Cape Town – The Cape Film Commission (CFC) is shutting down after 15 years over a lack of money and support.
It will be closing its door at the end of February, saying it is "impossible for the business to continue".
The closure of the CFC with its 3 000 nationwide members comes as a damaging blow for Cape Town's film industry - ironically as Cape Town has rocketed to one of the top 5 international film destinations, sought-after for a growing number of TV and film productions and a hot locale for TV commercials and fashion shoots for international brands.
The CFC, established in 2000, promoted Cape Town and the Western Cape as a local and international filming destination and helped the TV and film industry with things like film permits, work visas, workshops, bursaries, festivals, international educationals and trade visits, helping with International Emmy awards judging and working with the government on issues like access to locations for filming and new technology and film legislation issues like the use of camera drones.
The shutdown of the CFC is due to the Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town ending its grant funding and support to the non-profit organisation.
After the end of this relationship with the local government, an agreement signed with George last year for funding hasn't been enough to keep the Cape Film Commission's doors open. As the CFC is shutting down at the end of the month it won't be able to provide letters of support for work visa applications after 12 February.
Cannot afford the costs
"We cannot afford the costs to continue with the service," says Denis Lillie, CFC CEO, saying the commission has heard from many concerned and frustrated people in the industry about its impending closure.
"It is unfortunate that the CFC will disappear from the industry landscape especially as the brand associated with the local and international markets is now more prominent than ever.
"The R10bn in economic investment in the film industry created many jobs and raised the profile of South Africa and especially Cape Town as a filmmaking destination internationally," says Lillie.
"Unlike the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng Film Commissions, the Cape Film Commission is a not for profit company, we have never received the level of funding that those departments have. We are the only official Film Commission in South Africa and only one of three in Africa, as recognised by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).
"The government has had internal personnel changes and policy changes that we have no say in. We were not consulted by many of these policy decisions and therefore could not influence the process," he says. "This has left us in the situation we find ourselves".
"I am disappointed that certain government agencies made the decision to withdraw their support from what we do. We believe that with their support we could have created a much more sustainable industry with more jobs, more creativity and more opportunities.
"Last Friday was a very sad day for us when we advised the industry that we were closing.
"We have been lobbying and taking different courses of action for the past three years but with little response. Filmmakers can add their voice to that lobby to try and recover the situation, but that would need to be done in the next week," says Lillie.
"I would suggest that concerned filmmakers should lobby their councillors and representatives of local, provincial and national government over this matter and insist on urgent action in further developing the South African Film Commission as an entity to provide the service the industry needs rather than just a funding body".
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