Film body eyes Garden Route


[Image] Storms River mouth in the Tsitsikamma
National Park on the Garden Route.
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Wendy Masters
Cape Town Film Studios
+27 21 462 1838
Mark Visser
Cape Film Commission
+27 21 483 9070

• Cape Film Commission
• Cape Town Film Studios
• Filmmaker South Africa
• Lion of Judah

Janine Erasmus

The Cape Film Commission (CFC) has big plans for the Garden Route, the tranquil and picturesque strip of South Africa’s southeastern coast renowned for its natural beauty.

South Africa’s film industry is bustling, especially in the Mother City of Cape Town. The city has become increasingly popular as a location for feature films and commercials for Hollywood, Bollywood and more.

International films such as Blood Diamond, The Bang Bang Club, and Clint Eastwood’s The Human Factor are just a few productions that are visually more pleasing for having been shot in the beautiful city of Cape Town.

Building on the success and popularity of Cape Town, the CFC announced in late July 2009 that it planned to expand the regional industry to include Garden Route towns such as Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Sedgefield, Plettenberg Bay and Calitzdorp.

“The Western Cape has become a global film and broadcast industry destination and it is important for us to ensure that the benefits of this industry are spread equally across the province,” said CFC CEO Laurence Mitchell.

Steady expansion

The city’s first film studio is steadily taking shape, at a budget now approaching US$64-million (R500-million).

Phase one of the Cape Town Film Studios is marked for completion during the first quarter of 2010. The first phase consists of sound stages and workshops, production and commercial offices, and retail and light industrial facilities.

Ex-pat Veronica Sive, now based in Melbourne, Australia, designed the Fox Australia film studios in Sydney and has been brought on board as the project’s design consultant.

The CFC has plans for the animation sector of the film industry too. In 2008 South Africa completed its first full length CG film Lion of Judah – also a continental first. The film was made in Cape Town and is scheduled for international release in November 2009.

The CFC, together with the Western Cape film industry and the Services Sector Education and Training Authority, recently launched an animation training course for around 50 talented students from the Cape Flats townships.

The course falls under the Animation Industry Development Initiative (AIDI), a private-public partnership between the CFC and Animation SA. The ambitious goal is to create a massive 10 000 new jobs in animation by 2020.

Through AIDI the partners hope to develop a world-class, globally competitive animation industry in South Africa, as they regard the talent in the country as being more than adequate to compete on the global stage. With this step behind them, they believe, production houses seeking animators will readily consider local animators for projects of any scale.

Commitment to 2010

As part of its commitment to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the CFC is working with Western Cape municipalities to help them successfully tap into the numerous media opportunities presented by the football spectacular.

The CFC has already started training people in relevant fields such as broadcasting, scriptwriting and liaison. These are skills that will be put to good use for the duration of the World Cup, as the Garden Route town of Mossel Bay will host a 2010 media hub. This is expected to attract visitors, players and media alike to the district, bringing with them unprecedented international exposure as well as job opportunities.

A further 50 people have received specific training as news-gathering support staff for both satellite and electronic services, and it is hoped that international broadcasters will snap them up for the World Cup.

All trainees come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

Something for everyone

The Western Cape’s Garden Route, with its mild Mediterranean climate, lies between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains and the Indian Ocean. The area is a nature-lover’s paradise, close to the indigenous Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma forests which lie under a portion of the fynbos-rich Cape Floral Kingdom.

The area offers something to attract all tastes, from a number of hiking trails, including the world-famous Otter Trail, to a large variety of birds and animals for those who prefer more sedate activities. Ten nature reserves and marine reserves are home to dolphins, seals and more, while the area is also famous as a haven for whales.

When the first World Cup visitors roll into the area, they will be able to visit the new Garden Route National Park. Gazetted in March 2009, the new national park was proclaimed by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk as part of government’s long-term plan to increase protected land in South Africa from 6% to 8% of the country’s total area.