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The filming and events industries are exceeding expectations in the Mother City, with the City issuing nearly 3 000 permits in just three months. This boom could potentially create additional economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMMEs. Cape Town’s variety of locations, competitive film tariffs and production costs underpin the city’s attractiveness as a filming destination. In addition, the conclusion of multi-year agreements to anchor six big events will bring a guaranteed boost to the economy for the next few years. 

The City of Cape Town issued 2 870 permits for various film shoots in one quarter alone (January to March 2016). Year-to-date numbers are equally impressive, with the number of permits issued increasing from 3 943 in 2014/15 to 6 173 in 2015/16 (over the three quarters in total).

Collectively, the 2 870 film shoots in the first quarter of 2016 contributed upwards of R3,58 million to the City’s coffers for services rendered. The bulk of the filming permits were issued for the following:

Production type Number of permits issued
Micro-shoots 1 066
Commercials 846
Stills photography 769
Television series 51
Television films and productions 30
Music videos 27
Feature films 11

The film industry contributes approximately R5 billion to the local economy and has over the past three years created more than 35 000 jobs.

A number of local and international movies and series are currently being filmed in the city, including ‘Black Sails’ Season 2 (UK), ‘Dominion’ Season 2 (USA), ‘Wallander’ (USA), ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (USA), ‘Detour’ (USA), ‘Honey 3’ (USA) and ‘Odyssee’ (USA) to mention a few.

Added to this mix are the bigger sporting events that attract a large number of domestic and international participants and media. These events are the biggest contributors to local coffers. While it is not always possible to establish the economic contribution of all events, the international exposure for the city is phenomenal. The City’s support is part of our strategy to attract big events to the city and to position Cape Town as the events capital of Africa.

Further multi-year agreements for more anchor events are in the process of being concluded. This will add a significant amount to the revenue generated annually. Last year, just six events contributed a phenomenal amount of R2 billion. From January to March this year, 172 events were supported – up from 100 for the same period in 2015.

‘The employment opportunities created by these two industries are most welcomed, especially in light of the current unemployment rate of the country. These two sectors are on an upward trajectory that presents opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMMEs to consider exploring.

‘Filming is a labour-intensive industry and therefore has a long value chain. The film production sector also adds value to a wide range of other sectors in the local economy through the creation of demand for products and services. The industry showcases Cape Town, its diversity of locations, technical film capacity and talent, and also provides value-added marketing and investment collateral for the city. This booming industry ensures valuable skills transfer from international crews to our local crews, which is critical to the future sustainability of the industry. The film industry plays a vital role in the economy of the Western Cape. It stimulates growth, generates substantial employment, and brings in valuable foreign exchange. It is also one of the best forms of promotion for our city.

‘In addition, the economic contribution by our residents and domestic visitors who support local events should not be underestimated. We welcome the ripple effect by way of job experience and job creation during the events and after. The increased spending at our attractions and across the hospitality industry, coupled with the need for local associated services that benefit directly from these events, serve as an injection into the local economy,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Councillor Garreth Bloor.

The economic impact across the sectors for the filming of a feature film can be illustrated as follows by using the example of ‘Safe House’:

  • Job creation: a crew and cast of approximately 860 people were employed for varying periods, but in most cases in excess of six months. The total payroll spend was approximately R40 million. In addition, approximately 5 000 people were hired as front-of-camera extras, adding another R3 million to the payroll
  • Training: a record-breaking 22 trainees were involved in the production of ‘Safe House’. The total value of the training was in the region of R1 million. Invaluable on-the-job training was also derived from the international key crew (many of whom are Oscar-winners in their respective fields) who worked hand-in-hand with local crew members. Forty local actors also had the opportunity to work alongside and learn from acting icons such as Denzel Washington
  • Car rental: a total of R5,8 million was spent across a number of Cape Town car and truck rental companies
  • Hotel accommodation: R11,3 million was spent across a number of Cape Town hotel establishments
  • Catering: R5,5 million was spent with Cape Town-based caterers who had to gear up their crews to cope with the numbers, which was another area of job creation especially for small businesses
  • Per diem: a total of R6 million was paid out to foreign crew and cast in per diem allowances, which was in turn spent in local restaurants, bars, shopping centres and cinema complexes
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