Film industry momentum continues to build

MARCH 17, 2016

A second Film Industry workshop for all industry role players in the Garden Route was hosted in Knysna last Friday.  This workshop marked 2 years since the George Municipality initiated its support for the industry in March 2014. 

The workshop highlighted the concern with regard to the recent closure of the Cape Film Commission offices, which is considered a big blow for the industry locally.  Mr Denis Lillie, CEO of the CFC, attended the workshop and assured the industry that although the office has been closed due to withdrawal of government funding,  he has been able to retain one temporary staff member and support to the industry, for example, the issuing of visa letters continues.

WESGRO representative, Ms. Lisa Mini outlined their mandate in terms of Investment, Trade and Film Promotion.  Many of the industry role players encouraged WESGRO to build a working relationship with the CFC to ensure that independent producers and crew members are not excluded from the flow of information and support, currently mainly channelled through Professional Industry Associations.

The highlight of the meeting was a talk by Mr. Patrick Walton (ShootAway Productions) on his experience as Producer shooting The Bachelor Finland on location in the Garden Route earlier this year.  Patrick shared a wealth of information with the industry, including some challenges experienced on set.  He urged businesses in the area to become “film friendly” and to embrace a barter system (goods for exposure) in the early stages of development of the industry locally.  There is some danger in growing too quickly, too fast, and business should not be over hasty and drive up prices too soon.  He summarised that the single biggest attraction to the area currently, is the extensive range and diversity in locations within a very short driving distance.    

Support for the Film Industry in the area has been a collaborative effort between the local municipalities, and specifically George and Knysna Municipalities have shown that through working together, significant results can be achieved.  The Bachelor Finland crew and main location was based in Wilderness, but the series was filmed at 27 locations across the area, including Simola, Monkeyland/Birds of Eden and the Cango Caves. 

Carli Bunding-Venter, Manager: Local Economic Development at George Municipality confirmed that an action plan will be drafted following the workshop, as was the case after previous events.  She said: “LED officials across the region will work to implement certain actions in support of the industry over coming months.  The aim is to host the next workshop within the next  few months, and we hope to execute some training opportunities during this time as well.  Momentum is important, but we also have to make sure we do this right – if one international or local producer has a bad experience in our area, it could undo all the progress we’ve made thus far.”

Any persons interested in the Film Industry or wishing to participate in future events can send an email to [email protected]