Hollywood is looking to produce in Cape Town Film Studios


Thanks to the international success of District 9, Hollywood is showing great interest in the Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS), which is being built outside Somerset West.

Nico Dekker, the chief executive of CTFS, has recently returned from his first major marketing visit to the six major film producers in Los Angeles - namely Fox, Paramount, Disney, Sony, Universal and Warner. He also met a number of smaller production companies.

While his company had not funded District 9, the film put South Africa on the map for the American film industry, Dekker said.

Apart from a saving of up to 50% on production costs for foreign producers, the greater maturity of the local film industry has, according to Dekker, demonstrated to them that the Western Cape has the necessary technical expertise to compete internationally.

Dekker had expected to see three managers in Los Angeles, but when he got there 26 were waiting for him. The South African consulate in Los Angeles told him that his marketing endeavour had been the most successful of its type to date.

Laurence Mitchell, managing executive of the Cape Film Commission (CFC), says several Johannesburg film producers are planning to open branches in Cape Town for at least the next couple of years, to benefit from a major number of productions about the 2010 World Cup, in particular.

He is also thrilled that the CFC was able to persuade the BBC to make Cape Town its 2010 base. Apart from soccer, the BBC will be producing educational and entertainment programmes there. According to Mitchell, the BBC wants to ensure that its 200m viewers see that its crew is not merely sitting in a studio in London.

In the run-up to the World Cup soccer tournament next year, Mitchell expects production to increase massively from January onwards. This could help to counter the effects of the recession, which has handicapped local productions, especially in light of the problems at the SABC.

Among the year's highlights, says Mitchell, was the filming of the film Laconia about a luxury passenger liner that sank during the Second World War. The budget amounted to more than R60m for 61 days of filming in Cape Town.

Various Bollywood productions like No Problem, with Slum Dog Millionaire's Anil Kapoor in the cast, as well as Clint Eastwood's rugby picture Invictus, were mainly filmed here. Skills development is also taking place at the new animation academy at the False Bay College in Khayelitsha.