South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has just returned from a trip to the US, where he visited Hollywood to encourage more American filmmaking in SA. He told a news conference in Pretoria that one step he is taking to boost the number of foreign productions will be by lowering the threshold to qualify for the existing film industry investment incentive. The incentive provides a rebate of 20% to 25% percent of the eligible spend in SA on a film production.
Davies said that in 2012 the film industry was employing 25 000 people – compared to 4 000 in 1995 – and it contributes R3.5bn a year to GDP. The rebate scheme operated by the dti has led to increased numbers of foreign films being made in SA, as well as co-productions. Davies said the feedback he received is that the incentive is generally competitive compared to those paid by rival locations. Efforts are underway to expand local studio facilities, and Davies wants to see a SA mission to Hollywood to demonstrate the capacities we have in SA, including animation technology. He said he would also look again at the way in which SA visa rules may be hampering efforts to bring film stars and others to work in SA.
Few can argue that South Africa is a wonderful place in which to film. The dti has clearly identified this as a growth industry, and Davies seems to believe it is worth his time and effort to work on ways to attract more film makers to this country. He seems to be showing a flexibility and a willingness to listen and to react to the concerns of the Hollywood studios.
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