Tag Archives: Cape Town Film Studios

Film Cape Town to reposition itself (again) as the SA Film Capital!

The City of Cape Town has announced that the Film Cape Town website has been launched, a joint venture between itself and the Cape Town film and media industry. This is excellent news for the tourism industry in Cape Town and surrounds, to revitalize an industry which brought thousands of film industry tourists as well as millions of Rands to our city, but which declined due to the closure of the Cape Film Commission due to a cut in grants from the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government in 2016, the water crisis, local rising costs, as well as an industry which battled within itself and the City and province. Continue reading →

Cape Film Commission shoots Minister Winde down re film funding!

The Cape Film Commission, promoting filmmaking in Cape Town and surrounds and assisting production companies with permits for shoots, has publicly criticised Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, for no longer supporting the Film Commission, and for handing over the R 4 million to Wesgro, the Western Cape Trade, Industry and Tourism development agency, reports the Cape Times.

Three months ago Minister Winde announced that monies would be allocated to Wesgro for the promotion of the Western Cape’s film industry. In making the announcement, he promised that Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.

Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie also criticised the Minister’s support of ‘Search for Sugar Man’, produced by a foreign filmmaker, but shot locally, and having been nominated for and winning the Academy Awards’ Oscar for Best Documentary.  He is quoted as saying that the Minister is ‘promoting a foreign film rather than using public money to support the commission in its promotion of the local (film) industry‘.

The Cape Film Commission took 25 local filmmakers to the Berlin film festival and the European film market in February.  This month it is taking 24 filmmakers to the Tribeca film festival in New York, and 20 filmmakers will be taken to Cannes in May.  The Cape Film Commission is considering legal action against the Minister, for breaching a promise of funding until 2015.  The Minister has not commented due to the legal action being taken by the Cape Film Commission.

While we have the highest regard for Minister Winde, we cannot understand why he is placing so much faith in Wesgro. In the 11 months since taking over Tourism marketing of the Western Cape from Cape Town Routes Unlimited, there has been zero visible action and result.  For an economy very badly hit by Seasonality both in Winter and during the early summer months, every marketing action possible is essential to help the tourism and hospitality industry survive the forthcoming winter!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town wins Best Documentary Feature Oscar for ‘Searching for Sugar Man’!

Cape Town’s tourism players are ecstatic about ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, the documentary filmed largely in Cape Town and documenting the search for ‘Seventies singer Sixto Rodriguez, winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards in the early hours of this morning.  This is the Oscar association with South Africa our country would far rather be known for and proud of!

Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of Capetonian Sugar Segerman’s search for ‘Seventies American rock star Rodriguez, who was more popular in South Africa than in any other country, and who ‘disappeared’.  Through an internet appeal, Segerman found Rodriguez and brought him back to South Africa for a series of concerts in the ‘Nineties.  Swedish film producer Malik Bendjelloul heard about the Rodriguez story from Segerman, and made a documentary, which won acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival when it was launched last year.

The bulk of the film is shot in Cape Town, and shows off our City’s icons such as Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay beach, and the scenic Victoria Road between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, with the Twelve Apostles as a backdrop.  Segerman’s record shop Mabu Vinyls off Kloof Street is also featured.

Not only has ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ won the film industry’s highest award, but it has also won the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and won the Special Jury Prize and Audience Award for best international documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, reports The Times.

‘Searching for Sugar Man’ tells the story of the revival of Sixto Rodriguez as a performer, having just completed his latest South African tour, whilst showing off our beautiful city to audiences around the world, especially after the latest Oscar accolade.

POSTSCRIPT: 25/2: Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde proudly sent out a media statement congratulating ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ in winning the Oscar, and to ‘Asad’, having been nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) : “Congratulations to the teams behind ‘Asad’ and ‘Searching for Sugarman’, you have done us very proud. Both films showcase the natural beauty of the Western Cape and will undoubtedly encourage international and local viewers to come and visit our Province. The film sector is a priority sector in the Western Cape’s economy. It generates R5 billion and creates an estimated 6,058 direct jobs and 2,502 indirect jobs. In the year ahead we will ramp up the support the sector receives. Last year, we announced that Wesgro, our Destination Marketing, Investment and Trade Promotion Agency, will now take up the role of promoting Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination.” Minister Winde continued.

