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Wesgro is the official Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town & Western Cape.

Cape films to feature on the international stage

The Cape Town film sector is gearing up to make its mark at a number of prestigious international festivals over the coming weeks, including the International Film Festival in Rotterdam (IFFR), the Gothenburg Film Festival, the Berlinale International Film Festival and the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (or FESPACO).

Award-winning  documentary Sisters of the Wilderness, directed and shot by Cape Town’s Karen Slater, prepares to premiere internationally for the first time at IFFR at the end of January.

Set in the oldest game park in Africa, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi park, Sisters of the  Wilderness tells the story of five young Zulu women venturing into the  wilderness for the first time on a journey of healing and self-discovery, reminding us that we are all intimately linked to nature.

Next on the agenda is Gothenburg Film Festival, where two Cape Town produced films continue their global festival run. Spier Films’ The Harvesters, and Big World Cinema’s Rafiki are both in consideration.

Berlinale  follows, with trailblazing director Jenna Bass’s Flatland being selected to make its World Premiere on the Prestigious Panorama stage of the International Film Festival.

The Panorama section is seen as the heart of the Berlinale and is a global boost for films to achieve selection. Panorama highlights an important mix of international art house and politically themed drama’s and documentaries.

Schooled in the art of film making at AFDA in Cape Town, Bass commented: “I’m so grateful and excited for everyone who helped make Flatland – from our crew who worked so hard, our service providers who were so generous, 100% local cast who gave so much and the Beaufort West and Leeu Gamka communities who welcomed us so warmly.”

Set in the Karoo town of Beaufort West Flatland is a contemporary, feminist Western; a  journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women. It paints a vivid and unique portrait of femininity against a hostile frontier land and questions what it means to be a woman today in South Africa and the world at large.

Other local names to look out for are Cape Town’s producer Tamsin Ranger and distributor Sydelle Willow Smith, who have been selected to be South Africa’s representatives in the Berlinale Talents programme.

Socially, culturally, and artistically diverse: the Berlinale Talents class of 2019, with  250 participants, is full of innovators like Cape Town distributor, Sydelle Willow Smith who goes on tour with “Sunshine Cinema” — a mobile, solar-powered movie theatre that makes curated film series accessible to a broad audience beyond traditional movie theatres while encouraging dialogue.

Tamsin is part of the production team at Cape Town’s Big World Cinema which has had many films in Berlinale including this year the award winning Rafiki, and last year’s breakout feature by Jenna Bass, High Fantasy.

Lastly at the end of February, the Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso, held  biennially in Ouagadougou, has selected four locally connected films out of twenty to run in competition for the FESPACO grand prize – the prestigious  Gold Stallion of Yennenga. The films include: Five Fingers For Marseilles by Michael Matthews, Sew The Winter To My Skin by Jahmil X.T.  Qubeka  plus two of Cape Town’s Big World produced films Rafiki and Akasha.

Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, commented: “The film sector is a valued contributor to the Western Cape  economy and the fact that our skills and our creativity are attracting attention  on the world stage is testament to the quality of our industry and the people  in it. This is an industry that is responsible for a large number of jobs in the province, many of them youth opportunities. These talented individuals who will be travelling overseas with their films act as ambassadors for the Western Cape film sector, helping to market our abilities and thereby contributing to the growth of the sector.”

Executive Mayor, Dan Plato, added: “I think it is fantastic that so  many of our local talented film makers are being celebrated on the  international stage. They are brand ambassadors for Cape Town and I’m sure will draw the attention of even more film makers to our shores which will see a boost to our local economy with more job opportunities being created for our communities.”

“We aim to make Cape Town a premier film-making destination around the world. We have all of the right people and places, as well as a supportive sector and local government. Our message to the  world is simple: if you want to make a movie, come to Cape Town. Our local  movie industry is going to be a box office hit!” said Alderman James Vos.

Congratulating the local talent heading abroad, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, concluded: “We are  thrilled to have so many locally shot, directed and talented individuals from  Cape Town and the Western Cape Film sector feature in these highly acclaimed  international festivals. It is positive to see that the challenges facing the  industry last year had little/if no impact on the creative genius of the productions directed and shot in the Province. There are so many quality productions emerging from the local sector and we look forward to seeing the  industry grow from strength to strength in 2019.”

