Gambit Films forges path to Hollywood with authentic storytelling

25 January 2021

IT was in 2009 when a group of creatives came together to establish a film and television production company in Cape Town.

More than a decade later, that company – Gambit Films – has produced one of Netflix’s standout original series and more than 1200 episodes of one of South Africa’s popular daily soap operas.

“From the time we started this company, it was always our ambition to produce content locally that could be watched by the world. Stories with universal appeal,” Gambit Films CEO Bradley Joshua tells Film Cape Town during a visit to the Atlantis Film Studios.

The production company has over the last 11 years done exactly that, delivering Netflix original series Blood and Water, award-winning feature film Nommer 37.

Gambit Films CEO Bradley Joshua speaks to Film Cape Town about the company's success over the last decade

It has also produced the first Cape Town-based Afrikaans soap opera Suidooster.

“It was a long journey for us. We’ve always felt Hollywood was the holy grail. We were always working towards that,” Joshua says.

“Obviously with the changing time, the streaming services have changed the way in which people consume content and they’ve opened up people’s eyes to content round the world.”

The evolution of streaming services has further shortened Gambit Film’s path to the international market.

Blood and Water

When Netflix came knocking a few years ago, this presented Gambit Films with an opportunity to reach more than 190 million viewers worldwide.

After developing the story in collaboration with Netflix, Joshua says, the intention was to gain more traction in the US.

“But once Blood and Water went live, it just took off,” he adds.

“It was beyond our expectation that it would go top 10 in many countries including the US, UK and France.

“We felt that we had created something good but we didn’t expect it to be received that well. We are grateful for the support.”

Following the success of Season 1 of Blood and Water, Netflix has confirmed Season 2 of the Cape Town-Produced and Filmed series which will return to the streaming service.

There’s not release date yet.

BTS from Indemnity. Photo: Lindsey Apollis

Indemnity and COVID-19 outbreak

Gambit Films was filming its next project, Indemnity when the global COVID-19 outbreak brought production to a halt.

The action thriller follows an ex-Cape Town fireman on the run after being falsely accused of killing his wife.

Gambit Films had been developing the feature film for 8 years and finally began filming in March 2020. But came to a stop three weeks into production.

“We were trying to figure out how to keep going, move forward while we keep our people safe and give them peace of mind,” Joshua recalls.

When it resumed after a two-month hiatus, the set of Indemnity was one of the first to implement COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols.

“We worked with authorities a lot, (national) government, the City of Cape Town to understand the rules and protocols. We were also trying to figure out how to retain jobs within those protocols.”

The strict protocols included three screening stations, only on call actors were allowed on set and various departments had to stay within their ‘bubbles’.

Indemnity is currently in post-production while Season 2 filming of Blood and Water is in the works in Cape Town.