Interest in filming in the Eden District has grown. The Cape Film Commission (CFC) has reported an increase in the number of enquiries from local and international film and TV producers. These requests range from enquiries relating to the Avengers sequel which is currently being filmed – to the new version of Dracula, many reality TV series, natural history documentaries and commercials.
A film industry workshop and series of interactions took place in George on 17 and 18 March 2014. Officials from surrounding municipalities in the Eden District, representatives of various Western Cape Government Departments, SANParks and local private sector industry role players were invited to attend and participate. The two-day workshop was handled as an open session for anyone that wanted to attend and the private sector responded very well to local media coverage and invitations through e.g. business chambers and municipal economic development offices.
The workshop mainly served as an opportunity for local role players to engage with their peers and to gain greater insight into the structures available to support them within the Western Cape, with specific reference to the Cape Film Commission.
Other, broader topics discussed included permitting processes, training, marketing, insurances, logistics around filming and ways to attract filming activity to the area. Speakers from the Provincial Department of Public Works and SANParks (Garden Route National Park) shared specific information on processes to gain access to potential locations under their control.
This film workshop was the first of its kind hosted in the Southern Cape/Eden District and, by all accounts, was a much needed intervention and a definite step in the right direction for the local film industry. It is clear that local role players are in desperate need of more such opportunities to network and learn and, more importantly, they are overwhelmingly positive about the potential of this industry if appropriately supported. There also seems to be a clear willingness to collaborate and share information to the greater good of the local industry. The discussion further highlighted the as yet untapped resources offered by the Cape Film Commission.
The current unstructured and uncoordinated functioning of the industry in the area is a concern and the establishment of a local CFC office would be beneficial. This would also ensure a closer link to the industry in Cape Town, from which overflow work and other benefits could be secured. As an immediate action, registration with the Cape Film Commission is encouraged, as this would enable them to compile a regional database. It was mentioned numerous times that a database is a good start, but that it would have to also reflect competency and proof of good quality work being delivered so as to prevent damaging the industry’s reputation.
As one of the deliverables from the first workshop, a second film industry workshop was held in Knysna on 8 August. This event, with the purpose of securing agreement for the establishment of a local film forum for the Garden Route, was also well attended.
As highlighted by the Cape Film Commission CEO Mr. Lillie, funding has been secured for a film festival, and the Garden Route is a favourable destination. Thus, as one of the outcomes of the workshop, an event committee is to be established to kick off the planning process for a 2015 Garden Route Film Festival.
There are a number of positive and ambitious actions required to further grow the industry. In particular, it would seem that a regional, large scale film festival could be a catalyst for not only growing the industry locally, but also raising awareness around the Southern Cape as a filming destination. Various private sector entities are already working towards film festivals (including planned events in Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn in the near future). There remains potential to upscale this into a large scale event to benefit multiple areas.