Cape Town certainly has become the go-to African destination for film and media productions. Both the South African film industry and international creators have already shot incredible works of art in this innovative epicentre for visual storytelling.
With increasingly more big-budget movies being shot in the Mother City, it’s really not surprising that the City of Cape Town and the Cape Town film industry have forged a strong relationship over the last decade. This has led to the creation of the F/LM CAPE TOWN initiative, which is designed to encourage Cape Town’s continued growth as Africa’s leading film and media hub.
“The film sector is a priority sector in the Western Cape’s economy. It generates ±R5 billion and creates ±6,058 direct jobs and ±2,502 indirect jobs (and growing) a year.” Alan Winde (Premier of the Western Cape, 2019)
Why produce Film & Media in Cape Town?
Filming in Cape Town means production teams get to benefit from an internationally competitive film and media destination. The city boasts a variety of world-class locations, studios, facilitation companies and specialised crew. This is what has consistently attracted some of the world’s top filmmakers to its shores.
Add to this Cape Town’s increasing foothold as South Africa’s Digitech & New-Media hub, and you’ve got a recipe for success. 57% of all South African gaming studios being located in the city, as well as a large proportion of the country’s animation and design studios. The increased demand for local content has really fueled the animation industry here, which pursues innovative stories around under-represented cultures. In fact, Cape Town’s animation studios are the largest animation producers on the African continent!
Competitive advantages of Filming in Cape Town
Spotting celebrities around town has become a regular part of life in the Mother City. The Cape Town film industry continues to thrive in this manner for several reasons. For international filmmakers, the allure of the city as a destination is pretty simple: low production costs, a solid reputation and a truly endless array of scenery. However, there are additional competitive advantages that simply can’t be ignored:
Cape Town already has ±5 000 identified locations in public spaces, as well as countless privately-owned sites that are available for productions (Project Camissa Report 2019).
The stunning portfolio of choice includes fascinating urbanscapes to mountainous and nature-based locations. This flexibility is what brings filmmakers to Cape Town to shoot in a multitude of locations within one destination.
Open any travel mag or tour brochure, and images leap off the page – Table Mountain, Blue Flag beaches, picturesque vineyards, modern urban skylines, remote country roads… even quaint historical buildings circa the early 1800s. These very same iconic images that attract such a booming visitor economy, also make for idyllic locations for almost any and every type of film project.
The Mother City boasts a variety of architectural styles, including colonial and European aesthetics, like the Cape Dutch estates. Within the CBD, locations like the V&A Waterfront (which has its own permit office), Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), the Cape Town Stadium and Cape Town Civic Centre are all popular locations for scenes.
Cape Nature and SANParks are also nearby to provide backdrops of incredible natural splendour. Between January 2016 and December 2016 alone, a total of 11 691 locations were booked with 6 975 location permits issued during the period. Today, the number of permits issued annually in Cape Town is on par with the number of permits issued in other major film destinations, like Toronto (Project Camissa Report 2019).
The compatibility of the region with foreign destinations is also hard to ignore. The Western Cape has a highly diverse landscape with the ability to replicate a multitude of foreign destinations at a lower cost than other locations. Time zone and ease of travel from Europe also make for a convenient destination for EU producers. Not to mention, lengthy daylight hours in summer make for better shooting durations (average of 15 hours: 5:30am to 8:00pm).
The film and media industry in Cape Town has an excellent global reputation, with international production companies noting the level of service provided in the destination, the quality of local crew and the availability of purpose-built infrastructure, as well as established broadband capabilities.
Introducing Cape Town Film Studios (CTFS)
The founding of CTFS was also the development of the first state-of-the-art film studio in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2011 and 2016, it amassed $140 million in film investment. It is the largest studio of its kind in the country, boasting multiple soundstages, offices and pre-production/post-production facilities, as well as a studio cinema.
In fact, over the past five years, the CTFS has hosted more than 20 productions, creating approximately 70 000 annualised Full-Time Equivalent (“FTE”) jobs. It is also now rated as one of the top 10 studios in the world (Invest in Western Cape, 2013; Mail & Guardian, 2012). This, in turn, gained the confidence of the international industry which has led to numerous high-profile international productions being shot at the studio.
“My dream would be, one day, if possible, to create that kind of Universal or a Disney for Africa that finances, produces and distributes.” Nico Dekker (Cape Town Film Studios)
Popular movies filmed in Cape Town
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Mad Max: Fury Road
Maze Runner: Death Cure
Popular TV shows shot in Cape Town
Invest in the Cape Town Film & Media industry
While the USA may have Hollywood and India has Bollywood, some have unofficially dubbed Cape Town as “Mzanziwood”. With the right opportunities and investors, the Mother City is truly poised to produce incredible film and media in 2020 and beyond. There are also several incentives in place that make this part of South Africa a production team’s dream.