Why filmmakers are inspired by Cape Town

21 August 2018

In addition to being home to the Cape Town Film Studios, Africa’s only Hollywood-style studio complex, the city offers a variety of world-class locations, film facilitation companies and specialised crew.

With over 5 000 diverse locations – from quiet parks and nature-based settings to bustling city streets and roads winding through mountainous backdrops, Cape Town offers the flexibility to shoot a multitude of locations in one destination. A number of architectural styles also exist in the city. Popular locations include the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town Civic Centre, City Hall and the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Bev Wynne, executive producer at Gatehouse Commercials, described Cape Town as a “top notch, one stop shop” for film making. “You’ll find crews of the highest calibre, equipment, great locations within a good radius of Cape Town – multiple looks that we are able to double for various countries.  Diversity of talent with great looks.”

In a Culture Trip article, freelance travel writer Andrew Thompson lists 13 filmmakers who have been inspired by Cape Town’s landscape. Those cited include John Stockwell, director of the American action thriller Dark Tide, which was shot in Cape Town in 2012; Safe House director Daniel Espinosa; and director of the new Tomb Raider, Roar Uthaug.

Writes Thompson: “Cape Town was understandably an easy location choice for shark movie Dark Tide. The Cape’s waters are already populated with Great White sharks, and director John Stockwell decided to take advantage of this. He shot the film, starring Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez, on a small boat in False Bay using real Great White sharks. After six weeks on the waters, they returned to the United Kingdom to put the finishing touches on the film.”

Top Hollywood actors filming in the city are also increasingly expressing their love for Cape Town on social media, posting about the city’s natural beauty, its people, the cultural experiences and the rolling vineyards.

In a FilmContact.com article titled How Hollywood does Cape Town, writer Kathryn Romeyn notes that the city is seeing its share of celebs coming through to film and play. Stars mentioned include South African native Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz, Claire Danes, Rebel Wilson and Adrien Brody.

Alicia Vikander, who plays Lara Craft in the new Tomb Raider, says in an interview with Channel24 that she considered herself “a very lucky person” as she got to spend five months in Cape Town shooting the film. “… I absolutely love it. And the people, above anything – we had such a huge local crew on this film, and they were so professional and so lovely, and also, it’s a wonderful way to get introduced to a new city.”

Reasons why top filmmakers choose Cape Town include:

  • The city’s diverse landscape which offers the ability to replicate a multitude of foreign destinations at a lower cost than other destinations.
  • Time zone and ease of travel from Europe makes it a convenient destination for European producers.
  • Cape Town has the lowest annual operating costs in the film and TV industry benchmarked against Johannesburg, New York, Madrid, Mexico, Paris, Hong Kong and London (FDI Benchmark, 2015).
  • The Cape Town Film Studio is rated as one of the top 10 studios globally (Invest in Western Cape, 2013; Mail & Guardian, 2012).
  • The film and media industry in Cape Town has an excellent international reputation, with international production companies noting the level of service provided in destination, the quality of local crew and the availability of purpose built infrastructure.
  • The Department of Trade and Industry offers incentives for foreign film and television production and post production that takes place in South Africa.
  • The city’s expanding broadband infrastructure will gradually remove internet connectivity constraints sometimes faced by the industry.
  • There has been an increase in demand for local content within the animation industry as the local market wants to consume their own culture and stories.

Cape Town Film Office

No shoot is too big or too complicated for the City of Cape Town’s Film Office, which processes over 10 000 permit applications annually.

Film permits are required for all film-related activity including: commercials; feature films; documentaries; micro shoots; music videos; short films; stills photography; student projects; TV films and productions; and TV pilots or series. You do not need a film permit when filming a wedding ceremony or private celebration or when filming current affairs or news for immediate release.

To apply for a permit or for more information, click here.