On set for Ancestry Serial Pictures

This week, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison – an event of cataclysmic importance that launched South Africa onto a new democratic journey.

For the young, South African production services industry, this new journey meant that the world would now be open to filming in what South African filmmakers had long recognised as a production utopia. Indeed, Moonlighting’s Philip Key had begun marketing the industry overseas in 1989 after a French producer had approached him to facilitate a commercial shoot and he realised the potential South Africa had as a production destination.

South Africa – especially Cape Town – is unquestionably one of the most consistently popular film locations in the world; it has a unique basket of advantages that gives us solid production relevance and places us right up there as a tough place to beat. But that’s not the only reason. There’s something else, something less tangible, that comes from having to ride the ever-changing tides of South Africa’s own unique journey; an energy, a determination to move forward from our dark past and prove ourselves on the world stage. The combination makes us a force to be reckoned with.

Those advantages put us on the international production services map 30+ years ago and have grown to include a few comfort factors for the ever-cosmopolitan traveller:

  • our Southern hemisphere climate that gives us summer when much of the world has winter and need to shoot their summer campaigns;
  • our range of diverse locations within a 2-hour radius of the city that can replicate pretty much anywhere in the world;
  • our world class crew, who are continually rated as among the best in the world, thanks to the flow of international short and long-form projects that shoots here and the immeasurable work experience and skills transfer it brings;
  • a generally weaker currency that gives a lot of bang for your buck;
  • our diverse talent pool, increased in season by the number of international models who base themselves here;
  • flight access: we’re a simple, overnight flight from Europe with only 1-2 hours’ time difference + there is now a direct flight from New York
  • our crew speak English as well as at least 2 African languages
  • our world class sound stages at Cape Town Film Studios
  • Cape Town is a leading tourist destination with world-class hotels and some of the best restaurants in the world (worthy of their own blog post – coming soon).

They give us a head-start in a fiercely competitive, ever-growing global landscape. We compete with many different countries at different times for different reasons, whether it’s because they are the new “in” place to shoot or because they have a weak currency. Competition is good. It keeps us on our toes and makes us fight to make sure we stay ahead of the pack and keep the business coming.

I’m not sure however that any country can consistently compete with our do-or-die attitude, our passion for this beautiful country of ours and for showing the world what we’re about. It works for our clients because it means we will always fight to ensure the best, most competitive, professional environment, whether it’s about us lobbying the suppliers to keep their rates down, lobbying government to relax visa rules or negotiating with talent agents. We all take a collective responsibility to drive our country forward. It’s deeply personal. We take nothing for granted – and it shows in our work ethic.

Afrikaans has a word for it: “gees” or spirit. You put that behind our natural advantages and you get magic.

– Beccy Kellond, Marketing / Partner Moonlighting






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