In improving the support for the Western Cape’s film sector, for the 2013/2014 financial year, Wesgro’s efforts in marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination will include:

• Together with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, facilitating access to national film rebates.
• Supporting commercial orientation of existing film makers.
• Exploring potential of developing local content film making.
• Developing local film audiences.
• Trade and investment missions in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry.
• Development of a film market within the provincial film festivals.
• Focused engagement with Cape Town Film Studios for investment purposes in the long film and TV productions.
• Hosting regular engagements with industry on key issues for the Western Cape in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, the Media, Information and Communications Technology SETA (MICT SETA), the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Minister Winde concluded: “Oscar Winner ‘Searching for Sugarman’ not only depicts the natural beauty of our City, it also tells the story of who we are as a people. The spirit with which South Africans have embraced Rodriguez was also shared with the foreign travellers who visited us during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We are a friendly, warm and welcoming nation. Our people are undoubtedly our biggest asset.”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Wesgro gets a shot at film marketing the Cape!

It was a surprise to receive Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde’s media release yesterday, announcing that Wesgro will be responsible for the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a film destination.

Referring to a reduced provincial budget due to stagnant tax revenues received from the government, Minister Winde said that “Wesgro already has the responsibility of marketing the Western Cape as a tourism, investment and trade destination, adding the marketing of the Western Cape’s entire film industry to the portfolio will mean that we have a streamlined and co-ordinated marketing strategy with which to approach local and international markets.  Wesgro has already started implementing plans to ensure that in the 2012/2013 financial year, film trade and investment to the value of at least R 1 billion will be leveraged”.

The  Minister said that for the following financial year, Wesgro would ‘aggressively’ market the Western Cape as a film destination, ‘to encourage as many international block-busters and commercials to be funded in the Western Cape’, would ‘facilitate access’ to film rebates (from the DTI one assumes), encourage local ‘local content film making’, grow local film audiences, promote the Cape Town Film Studios for film and TV production, and collaborate with other local film-related bodies.

While the Minister’s media release justifies his decision to award the role to Wesgro on the basis of a growth in tourism and thus income for the province as well as job creation, and quotes job creation per movie shot in the Western Cape in the past two years, there is no indication that these are largely temporary jobs, and that many of the film freelancers may have been used in more than one of the productions.

While such a film marketing body has not previously existed for the Western Cape (the Cape Film Commission being a City of Cape Town funded body which facilities permits for location usage in the main), one must question Wesgro’s ability to market an industry that it has no experience of.  In April the Minister awarded the role of Tourism Destination Marketing to Wesgro, and the organisation took over the provincial marketing body Cape Town Routes Unlimited staff, many of whom have since left.  In the past eight months we have seen no effect of tourism marketing by Wesgro, and the organisation has not even managed to appoint a head of its Tourism department!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Charlize Theron puts Cape Town on the map in ‘Mad Max:The Fury’!

Charlize Theron is causing a stir in Cape Town, currently filming the latest ‘Mad Max: The Fury’. She is attracting attention at local eateries, with her ultra-short hair, and her baby Jackson and mother Gerda in tow.

Charlize has been seen eating at Bistrot Bizerca, Beluga, and Café Caprice, and drinking imported champagne, a shame given our country’s excellent bubblies, as will be on show at the Cap Classique and Champagne Festival in Franschhoek on Saturday and Sunday.

South Africa is increasingly attractive to international film makers, and the new ‘Mad Max’ movie is one of the largest productions to be filmed here.  ‘Safe House’, with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, was almost exclusively filmed in Cape Town, whereas ‘Mad Max’ has been extensively filmed in Namibia.  Other big film productions have been attracted to our country’s beautiful locations, competitive pricing, favourable exchange rate, and talent , which have also included ‘Chronicle‘, ‘Blood Diamond’, and ‘Lord of War’.  The film industry generates R7 billion per annum to the economy. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) incentive makes it 40% cheaper to shoot in South Africa than in Europe, reports the Sunday Times, encouraging large-budget international film and TV productions, which not only create employment for our film industry crew, but also help to market our country to cinema goers around the world.

The Cape Town Film Commission has seen a 20% increase in enquiries for film and TV shoots in the past year, and the Cape’s film industry was valued at R5 billion in the past financial year.  With the Cape Town Film Studios, and its abundance of beautiful location, Cape Town could become one of the top five film production locations, according to the Cape Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie.

Having actors like Charlize Theron in Cape Town, snapped by the paparazzi and featured in international magazines, as well as their roles in international movies, are excellent opportunities for Brand Cape Town to be marketed internationally.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Western Cape EDP to unite ‘divided tourism industry’!

An announcement that the tourism industry has been waiting for a long time, that was made via Southern African Tourism Update three days ago, is welcome news. The Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde has announced that the Economic Development Partnership (EDP), launched in Cape Town a week ago, will focus on the unification of the ‘divided tourism industry‘ as its first task!

