‘Crazy enough to make it happen’

Set on a 17th-century Carribbean island, the action-packed TV series <em>Black Sails</em> was shot at the Cape Town Film Studios. While the high-end TV series will be screened in the US next year, shooting for the second series has already begun in Cape Town.Set on an 18th-century Caribbean island, the action-packed TV series Black Sails was shot at the Cape Town Film Studios. While it is due to be screened in the US next year, shooting for the second series has already begun in Cape Town. Photo: The Hollywood Reporter

 

anne taylorBy Anne Taylor
30 September 2013

In a comprehensive look at South Africa’s film industry in yesterday’s Business Times, Ray Hartley details the filming of Black Sails, a US television series about pirates, that is currently being shot at Cape Town Film Studios.

The first high-end series to be filmed in Africa – and the largest ever to be filmed in South Africa, the set is a recreation of a 18th-century Caribbean village – complete with a bar, a bordello and a trading store. And you can’t forget the two giant wooden sailing ships that mark the horizon just off N2 between Cape Town and Somerset West.

The article quotes Nico Dekker, the boss of the Cape Town Film Studios, explaining how they secured the deal:

“They asked if they could shoot it here. I said we have no sea, no water. They said: ‘We heard you guys are crazy enough to make that happen’.”

Within four months, two five million-litre tanks had been built — one with a beach and the other for scenes on the open sea. Dekker says that local engineers not only rose to the challenge of building the two pools in record time, but they linked them through an underground tunnel. “You can have high tide and low tide on the beach. I don’t think anyone else in the world has this kind of facility.”

And it’s not just the South Africans who are pleased with the way things have turned out: “There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle as to how you shoot an 18th century beach town and ships and an ocean and do it on a TV schedule and on a TV budget,” Black Sails creator Jon Steinberg said in an on-set interview with Bloomberg recently. “This ended up being the best of all worlds. The way the production has gone has been kind of everything you hope for.”

Black Sails, the prequel to the Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island, will be screened in the US from January next year.