 

 

Cape tech start-up sector establishes immigration policy advocacy panel

On 5 December, the tech start-up sector in the Western Cape came together to establish a panel of volunteers to raise the sector’s collective voice in the national policy dialogue regarding the immigration system. This took place at a Town Hall discussion organised by Silicon Cape, in partnership with LaunchLab and de Saude Attorneys, and hosted by Wesgro.

Representatives from the tech start-up sector ecosystem agreed that it was becoming increasingly critical for their voice to be heard at a national policy level, particularly with regard to challenges they face with the immigration framework. It was  therefore agreed to establish a panel of volunteers to advocate on behalf of the tech start-up sector and entrepreneurial ecosystem in lieu of amendments expected to the Immigration Act and critical skills list early next year.

In particular the  panel will advocate for a start-up visa, and for the inclusion in the Critical Skills List of skills that are scarce in South Africa but critical to building and strengthening local innovation and entrepreneurship. Brandon Paschal, Incubation Manager at LaunchLab, highlighted that in Europe many countries have a start-up visa, and that it plays an important role in the development of the sector.

It was also agreed  that the difficulty of obtaining visas for entrepreneurs and founders from across Africa to attend conferences and mentoring sessions in South Africa is a  major challenge to South Africa being the continent’s entrepreneurship and  innovation capital.

This tech sector Town Hall follows a broader stakeholder engagement in October hosted by Wesgro about the intersection between the immigration system and foreign investment in South  Africa. The immigration policy initiative launched in Cape Town yesterday is  also in alignment with the formation of a multi-sectoral task team under the  auspices of Business Leadership South Africa to take up challenges related to the immigration system.

Kerry Petrie, Interim  manager at Silicon Cape said: “Silicon Cape is stepping up into the space of  policy advocacy for the tech sector in response to calls from our members and  partners. Immigration will be the first issue being tackled that advocates on  behalf of the collective of entrepreneurs and start-ups and other ecosystem stakeholders in the tech start-up space.” She also stated that the current visa system was causing South Africa to miss out on huge opportunities for collaboration and learning across the continent.

“We are told that a draft immigration bill will be available at the end of March next year, and a new critical skills list will be implemented and commence on 1 April next year. All we are calling for is more engagement and more opportunity to comment. What we want to achieve through all of this is to get a regime that works for everyone,” added Immigration lawyer, Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi, who is also working with the BLSA forum.

MEC of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, said: “The Western Cape has set a goal of becoming a global tech hub and in order to do so, we will require visa regime needs to be  reflective of a region that is open for business.”

Executive mayor, Dan Plato, commented: “We are very proud of the tech sector that has developed in Cape Town and the Western Cape however, there is still much to be done to  unlock this sectors full potential to become one of the top tech destinations in the world. We applaud the efforts of this  sector to come together to further drive development in local tech.”

Tim Harris, CEO of  Wesgro, concluded: “Cape Town and the Western Cape is fast becoming the start-up capital of Africa, and has a tech sector that employs more than double that of Lagos and Nairobi combined. It is very important that South Africa’s regulatory framework not only allows this thriving sector to achieve its potential, but also allows this ecosystem to support the development of entrepreneurship and  innovation across the African Continent.”

Documentary filmmaking as a career is on the up in South Africa

The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival will offer a free Filmmakers’ Masterclass this Wednesday, 5 December to boost several initiatives to position Cape Town as a key film destination and location.

The masterclass, which is presented by Wesgro and aimed at aspiring filmmakers, producers, film students and those in the film industry, will focus on what it takes to secure funding, produce and distribute a documentary film.

The documentary genre has seen a resurgence in popularity, owing in part to increased accessibility via the growth of Video On Demand platforms like Netflix, and an audience response to ‘Blockbuster fatigue’ which has seen renewed interest in the documentary format and meaningful stories that reflect the nature and reality of our present lives.

The recent launch of F/LM Cape Town – a joint initiative between the City of Cape Town and the local film industry to promote the City’s amazing locations, diverse talent and world-class infrastructure – solidifies Cape Town as a world-class centre for filmmaking.