Minister Winde said that the EDP should bring together the tourism industry, currently divided amongst political and municipal boundaries. He said that the successful unification of the tourism industry would be ‘one of the first wins of the EDP’.   No further detail is provided as to what exactly is intended for the tourism industry, already shocked at the Minister’s decision to incorporate the now defunct Cape Town Routes Unlimited into Wesgro, a trade and investment agency that has no tourism experience or track record.  When we questioned Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten about the EDP and its role relative to his organisation, he claimed to not know anything about the EDP, and referred us to the Western Cape Director of Economic Development and Tourism Solly Fourie.

More important than the unification of the individual tourism organisations throughout the province, is the need to address the duplication between the work done by Cape Town Tourism and the tourism arm of Wesgro.  At its recent Marketing presentation, Cape Town Tourism presented its National Geographic campaign shared with Durban Tourism, doing expensive international marketing via the magazine and TV channel in a potential tourism market such as China, and in India, work which should be done by the tourism arm of Wesgro, but ideally by SA Tourism, having a most effectively run office in that country, and a far larger marketing budget.

The EDP was launched at the Cape Town Film Studios outside Cape Town a week ago, intended as ‘an innovative body based on world best practice that will bring economic players from across the province together to drive, lead and coordinate regional economic growth’, said the Minister’s spokesperson.  It is planned as an independent membership-based body, the province’s 40 or more business promotion bodies and economic development agencies to be incorporated into the EDP. The main goal is to address poverty, the province’s biggest challenge, by stimulating economic growth and creating jobs, the Minister said. He likened the EDP to the’tiller that allows us to proactively steer our economy, which has been largely rudderless up until now’!

Some of the organisations earmarked to join the EDP include Accelerate Cape Town, Agri Western Cape, the City of Cape Town, the provincial government, Wesgro, Overstrand Municipality, Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, Fabcos Western Cape, Cape Town Tourism, the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Fair Trade in Tourism, Fedhasa Cape, and NAFCOC Western Cape.   The EDP has been convened over the past 15 months by a steering committee led for the Minister by Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine.

Given that the EDP is a brand new body still in its infancy, it could take a considerable time for the Minister’s first task of the unification of tourism in the Western Cape to be achieved.  Boraine has said that progress in achieving the goals could be slow, and that results may only visible in ten years from now! The biggest issue is how it deals with Cape Town Tourism, which expressed its independence at the time when the Minister first started mooting the concept of an EDP for the Western Cape.  A further concern is that Boraine has been quoted as saying that the first EDP priority is the Future Cape 2040 initiative, creating a vision of the future of the province, whereas the Minister has identified the unification of the tourism industry as its first priority!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Cape Town U2 360° concert will have added to billions in city coffers

The U2 360° concert in Cape Town on Friday evening will have contributed largely to the R 4 billion the City of Cape Town estimates is generated annually for the local economy from live performances, with 72000 spectators having attended a visually stunning and extremely well organised concert at the Cape Town Stadium. 

Writing in the Sunday Argus, the City of Cape Town’s  Executive Director of Economic, Social Development and Tourism, Mansoor Mohamed, states that films and events  are the largest contributors to the Cape Town economy, the film industry generating R5 billion, and conferences and live events R4 billion each.  Mohamed writes that it is not only income that is generated, but jobs are created too.   The services and products required to host such events go into the pockets of mainly Cape Town-based businesses, which in turn will pay for rates and taxes, and thus share the burden of payment of these to generate income for the city, but they will also share the benefit of the use of these monies (an excellent example is the wonderful new Green Point Park).

Writing about the contribution of the film industry to Cape Town, Mohamed mentions the two movies currently being filmed in Cape Town – ‘Safe House’ wrapped up filming on Kloof Street over the weekend, and stars Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, who have been seen eating at Cape Town restaurants, and hanging around in Camps Bay, another location for the movie.  ‘Judge Dredd’ is another movie being filmed, and the two movies combined have a production budget of R400 million, going to two Cape Town companies (Moonlighting and Cape Town Film Studios, respectively), and their suppliers.  In addition, still productions, and print advertising and TV commercial shoots contribute to the economy.   Mohamed requests Cape Town residents to be tolerant of road closures and other inconveniences linked to these, in understanding that every R1 billion income allows 15000 jobs to be sustained in the city.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival generated R685 million to the local economy, and created 2000 jobs, mentioned by President Zuma in his Station of the Nation address ten days ago.   It attracts 35 000 attendees, and runs over ten days, incorporating local art, culture and heritage, and local musicians blended with international stars such as George Benson.   Some of the local musicians performing at the Jazz Festival have received  bookings on international stages as a result of their performances at the Festival.  

The Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour contributes R650 million to the local economy. It has attracted the attention of international VIP’s such as Matt Damon and Lance Armstrong, who have participated, and this has been recorded in the world media, having a tourism benefit too.  This year executives from top companies such as RIM (manufacturers of Blackberry), Sainsbury in the UK and Vodafone Europe will participate in the event.   Some Cycle Tour lovers are said by Mohamed to have bought houses in Cape Town, and they pay their rates and taxes annually and in advance, he writes!  “They create tomorrow’s tourists and South Africa’s future foreign investment”.  He added that events such as the Cycle Tour, the Jazz Festival and the U2 concert play an important role to ‘start, facilitate or help to close deals’.

The recent Mining Indaba, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, filled up all surrounding hotels, created a taxi shortage in the city, and filled up restaurants in Cape Town on a scale not often experienced in the city.   Delegates attending were from Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China, amongst others.    Similarly, the Design Indaba taking place at the moment as a Conference, Expo and Film Festival, is staging top international designers, such as Alberto Alessi, Michael Wolff, billionaire Mark Shuttleworth and trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, with about 37000 delegates attending, according to Cape Town Tourism.  The Design Indaba attracts them to Cape Town, the city enjoying the most glorious weather currently, and therefore making future tourists out of these delegates, one can confidently predict, and more business deals benefiting the city could flow from this event, contributing R 232 million per annum.   At the Design Indaba the latest updated Cape Town Design Route map  will be launched, marketing some of the city’s top design artists and their businesses.

In September the World Veterinary Congress takes place in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and will be attended by 3000 delegates, and contributing R30 million to the economy.   Other conferences to be hosted this year include the 4th Pan African Pain Congress (500 delegates), the World Congress of the World Federation for Mental Health (800 delegates), the Global Forum for Health Research Forum 2011 Meeting (1500 delegates), World Conference of the International Association for Educational and Vocational Guidance (600 delegates), The Southern African Association for Learning and Educational Differences Conference (500 delegates), and the World Economic Forum on Africa (2000 delegates).

The 20th Cape Town Pairs, the largest sponsored open bowls event in South Africa, was held at the Glen Country Club in Clifton last week, and attracted 36 teams from around the country, as well as from the United Kingdom, Namibia and Zimbabwe.   The gale force Southeaster almost forced a change in venue, blowing over 100 km/hr!   We congratulate our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests Phil Downs and Greg Bingham from Johannesburg for having won the hotly contested tournament.

The Cape leg of the Cell C Tour of SA 2011 takes place over the weekend, and covers Gordon’s Bay, Grabouw, along the Theewaterskloof Dam, Franschhoek, the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, and finishes in Paarl, 120 cyclists participating in the race, reports the Cape Argus.

The J&B Met and the Cape Epic have an economic impact of R 200 million each, and the Two Oceans Marathon R223 million.  Mohamed has estimated that the city’s events and the film industry jointly add more than R 15 billion to the local economy. 

The benefit of these events reaches the hospitality industry too.  Six out of our 20 guests staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay this past weekend flew down from Durban, to attend the U2 concert, and they made a three-day ‘weekend’ out of it.   Three of the U2 band members ate at Pierneef á La Motte last week, each visit widely reported (Bono and The Edge’s visit at La Motte even made the Sunday Times), which will attract more business to this wonderful Winelands wine estate.  Cargo Carriers has booked out Whale Cottage Camps Bay for the Argus Cycle Tour weekend, to accommodate its team over three days.   Delegates attending the Mining Indaba stayed at Whale Cottage Camps Bay too.

And a final note on the U2 concert – it was a ‘must attend’ concert, with amazing lighting effects on The Claw and the 360° screen ensured that every attendee saw the band on the relatively small stage, no matter where they were sitting or standing.  Many did not know most of the U2 music performed, but the performances of Amazing Grace, Stand by Me with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and Without You were real crowd pleasers.  I did not pick up sound distortion, but read complaints about this on Twitter.  The quick and easy in and out of the stadium was commendable, and the event was run by Big Concerts without any hiccups, it was reported.   Replacing the Stadium pitch for the concert cost Big Concerts R803000 alone.  Taxis were in good supply before and after the concert, and the R50 per trip between Green Point and Fresnaye was the best money I have spent in a long time!  The long sit, from 7.30 – 11.30 pm, was the only off-putting part, as the seats are not the most comfortable.   Neil Diamond is the next big name performer at the Cape Town Stadium, his concert taking place on 11 April.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage