Boost for Cape Town film studio

Tammy O’Reilly

Picturesque views, film-friendly climate and posh suburbs make Cape Town a visual feast for filmmakers, and with the construction of the multimillion rand Dreamworld studio underway to further support production, the city is on its way to being dubbed SA’s Hollywood.

The R450 million Dreamworld Studios is currently being built on 194 hectares of land in Vergenoegd Farm located at the gateway to the Cape’s famous Winelands. While negotiations have taken several years, construction is set to accelerate thanks to a R30 million injection from the Cape Town City Council that will go towards the provision of bulk infrastructure, which comprises the laying of water pipes, road access and the provision of electricity.

The Western Cape has a burgeoning film industry worth an estimated R20 billion and has been the location of choice for several directors from Hollywood to Bollywood. Hundreds of local and international documentaries, feature films and commercials are filmed here each year. Apart from the scenery, South Africa has the expertise in the way of proven talented technicians, an English speaking work force and the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of international filmmakers. Add to this that once operational in November this year, the studio will offer prices that are about 20% lower than those offered by similar facilities in the Canada, Australia and the U.K.

Employment

According to Dreamworld, the studio will comprise eight sound stages, various production facilities, digital facilities and outdoor back lot areas. An economic impact assessment undertaken by the consortium estimates that construction of the studio could result in employment opportunities for more than 8 000 people and the neighbouring areas of Khayelitsha, Blue Downs, Crossroads, Eersteriver, Gugulethu, Langa and Mitchell’s Plain in particular are set to benefit the most. Suppliers and manpower also make up 72.5% of their Black Economic Empowerment achievement.

In a 2005 report by the Cape Film Commission to the City of Cape Town it was found that the city’s filming boom has attracted investments worth over R60 million to the region since July 2005.

Nova Group property developers have recently announced that it has begun construction on an exclusive apartment hotel that will provide short-term accommodation specifically for the film industry in Cape Town’s trendy Sea Point area. There are also other operational film studios in the City, among them Studio City which boasts over 4 000 sqm of studio space, 7 000 sqm of office and production space, a full catering service, an animal holding area, petrol station, gymnasium and workshops.

South Africa is a strong player in the movie scene having produced several international award-winning actors and movies, and Dreamworld is bound to give budding actors and filmmakers a platform for furthering their careers in the film industry.

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