Besides its raw natural beauty, the city is rich in culture, diversity and heritage, which offers filmmakers an abundance of content. Curator of the Wavescape Masterclass Christopher Mason, who is co-director of Mason Brothers’ Films, said that you were halfway there if you had a good concept: “These days anyone with a unique idea, a DSLR camera and a laptop, and enough desire can be a filmmaker. The trick, of course, is understanding how to get your foot in the door in a very competitive industry.”

“What makes a good documentary and how does one become a good documentary filmmaker? How has the genre evolved and what are the possibilities for young South Africans interested in the genre? The Masterclass aims to give aspiring filmmakers the answers to these and other questions,” Mason said.

From developing a good idea into an award-winning film; to funding and distribution models; and case studies on the best this genre has to offer, this year’s masterclass aims to provide filmmakers with an immersive roadmap to success.

Steve Pike, co-founder of the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival said that the platform laid by F/LM Cape Town and initiatives such as the Wavescape Masterclass could help boost the already booming film industry, and thus reduce the 27.5% of South Africans who remain unemployed. The Wavescape festival, and in particular the Masterclass spoke directly to the F/LM initiative, Pike said.

“Cape Town has it all: amazing scenery and epic locations for adventure sport. Our festival is a key platform to showcase Cape Town as the Adventure Capital of the World while also celebrating the wild ocean and raw beauty around us.”

The CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, said that in the 2017/18 financial year, Wesgro’s Film and Media Promotion Unit “managed to secure nine declarations to creating 2,499 full time equivalent jobs – this shows the potential for job creation in this sector”.

“There are many job opportunities in the film and media industry due to the breadth and depth of skills required across the value chain of this fourth industrial revolutionary industry,” he said, also highlighting massive potential for the cutting edge gaming industry.

Several top speakers will talk at the Masterclass, including Jolynn Minnaar, an acclaimed documentary director; Cliff Bestall, who made 16th Man for ESPN 30 for 30 (produced by Morgan Freeman); Karen Slater, a Director / DOP in Sisters of the Wilderness that is eligible for an Oscar;  Khalid Shamis, editor of Strike A Rock; Liezel Vermeulen, producer and film finance expert; Izzette Mostert from the Documentary Filmmakers Association; and Monica Rorvik, Head of Wesgro Film and Media Promotion Unit.

Wavescape Filmmakers Masterclass
Date: 5 December 2018
Time: 6:00pm for 6:30pm
Venue: Invest SA One Stop Shop, Western Cape
Address: Cape Sun Corner, 46 St. George’s Mall, Cape Town
Parking: Picbel Parkade, 58 Strand Street, Cape Town Centre (For own account)

Visit the Wavescape Festival website to book your seat at the Filmmaker’s Masterclass.

Latest research confirms Cape Town is Africa’s tech capital

A report commissioned by the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Wesgro, and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation – with the support of the Western Cape Government – has confirmed that the greater Cape Town area, including Stellenbosch, is Africa’s tech capital.

The report by Endeavor Insight entitled ‘Evaluation & Network Analysis of the Cape Town-Stellenbosch Tech Sector’ was launched on 31 July at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock. Endeavor Insight is the research division of Endeavor, a global non-profit organisation that supports high-growth entrepreneurs and ecosystems, and has completed research on entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world.

“With South Africa’s current unemployment challenge, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation believes the study was important so as to understand the tech entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cape Town which has a great potential to accelerate meaningful job creation,” comments Karen Gabriels, head of Finance and Operations, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation.

The report aimed to discover the current state of the Cape tech entrepreneur community and identify where the opportunities for growth lie. The report is based on interviews with 150 local technology entrepreneurs and research into more than 450 local tech founders and their companies in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch area.

The report reveals that the Cape entrepreneurial tech sector is significantly more productive than other African cities, employing more than double the people than Lagos and Nairobi combined, with 450-550 entrepreneurial companies employing between 40 000 to 50 000 people. In comparison, the Lagos and Nairobi tech sector employs 9 000 and 7 000 people respectively, while a promising 3 per cent of local companies have reached scale (100+ employees), comparable to Nairobi’s 1 per cent and 2 per cent in Lagos.

