Cape Town remains a popular film destination for producers from all over the world and it is mainly thanks to the city’s location, facilities and services that filmmakers flock there.
The City of Cape Town’s Film Permit Office (FPO) has had a busy year behind it. An overview of the 2022-23 financial year shows that the past film season was one of the busiest yet, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.
JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, says Cape Town has a lot to offer with a variety of world-class locations to shoot, studios, facilitation and production companies and highly trained specialized crew and talent.
“More than 3,900 film permits were issued by the city’s film permit office between July last year and July this year.
“This includes feature films, commercials, TV series, stills, documentaries, short films, student projects and music videos.”
Any professional filming for commercial purposes involving cameras, lights, generators, road closures or any activity on public roads and places – and which has an effect on the daily life of businesses and residents in the vicinity of the scene – requires an approved film permit from the city, says Smith.
“American Monsters, Blood and Water ‘s fourth season, Come Dine with Me Cape Town and Fear Factor India are some of the local and international productions that have been filmed in Cape Town in the past 12 months,” says Smith.
While most of the permits for filming were for commercials, the Mother City was also host to more than a hundred major film productions and 499 TV series in the financial year.
Smith says the film permit office also received bookings for more than 8,300 outdoor shoots in the same period.
“This past season we have seen a number of international film and TV productions heading to our shores as we gradually recover from the effects of the (Covid-19) pandemic.”
The local film industry has also done an incredible job of attracting international brands to film their commercials in Cape Town.
“These figures represent a significant improvement in interest in Cape Town as a film destination compared to the 2021-’22 financial year in which 7,400 location bookings were processed.”
Smith says Darling, Keerom, Leeuwen and Dorp Streets are very popular thanks to the architecture that can resemble European locations.
“Kogelbaai beach, Kampsbaai beach, Clifton’s fourth beach and Muizenberg beach are also popular locations for the film industry.”
According to Smith, the film industry has proven to be a catalyst for economic growth. An investigation commissioned by the city shows that the film industry annually contributes about R5 billion to the local economy and creates more than 35,000 jobs.
“The City of Cape Town’s film strategy, which was approved in 2020, shows the importance of the film industry as a key driver of economic activity, not only for the Cape Town economy, but for the South African economy as a whole.
“This strategy seeks to market the brand identity of the city and the country and to leverage the extensive film industry value chain – and the enormous potential within this industry – for economic growth, job creation and social inclusiveness.
“The success this past year was made possible by Cape Town’s reputation as a city with a world-class local film industry; by a competent and efficient film office and the fact that we have some of the best locations in the world within a few kilometers of the city centre,” says Smith.
Cape Town froze all safety and security rates for filming in July last year to support growth in the industry and help the sector reduce production costs.
“The 2022-’23 fiscal year is the third time in recent years that the city has frozen rates to assist the industry in difficult times. The municipality saved the industry more than R900 000 in costs through the tariff freeze. This includes costs for traffic services, metro police and law enforcement,” says Smith.