December 2007 saw the finalisation of agreements and contracts to conclude the Cape Town Film Studios (formally known as Dreamworld) deal by shareholders Videovision, Sabido Investments Pty Ltd, the Rico Trust, the Helderberg African Chamber of Commerce and Wesgro, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency.
With all the legal documents signed, Anant Singh, chairperson of Cape Town Film Studios says that critical mid-year dates in 2008 can now be met in terms of the Environmental Management Plan and funding agreements relating to the upgrading of the R301 highway, bulk infrastructure and the studio buildings themselves.
“We are pleased that our contractual agreements with the City and Wesgro have been finalised. We are passionate about building a stronger film industry in our country, being internationally competitive and developing our amazing local talents. The studios have been designed to meet both local and international film needs – we want to bring the best producers in the world to our facilities here in Cape Town. The City’s announcement and Wesgro’s involvement takes us another step closer to realising this vision and we are very excited about getting started, says Singh.
The studio will be located in Faure just outside of Cape Town is set to boost the local economy by contributing to the creation of thousands jobs in the construction phase over the next three years of which many will be permanent once the film studio is operational.
In 2004 Dreamworld Film City Limited (DFCL) was chosen as the preferred bidder to develop a world-class film studio complex in Cape Town. At the time, an undertaking was made by Government to contribute R60 million towards the project. The Provincial Government contributed R30 million through Wesgro in return for a 10% equity stake. The City of Cape committed R30 m in the form of bulk infrastructure. Wesgro was tasked with managing the project and ensuring the most favourable outcome for the Government and for the Western Cape film industry.
According to Angelo Manzoni, Chief Executive Officer of Wesgro, the film industry serves as an important vehicle through which socio-economic issues can be addressed, it contributes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increases employment and promotes South Africa as a preferred services destination. To date, this is the largest commitment to our film industry and leads the way by ensuring the existence of a permanent film infrastructure which will ensure a strong and growing order book for the province.
“This is particularly exciting for Wesgro as film is one of our priority sectors and this investment has contributed to the agency attaining 83,5% thus far of its investment target for this financial year”, adds Manzoni
Councillor Simon Grindrod, Executive Mayoral Committee Member: Economic, Social Development and Tourism says “The Dreamworld project fits in perfectly with the City’s identification of film as a high growth sector. Cape Town Film Studios will be a valuable accelerator and catalyst for this growing industry.”
The Western Cape continues to attract a host of international filmmakers for feature films, TV films and commercials, and the local film industry. According to an economic impact assessment study commissioned by the Cape Film Commission, it is estimated to have a direct annual turnover of more than R2.65 billion and estimated to have contributed an indirect annual turnover of more than R3.5 billion to the country’s GDP through the multiplier effect. The development of the Cape Town Film Studios will increase the much needed investment in the sector and further drive the region’s turnover. This project brings the promise of much needed infrastructural development that offers critical opportunities to further strengthen our global market position as a leading film production destination.
Laurence Mitchell Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Film Commission says, “The Cape Film Commission is committed to the final realization of the Cape Town Film Studios project as it will accelerate greater film investment into the region. The success of the project will require full industry support.”
In addition, Mitchell lauded the revised Department of Trade and Industry’s incentive for the film and television industries which is set to come into effect this month and is expected to increase foreign investment, local content production and Black Economic Empowerment in the film industry.
“Internationally, South Africa is becoming a lucrative film destination, with diversity in landscape, people and some excellent locations. The film industry has great potential to contribute to economic growth in South Africa and it is for this reason that Absa is proud to have contributed towards the financing of the Cape Town Film Studios. We do not only see this as a contribution to the film industry, but also to the economy of South Africa and more specifically to the Western Cape,” says Robert Emslie, Executive Director at Absa.