With the potential for greater job creation in the digital economy, a key recommendation from the report was an increased focus on investment into talent development. “As an integral catalyst for the ecosystem’s growth, we are hearing a similar challenge across African tech sectors – sourcing specialised talent for digital teams is seriously limiting business growth. The report was great validation that the CapaCiTi Tech Skills and Job-readiness programmes we drive are completely market relevant to assist entrepreneurs, corporates and governments to understand and better solve their talent constraints to growth”, commented Ian Merrington, CEO of Africa’s oldest tech incubator, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi).

Findings revealed that of the more than 500 entrepreneurial companies in the tech sector, 20 per cent are working in e-commerce and SaaS sectors, with 15 per cent working in fintech. Putting Cape Town on the map is internet giant Naspers, celebrated as Africa’s highest-valued tech company. Further to this Clickatell, BrandsEye and GetSmarter were noted as Cape Town-based tech companies with a strong global presence.

“The dynamism, productivity and high-impact companies of Cape Town’s tech sector make it stand out as one of the most successful models in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has generated the continent’s most highly valued tech company as well as other software businesses that have reached scale, exited for significant sums, or grown to become leading businesses on the continent,” commented Rhett Morris, director of Endeavor Insight, who have similarly conducted research in tech hubs globally as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network’s initiative to map entrepreneur communities.

The research highlights the vibrancy of the Cape’s tech entrepreneur community and an interactive network map produced alongside the report illustrates the interconnectedness of the Cape’s entrepreneurs with regards to mentorship, investment, employment and inspiration. Cape founders of scaled tech companies (100+ employees) continue to engage with the ecosystem, with 30 per cent of founder-to-founder mentorship coming from these companies, compared to only 12 per cent in Lagos and 4 per cent in Nairobi.

The top five reasons for starting a tech company in Cape Town included:

  • It is an inspiring place for entrepreneurs to network
  • Cape Town is perceived as a tech hub
  • Vibrant local tech business community for start-up support
  • A globally competitive lifestyle that promotes innovation; and
  • Strong universities and major companies that help bring talent to the city

The Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said: “Cape Town has made a name for itself as a tech city through the hard work and innovation of its tech entrepreneurs, and investments by major international tech firms. It is because of this, and the enabling environment created in the Western Cape, that the sector is responsible for supporting 40 to 50 000 jobs. Nurturing this sector and developing a wide skills base to be able to sustain this market is more important than ever before as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

While the Cape tech sector has shown significant growth, dynamism and innovation over the last decade, there were challenges noted by companies interviewed. Chief among these are access to talent – a problem also encountered in Johannesburg and other African cities. Second to this was access to equity and finance, although the Cape was performing better than Nairobi and Lagos in this regard. Lastly, access to customers was noted as a problem being faced by these entrepreneurs.

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, commented: “This report shows that the Cape is the tech capital of Africa – a place of innovation and the future. It also shows us that we can do even more to unlock its full potential and become one of the top tech destinations in the world. The tech sector will be a key driver of economic growth and job creation over the course of the next 10 years and we look forward to watching this ecosystem flourish. Already our investment promotion team has helped land over R1 billion in investment in the Cape tech sector over the last five years. We look forward to growing this investment total even further.”

The Cape Endeavor Insight Report is available for download on CiTi’s homepage, and an interactive network map will be published by Endeavor Insight on 12 August.

 

Drakenstein Municipality commits to growing the film and media sector

Drakenstein Municipality has signed an agreement with Wesgro – Cape Town and the Western Cape’s Official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency – tasking it with promoting film, media and gaming opportunities in the municipality.

Councillor Conrad Poole, executive mayor of Drakenstein, says: “We welcome this agreement as it gives us the opportunity to display the natural scenic beauty, age-old winelands and friendly, diverse community of Drakenstein – where vintage is still a way of life – to local and international audiences. As a city of excellence, we believe Drakenstein’s close proximity to Cape Town, easy access, excellent infrastructure and historical significance (former President Nelson Mandela took his first footsteps of freedom here in 1990) make it a distinctive film, media and gaming industry asset.”

