Location Scouting for Film Productions in South Africa

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Image by Bertsz from Pixabay

The excitement over Tom Cruise and his film crew’s arrival in South Africa to make a movie in Hoedspruit, in the Limpopo province, is palpable. So when the news broke that Tristar Pictures will also be shooting ‘The Woman King’ in a South African film location, many people sat up and took notice of the fact that film locations in South Africa are amongst the most sought after in the world.

What makes location scouting in South Africa so appealing to film producers is the diverse and versatile range of options: wine farms, beaches, deserts, cityscapes, wildlife and nature reserves, waterfalls, lakes, forests and mountains are all easily accessible and within close proximity to each other.

Impressive Locations, Crew and Studio Offerings

Film producers who favor South African locations attest to the fact that Cape Town, the Cederberg, and Johannesburg are impressive. The cherry on top is that local crews are first class and production studios rival those found in Los Angeles.

While Cape Town has always been the most popular location because of the glamor of its beachfront villas which provide luxury accommodation for the cast, Durban and Johannesburg also provide studio offerings with a selection of high-speed motion control rigs and a network of well-established production companies.

Incentives for Filming in South Africa

A major incentive for film producers is the availability of expertise from companies like African Fixer.tv that make getting permits straightforward and easy. Local crews and production studios have the capacity to host up to six large shoots at a given time, so international film producers do not hesitate to use local crews in order to take advantage of incentives that are in place to attract foreign productions.

Evidence of the expertise and quality craftsmanship of local crews is found everywhere. An entire set such as the apocalyptic walled city for ‘Maze Runner’ was built by a South African crew at a fraction of what it would have cost in the United States or Europe. Local crews are willing to be paid less for longer hours than their international counterparts because the South African government has sold them the benefits of keeping productions filming in South Africa and offering post-production services as well.

An Attractive Financial Incentive

In addition to the favorable exchange rates, the greatest incentive of all for international film producers scouting locations in South Africa is a Tax Rebate for productions filmed for four weeks or more in a South African location. 

The government guarantees a 20-25% rebate off everything shot on location and the rebate rises to 30% for films that make use of South African post-production services. The only requirement to take advantage of these rebates is to procure at least 20% of goods and services required for filming from 51% Black-Owned local companies.

With Netflix funding a number of local series in the coming months, there is enormous scope for international film producers to partner with South African companies and the government is making it easy and affordable for production houses like HBO to film international series in South Africa as well.

South Africa: Every Film Producer’s Go-To Option

As if all of the incentives were not attractive enough, Conde Nast’s blog asserts that film locations in South Africa are every producer’s go-to option, because in between filming and post-production the cast enjoy days off in luxury accommodation. 

The availability of accommodation with beds, baths and kitchens even in the bush, the desert or the dense forests of Knysna’s nature reserves, for example, draws film producers who need to easily switch from one type of location to the next. A sandy beach that acts as a substitute for The Mediterranean is a stone’s throw away from a French-style wine estate, the remoteness of the desert and the lush valley of Ceres where acres of orchards lead up to the mountains.

For film producers like Will Smith who invest in promoting diversity and inclusion, film locations in South Africa are ideal for interacting with many indigenous groups that lend their rich history, culture and world view to any movie.

With so many unique locations for filming, South Africa is a film producer’s dream and you only have to read a list of blockbuster films, from ‘Tomb Raider’ to ‘Black Panther’ to understand why.