Investors to star in KZN film industry growth

Professional services firm Deloitte, together with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Film Commission, and the Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry will play an active role promoting KZN’s rapidly growing film industry.

Guy Brazier, Office Managing Partner of Deloitte in KwaZulu-Natal, said that an event that would “launch” the KZN film industry to investors would be held at the Deloitte La Lucia offices on July 17.

The evening – which is modelled on a similar event at the Cannes Film festival – has been planned to coincide with the Durban International Film Festival, South Africa’s largest film industry networking event which is attended by high profile producers and stakeholders.

Brazier said that guests at the July 17 event would include well known film and television producer and member of the KZN Film Commission board, Paul Raleigh, who received anOscar for Tsotsi in 2006. South African film guru, Gray Hofmeyr, who has won more awards for directing and screen writing than any other director in the country, would also be in attendance. Gray created television soapie Isidingo and has directed eight feature movies including the first Jock of the Bushveld and four Leon Schuster movies.

Although South Africa is regarded as an emerging market in the film sector, he said achievements to date – which include the Oscar winning Tsotsi, Blood Diamond, Lord of War and Invictus which starred Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and chronicled South Africa’s 1995 World Cup victory – indicate that the local film industry has come of age and is producing world-class quality products.

Closer to home, he noted success stories that include the shooting of segments of Long Walk to Freedom in KZN and the three Spud movies which starred British comedy star, John Cleese.

The most recent feather in the local industry’s cap is Uzalo which has taken over from Generations as South Africa’s number one television soapie. Flighted on SABC 1, it is currently being filmed in an industrial building in Riverhorse Valley and has resulted in an injection of R60 million in direct production costs.

“Film in KZN has a history of more than 100 years but has been on the periphery. Now it is starting to take off. We will see another 20 productions begin in KZN over the next 18 months which has a significant multiplier effect for small companies,” said Chief Executive of the KZN Film Commission, Carol Coetzee.

She added that the KZN Film Commission, which was established in accordance with a provincial law first passed in 2010, was well on the road to positioning the province as a film production centre. “We are setting out to facilitate effective support throughout the value chain to local and international film industry stakeholders to create opportunities to grow the KZN film industry. This means working with various stakeholders to create an enabling environment and securing strategic investment for film projects.”

These projects include documentaries, television, shorts, animation and features. The KZN Film Commission is also pursuing opportunities for big budget Bollywood productions and is engaged in planning the construction of a film studio complex that is aimed at both international and local film productions.

“With interest in the province rising rapidly, the KZN Film Commission is positioning KZN as a globally competitive, diverse and sustainable investment destination and a first-choice location for film production in South Africa for both local and international film producers. This will contribute towards economic development and job creation in KZN – a vision that we all support,” Brazier said.

The market for filmed entertainment in South Africa generated revenues of R2.2 billion in 2012 and is expected to grow by seven percent over the next five years to reach R3.1 billion by 2017.*

“KwaZulu-Natal wants a bigger slice of this. With our mild climate and huge variety of locations, this province has immense potential. You can shoot anywhere in the world by selecting the right location in KZN – Umhlanga looks like any modern city, our beaches could represent any coastline and the KZN Midlands and the Drakensberg could be a mountainous setting from anywhere in the world. When you combine this with low production costs and a favourable exchange rate that makes it between 20 and 40 percent cheaper to make a film here than in America or Europe, you realise that there are huge opportunities right on our doorstep,” said Dumile Cele, Chief Executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce.

Partner and Regional Corporate Finance Leader at Deloitte, André Pottas, said that film is more labour intensive than tourism and has created more than 35 000 jobs across South Africa over the past three years.

“Job opportunities can be created both in front of and behind the camera. Each film production also supports downstream industry that provides catering and other services” he says.

Nic Horn, Director at Citadel, concluded that given the tough economic conditions currently prevailing in South Africa, where economic growth is stubbornly sluggish, an initiative such as this provides a welcome boost to the local economy in addition to raising the local and global profile of KZN as a region. “KZN is a region of fewer corporates, but many small and medium businesses and an area where entrepreneurship has flourished,” he says “Our client base is sourced from these businesses, so an initiative that will reward creativity in business through film is certainly something with which we want to associated. Many of our high net worth clients, once they have secured their core wealth utilising more traditional asset classes, do consider alternative or “passion” investments with surplus funds. These include art, watches, artworks amongst others and film would be considered alongside these.”

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