“A number of films have already made use of the attractive landscapes on offer in the Drakenstein Municipality, and we hope to further promote capacity building in the 4th Industrial Revolution content creation space, including animation and gaming. Drakenstein is the second municipality to enter into a film and media promotion agreement with Wesgro, showcasing the successes of Wesgro’s annual Municipal engagement,” commented Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris.

The objectives of the agreement are to help the municipality become film friendly, promote and market the region’s unique selling points and educate government on the full value chain of the film, media and gaming sector in order to drive growth in the municipality.

With the work scheduled to commence immediately, Wesgro and the Drakenstein Municipality are to begin scouting for key municipal and iconic locations that are attractive and available to be uitilised as film locations. Part of the process is to collate data on the hospitality offering and other key supporting services that operate within the municipality in order to further stimulate the economic growth of the sector.

The location data and key information identified in the municipality will be collated and included in the Cape Town and Western Cape Creative Locations e-Book – distributed online and in print format at Wesgro and industry’s key engagements globally.

As part of the scope, Wesgro and Drakenstein Municipality are to co-host advisory workshops with relevant departments in the municipality and the tourism office.

As part of the process, Wesgro will host a regional locations familiarisation tour to further promote the municipality.

Welcoming the signing of the agreement, Monica Rorvik, Wesgro’s head of Film and Media Promotion and certified African film commissioner, commented: “We are beyond thrilled to be signing this agreement with Drakenstein and hope that more municipalities in the province will work with us in this way. Film, media and gaming presents a magnitude of possibilities for a district – boosting the economy across sectors and most importantly, facilitating much needed employment opportunities.”

Panasonic SA launches new South African headquarters in Cape Town

On 12 July, Panasonic South Africa – a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation – launched its new South African headquarters in Century City, Cape Town.

The event was attended by the managing executive officer of Panasonic Corporation in Japan, Daizo Ito; premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille; Western Cape Minister of Finance, Dr Ivan Meyer; head of the Africa Region, Hiroyuki Shibutani; and the managing director of Panasonic South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Hidetoshi Kaneko.

Kaneko told Wesgro: “We are excited about our new headquarters in Cape Town. We decided to move to the Western Cape because of the growth in our customer base in this region, and access to other large companies located in the Cape. We are also encouraged by its strong skills-pipeline.”

At the launch, Zille said: “We welcome this latest move by Panasonic. It is a great vote of confidence in our region to have such a major global player set up base in Cape Town. Since 2009 we have worked tirelessly to create a conducive environment for businesses to operate freely, create jobs and grow the economy.”

The new Century City based facility has established a “Life Experience Centre”, open to the public and designed to enable Panasonic to hear customer voices with the aim of developing new products which are uniquely suited to the South African market. On display are several Panasonic products which are available in other parts of the world but have not been introduced into the South African market as yet.

In March, Panasonic launched the “YOU CAN BE THE LIGHT” project in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. At this ceremony Panasonic donated the first batch of Panasonic-branded solar lanterns (414 units) to the Foundation, who in turn will distribute the units to those in need of lighting in off-grid areas. As 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and the founding of Panasonic by Konosuke Matsushita, Panasonic multiplied 100 by two and aims to donate 10 000 lights over the next few years.

Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking moves back to Cape Town

The Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking will, as of July 2017, relocate all its training from Johannesburg to Cape Town’s Green Point campus. This is after the school was established in Johannesburg in 2007.

Funded by the European Union (EU), 150 students attending the school have been selected to be a part of a 13-month Citizen Journalist course, whereby laptops and mobile phones are given to each student to film stories in their communities.

Assisting in accelerating the school successes, Big Fish founder and CEO, Melanie Chait, explains how the EU-funded training has dramatically transformed Big Fish’s teaching methodology, as each student is now equipped with their own set of tools to edit and do research. Further to this, the quality cellphones have provided the students with quality cameras to shoot stories and learn storytelling techniques.

“Part of our success is that we don’t only train for the job, but allow students to develop their confidence, self-esteem as well as problem-solving abilities. Central to our methodology is to teach different approaches to interpret the world, through focussing on social justice issues. South Africa is sitting on a social time bomb and unless we assist the youth in finding ways to navigate their futures, our gini coefficient will not improve,” comments Chait.

