Cape Town film industry back to the beach

27 July 2020

The weather was perfect and the light amazing as the Cape Town Film industry started shooting on the City’s beaches again.

Bravo Zulu – a local production company working with an international client was hard at work, creating a television commercial for an American brand.

With the country’s beaches still closed to the public due to a national COVID-19 lockdown, the set on Table View’s Dolphin Beach was carefully managed to ensure the highest sanitation and safety standards.

Even the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith, was present to see how the industry is putting plans into action and making sure that it’s business as usual, even in unusual circumstances.

Known across the globe for having top-notch technical capability and crew, the Cape Town Film industry has a reputation for always innovating and ensuring that there’s a way to make any production come to life.

Two years ago, out-of-the-box thinking was required as the city faced a severe water crisis (no longer a problem thanks to a couple of good rainy seasons) and now health and hygiene has taken the front seat as the world deals with a global pandemic.

COVID-19 safety protocols

With up to 75 people allowed on set at a time, Stefano Gazzilli – a producer with Bravo Zulu said that large sets and ambitious productions can be difficult to manage. “It’s a challenge because on a big production you require the support of every department” he said.

Gazzilli continued to touch on how well the local industry is positioned and prepared to deal with the most complex coronavirus safety protocols, not just because of past experience dealing with big challenges, but also due to the fact that the city is at the forefront of digital innovation.

Important steps like getting cast and crew to check-in daily, happen digitally with on-line technology supporting the COVID-19 officers physically on-set.

“Everything is recorded and stored online” said Gazzilli – pointing out how processes and protocols have been streamlined to ensure that valuable set -time isn’t lost and help the various departments concentrate on their key roles.

Make up artists works on the talent on the set of commercial on Dolphin Beach

Innovation amidst the pandemic

The use of technology also makes the client’s life easier, with the American-based team able to be present on the day via remote technology – integrating seamlessly into the shoot and being able to provide feedback and approvals in real-time.

With Cape Town competing against Australia to produce the commercial all of the above factors were instrumental in winning the pitch. Add in a wide variety of suitable locations and a favourable exchange rate and it’s easy to see why the client had no hesitation in bringing their business to the Mother City.

JP Smith with Bravo Zulu producer Stefano Gazzilli

With the film industry contributing about R3.5 billion a year to the local economy we are sure it’s a number that’s sure to grow as the City of Cape Town continues to do everything it can to make shooting and production easy and support this key business sector.

A promise to cut red tape, aid in organising permits and further streamline process means that Film Cape Town has the full backing of the City of Cape Town to ensure that it can continue operating safely and return to full capacity as quickly as possible.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the industry’s promise to its clients remains – no matter how big the vision or production, we’ll make it happen.