Cape Town is internationally known as a top 10 film production centre. Our natural beauty, diversity of cultures and abundance of creative skills ensures our positioning and continued growth of 14% per annum over the past 5 years. It is not only our lower production costs which are 40% cheaper than Europe and the USA, and up to 20% cheaper than Australia, but our creative and collaborative development skills that ensure this growth. We continue to attract feature films such as Mad Max and Safe House, and TV series such as Homeland and Black Sails (which you can see from the N2 at the Cape Town Film Studios), but more recently, we are gaining recognition for the quality of our animation studios.
Disney, the world’s largest animated film studio, while not new in Africa, has started expanding collaborations with Cape Town’s award winning animation studios such as TriggerFish and other studios. TriggerFish is well known for successful films such as Khumba and Zambezia which were distributed in over 150 countries and dubbed into over 27 languages. Their latest venture with the Walt Disney Company and the dti, is The Story Lab – a project to find new and original story ideas from Africa for film and television. Triggerfish is investing up to R44m over the next three years to find talented storytellers and filmmakers to develop their ideas alongside international mentors including two weeks at Disney’s headquarters in California. Entries close on 31 Aug, so find out more about Triggerfish Story Lab here.
Opportunities for animation studios are not only to create animated feature films, but also to produce gaming and other forms of animated content for global markets. Glenn Gillis, MD of Sea Monster says that ‘with our understanding of cultures, multiple languages and how to create content for low broadband markets, opportunities exist to work with large corporates to create training and explainer videos for their global offices’. Seamonster is currently working with Old Mutual on an online financial literacy tool for South Africans, as well as a ‘farm to fork’ explainer video for Capespan’s Asian markets. While Sea Monster is a small company who have created 25 jobs in 4 years, Glenn sees exponential opportunity for South Africa if we seriously address our slow and expensive broadband and if the SABC allows creative content producers to licence their work. ‘We have the opportunity to create 10,000 jobs a year and whole new categories of jobs if we address these issues.’
Fortunately incentives from the dti and our co-production treaties with Germany, UK, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, France and Ireland, ensure that we keep collaborating on projects. Producing content and owning the IP though projects such as The Story Lab, is just one step in ensuring that we own more of the value chain to expand our role in the global film industry.