The Ford Foundation has recognised the award-winning film school as an exemplar for best practice for post-secondary training, possessing one of the highest employment rates of training institutions.

Big Fish’s dedication to youth employment is aided by the inexorable development of digital technology, which constantly increases the need for content, thereby creating increased opportunities for youth employment. A most recent example of this is Rand Merchant Bank commissioning Big fish to create videos on the arts and environment for use on social media. Fourteen of these films will be screened at the 20th Encounters International Documentary Film Festival showcasing at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town on 9 June and were also screened at the Bioscope in Maboneng, Johannesburg on 3 June.

In 2016, the Big Fish feature documentary film Walking in my Shoes was screened at Encounters Film Festival. Focussing on the daily domestic lives of rural school children, the film depicted the daily trek to school. Highlighting the harsh climates, early hours of departure, distances walked and obstacles endured by these children – who were expected to be on time and write the same exams as those who had been driven daily. The film won best mid-length documentary at the 13th Montreal Black International Film Festival in September 2017. One of the key characters, Siphilele Thusini, is now studying at Big Fish.

Since its inception, Big Fish has successfully assisted disadvantaged youth gain access to tertiary education by offering bursaries to selected candidates through the help and support of sponsors and benefactors. The National Skills Fund is currently funding 125 students to complete a National Certificate in Film and TV production. Other funders include Old Mutual, eTV, Department of Arts and Culture, MICT Seta and Bertha Foundation.

 

Wesgro helps land R1.92 billion in film & media productions for the Western Cape

Wesgro has announced that a total of nine film and media declarations contributing R1.92 billion to Cape Town and the Western Cape’s economy were facilitated by their Film and Media Promotion Unit in the 2017/2018 financial year.

This spend on productions will result in approximately 2 449 full-time equivalent jobs having been created in the Cape.

In addition to this, the unit delivered over R33 million Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) through marketing support for the film and media industry.

This outstanding achievement was the efforts of a stronghold two women team – headed by Monica Rorvik and supported by Lisa Mini, film and media relations officer. Both women were certified as official African Film Commissioner’s by the African Film Commissions Network in November 2017.

The aim of the unit is to attract the production of local and international film and new media productions into Cape Town and the Western Cape. Their objective to grow the local industry is aligned to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s (DEDAT) 5-year film and media strategy, the Cape Town Film Studios, as well as the film and media promotion mandate from the City of Cape Town.

Congratulating the team on their efforts, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, commented: “The film and media market is a key contributor to our province’s economy and the above results bare testimony to this. It can garner much more international direct investment and local growth if we maintain and stabilise our legislative and incentive frameworks.”

During the financial year, the unit worked hard to facilitate the growth of the industry in a variety of different ways. This included four outbound missions to Cannes, France (May 2017); Toronto, Canada (September 2017); Berlin Germany (February 2018); and El Gouna Egypt (October 2017); 603 companies were upskilled through the completion of Exporter Advancement Promotion (EAP) courses activities – these were done in partnership with industry, and partnerships around inbound missions; as well as numerous ad hoc facilitation activities which took place, and to mention a few: visa support, mentoring and strategic B2B networking events.

Twenty-three separate inbound missions were facilitated with participant nationalities from Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA, UK, Qatar, and Russia. Seventy-five Western Cape companies were assisted on outbound missions to five festival markets: Shanghai Film Festival, China; Visions du Reel, Switzerland; Annecy, France; Cannes, France; and the Toronto International Film Festival, Canada. There was ongoing updating of the creative locations e-version book and the recent launch of the location’s website, Location Manual – a joint effort between Wesgro and the industry. Plus the completion of the film research project, Cape Town & Western Cape Film & Media Sector Study (Situational Analysis Report 2017).

Working alongside the Wesgro Tourism team, the film and media unit presented at various stakeholder engagements hosted in regions across the province. Presentations informed regions on how to become more film friendly and how to become a more attractive film location.

Head of the film team, Monica Rovrik, commented: “Over $30billion is spent on production by the Motion Picture Association companies globally, and the likelihood that South Africa can grow its footprint of spend from those companies from $400m to $1,5b is part of an ongoing discussion to help stabilise national strategic frameworks. Wesgro FMP is helping to facilitate this discussion and to attract even more of this spending to the region.”

