year?
TT: The 2010 FIFA World Cup presented a huge opportunity and allowed us to showcase South Africa. Several foreign production companies that came here to do documentaries about the Soccer World Cup were very excited about our highly skilled and experienced crews. I had a number of interviews with international channels that were all very impressed with the local film infrastructure and talent that we have to offer. The World Cup was also a great platform for showcasing our locations.
We did in fact have quite a number of projects related to the World Cup; one was Ace The Movie, about a South African soccer icon. The World Cup enabled the producer to begin to work with us on that project.
We also had The Bang Bang Club which the GFC partly financed. When we were at the Toronto Film Festival in September last year everyone was impressed with the movie, which indicated that we had a good product.
AS: Your own plans for the future?
TT: I have been the Gauteng Film Commissioner for six years now. My term was extended after the first three years and now ends in December 2011. If need be I could make myself available for another term, but I think I would like to move on to other challenges. I have managed to establish the GFC as an independent organisation and am proud of the way it has developed and grown.