The preliminary framework for the creation of a film office in Port St. Johns, a scenic town on the wild coast of South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, is 70% complete and should be fully operational by the first quarter of 2013.
According to film sector development specialist Dominic Wilhelm, who developed South Africa’s first Film Induced Tourism (FIT) plan as part of a Port St. Johns Film Office Feasibility Study, the project has been a priority of the Port St. John’s Development Agency since its inception in 2010.
Says Thabisa Nodada, CEO pf Port St. John’s Development Agency, “As one of the poorest municipalities in the country, this is precisely the sort of development that is needed in the area. We are grateful for the government’s continued support and look forward to transforming and re-launching Port St. Johns to the world.’
Wilhelm continues. “The Feasibility Study, which was commissioned in late 2011, is the first of its kind in South Africa to officially include film tourism. Like any world-class film office, the objectives of the Port St. Johns Film Office include aggressive local and international marketing of the destination as film friendly, developing local talent, coordinating all public service providers, and creating and lobbying for competitive incentive programmes.
“Uniquely however, the Port St. Johns Film Office will be equipped to identify, co-develop and leverage film projects which lend themselves to film tourism, much like New Zealand did with Lord of the Rings. Depending on the project, this potentially opens an array of support services in finance and marketing to the producer.’
Wilhelm points out that Port St. Johns has already been facilitating films for three decades. Currently, an adventure film involving American actor Sean Astin (The Lord of The Rings, The Goonies) is being developed for Port St. Johns that involves large set builds, exotic African mythology, lost treasure and a pirate legend.
Some of the productions that have utilised Port St. Johns over the years include: Amazing Race Australia; Amelia; Blood Diamond; Blue Crush 2; Boesman and Lena; Goodbye Bafana; Human Cargo; Red Dust; Shout at the Devil; Son of Man; Stander; The Cradock Four; The Philanthropist; Themba; White Wedding; and Wild Ocean 3D.
Port St. Johns currently offers infrastructure that includes good cell phone reception, Internet, excellent provincial roads, a tarred air strip, comfortable accommodation and experienced local location scouts and managers.
“Over the next several years, however, the transformation of Port St. Johns will include major infrastructural and spatial developments infused with the allure of exotic Africa and the film world,’ concludes Wilhelm.
screen africa magazine – october 2012