Minister Alan Winde added, “The Western Cape has been growing traction as a destination of choice for filmmakers from all over the world and these results are proof of the excellent facilities and value we offer. It’s also good to see the number of local jobs being created which means that filmmakers are recognising the skills of our crews. This sector has a lot of potential for growth, which will allow us to further develop our skills set and grow the number of jobs available.”

“The Wesgro team has been working hard to resolve red tape faced by our industry, specifically with regards to constructive engagements with SAN Parks and various municipalities. Monica and her team have been pivotal in contributing to the positive growth of the local film industry with our company, the South African Association of Stills Producers (SAASP), declaring R521 Million and facilitating 168 full-time equivalent jobs in the Western Cape over the past financial year,” commented Rudi Riek of SAASP.

Commending the unit on their performance, executive mayor, Patricia de Lille said: “These results are a firm testament to Cape Town being a destination of choice to filmmakers and the work we are amplifying to let the world know that Cape Town is open for business. I would like to commend the media and film promotion unit for their efforts which contributed to this great success and we look forward to building on it to make even more progress possible in this important job-creating sector for our city.”

CINEMAX’s Warrior TV series boosts job creation in the Western Cape

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CINEMAX’s Warrior TV series is making a significant contribution to job creation and foreign investment in the Western Cape province.

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said he has been informed about this exciting news and is thankful for CINEMAX’s contribution to boosting economic growth and job creation in the Cape. “Data from the completed first episodes shows that approximately 390 local South African businesses have been contracted with. These range from suppliers of construction materials, wardrobe, film equipment, vehicles and logistics to suppliers of sound stages, post facilities, catering and accommodation.”

“There has also been a significant investment in sets, and the 19th century Chinatown, San Francisco back-lot at the Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS), could be a huge asset for the local industry at large” continued Harris.

The series is inspired by an original idea from the writings of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee about the Chinese Tong wars in 19th century San Francisco, and is currently in production at the Cape Town Film Studios. The US television company behind the project is HBO/CINEMAX, whose credits include Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. Executive producers are Jonathan Tropper, Justin Lin, Danielle Woodrow and Brad Caleb Kane. Shannon Lee is the executive for Bruce Lee Entertainment.

“The production is currently employing over six-hundred (600) local film crew, of which around 60 per cent are previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI), and there are approximately 6 000 man-days budgeted for extras and stunt performers,” says Genevieve Hofmeyr of Moonlighting Films, the local service company working on the project.

She continued: “there are several programmes aimed at skills transfer and transformation, such as a producer programme (in collaboration with M-Net) where several young black producers will work-shadow the series producers. The VFX training programme is aimed at increasing the VFX talent pool, which is being done in collaboration with the Western Cape government. In addition, we also have our standard mentorship programme which employs over twenty PDI film trainees. The production has identified around twenty PDI film crew who will be accelerated to senior positions on season two, should a second season be green-lit.”

“It speaks volumes that the studio sent down only nine foreign crew to work on the project. The rest are all South Africans, including some Directors of Photography, supervising art director, script supervisor, costume designer, hair & make-up designer, set decorator, SFX supervisor, and VFX producers. Five years ago, this would not have been possible and this is testimony to the growth of the industry. A lot of this growth is due to the advent of episodic TV content being produced in South Africa. Due to the long-running nature of these projects, they are the ideal platforms for transformation and skills transfer, advancement of PDI crew, and infrastructure development. There is also the opportunity for annuity foreign investment, as many of these projects run from year to year as additional seasons are green-lit by the networks,” concluded Hofmeyr.

Wesgro’s head of Film and Media Promotion, Monica Rorvik, will attend an International Film and TV Dialogue in March in order to take part in discussions and collaborate on the factors that could drive accelerated growth in the numbers of TV series and feature films being introduced by international entities and facilitated by South African film production companies.

