South Africa has launched a three-year incentive scheme to help black filmmakers develop their businesses to the point they can take on big productions – and create more jobs in the country’s growing movie industry.
Trade and industry minister Rob Davies launched the South African Emerging Black Filmmakers Incentive Programme on 16 September.
The programme, which will run until March 2017, will give a rebate of 50% for the first R6-million filmmakers spend in Qualifying South African Production Expenditure. Known as QSAPE, this is the money spent on copyright and goods owned by film producers, and on facilities and services provided by South African companies and individuals. Qualifying applicants will also receive 25% of QSAPE expenses over R6-million.
Local filmmaker Uzanenkosi Mahlangu, creator and producer of the local TV series Intersexions, said the new incentive would benefit South African black scriptwriters and filmmakers, as they currently struggled to produce uncommissioned, original material by themselves.
“The incentive programme will change all of that,” he said. “Although it might not persuade lawyers and economists to turn into filmmakers but it might stop some filmmakers from feeling like they needed something to fall back on.”
Making films to boost economic growth
Davies said at the launch that the new incentive aimed to give emerging black filmmakers direct support that was not available in the Film and Television Production and Coproduction Incentive programme, launched in 2004. That scheme was set up to stimulate economic growth and participation in the industry.
“The film industry, through various engagements and consultations, indicated that the previous scheme and threshold did not accommodate nor support emerging filmmakers,” he said.
“The Department of Trade and Industry has now reduced the threshold and upped the incentive in an effort to create many opportunities for people with low-budget productions for televisions and films. In this way more productions will be supported than ever before.”
In discussions held with members of the film and TV industry in May, Davies gave the assurance that his department would continue to improve its incentive scheme for South African filmmakers.
The country’s movie industry needs quality filmmakers, he said at the launch of the incentive, for it to live up to its reputation of being a competitive driver of the economy. The DTI also plans to send a trade mission to Hollywood to showcase the South African film industry.
The incentive is open to South African black-owned qualifying productions with a total production budget of R1-million or more. Companies must be at least 65% owned by black South Africans and have a level three black economic empowerment status. They must also employ a black producer or director who is credited for that role in the film.