Monica noted that: “It is important that a local talent tracking mechanism, a policy Motion Picture Association (MPA) members are supporting, can help the industry achieve its local transformation and employment needs. It’s exciting that these bigger shows no longer have to bring in as much foreign talent and crew, and it shows that capacity is being developed by the Department of Trade and Industry’s incentives – but much more needs to be done there and a strong industry/Government partnership can deliver that.”

“MPA member companies and other international producers spend more than US$30 billion annually on production. It would be great for South Africa to mirror the growth of the US State of Georgia which, over ten years, went from a US$250 million film economy to a US$2.7 billion film economy. Thus far South Africa sits at about a US$400 million film economy – and that could easily grow to US$1.5 billion if the policy framework of the country is treated with care” added Rorvik.

The executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille, welcomed this investment and the jobs it will create for residents. “Cinemax’s investment in Cape Town is a testament to the city’s reputation as an attractive destination with a thriving film making market.  The city has a diverse landscape, is cost-effective for foreign productions, has a strong reputation for highly skilled film companies, provides innovative production services, and enjoys government support.”

The Cape’s film industry to become more water resilient

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Cape Town and the Western Cape’s Film and Media Promotion Unit, located in Wesgro, extends its gratitude to the many companies in the industry taking innovative steps to become water resilient.

Last week, together with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government, the unit hosted a “Think Tank” session where best practice on water saving was shared with businesses. The enthusiasm and determination demonstrated by members who attended this workshop was heart-warming.

Cape Town is not the first major film destination to experience severe drought, with several parts of California only recently emerging from a similar experience. Nevertheless, Wesgro is determined to become stronger during this challenging period, positioning itself as a water resilient, and sustainable sector. This, they say will result in even more film and media productions being brought to the Cape, now and into the future.

Monica Rorvik, the head of the Film and Media Promotion Unit, and certified African film commissioner said: “Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business. We are working with the industry to assist them in becoming water resilient during this drought. We are so thankful for the many companies already taking steps to make this happen. If we all work together and do our bit, we will emerge from this period stronger and more resilient. This gives me confidence and hope.”

Ms Rorvik continued: “Over the coming months, our team will be proactively engaging with the international film and media trade at key festivals such as the Berlin Film Festival. We also will use our colleagues that embark on tourism, trade and investment missions to get the word out that Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business, and are both ready to be an inspiring destination to create.”

Genevieve Hofmeyr, co-founder and managing director at Moonlighting Films – a major facilitation company based in Cape Town said: “Film businesses in Cape Town and the Western Cape are adapting to the new normal. Our international cast and crew are living like locals and cutting their water footprint. Where potable water is required for a scene, it is imported from the Cape Overberg and then re-used in our greywater systems, but these scenes are being cut to the minimum.”

Byron De Carvalho, director at Shesha – a film catering company added: “Shesha has a plan to save 145 000 litres of water. We are going to erect water cooler drums, which makes use of water from springs outside of Cape Town. An average shoot uses up to 480 plastic bottles of water a day, so this intervention will drastically save water. We are also installing an air-water converter, which will be used to run our kitchen, and will use plastic, biodegradable plates and cutlery to reduce washing requirements. Our chefs will in addition cut out high water using dishes from the menu, and greywater will be used to clean floors. We know that by taking these steps, we will not only save money but also ensure that we are sustainable now and into the future. And this will mean even more TV and advert shoots in Cape Town.”

Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said: “We welcome the forward-thinking efforts of the film industry to reduce their water footprint and to save water. It is these types of innovative steps that are set to catapult our economy into a stronger and more resilient future. In the short term, the commitments being made by businesses across the province are helping us to get through this critical time, with the result that many jobs will be preserved”.

Rudi Riek, a leading consultant to the film industry concluded: “Our Industry has been world leaders on many fronts and our ability as an industry to deal with crisis situations is well known. We are encouraged by the incredible measures our suppliers and production companies are already taking in order to save water. Along with our partners in the City and Wesgro with the support of our suppliers we will be rolling out new guidelines that all companies must adhere to in our efforts to ensure all productions are water neutral or as close to it as possible. Fortunately for film, we generally only bring in less than 10 per cent of the participants on the project from overseas – the remaining 90 per cent are locals, who are already saving water at home. Our message is clear: Cape Town is open for business and we cannot wait to welcome you.”

 

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