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City of Cape Town pledges to grow and transform the film industry

Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille delivered this speech at the City of Cape Town's Film Industry Engagement where stakeholders signed a pledge to grow and transform the sector.

About a year ago I addressed Cape Town’s film industry and we talked about the challenges the industry faced and how we could help grow the sector.

But things have changed for the worse. I understand the past year has been one of the toughest for the industry and it is time for frank and open talk.

Those talks have started and I’m pleased to say the City’s staff have done an excellent job to kick-start these talks.

We must study our competitors’ strategies closely to compete globally. We work from the premise that the world owes us nothing.

Today I am here to affirm the City of Cape Town’s commitment to working hard to make this city a film-friendly destination and the film hub of Africa as well as a gateway to the rest of the continent.

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But one thing is for certain. The business-as-usual approach cannot continue because, if we do not adapt, we may not have a film industry next year.

That is why we have all come together today to sign this important pledge. It is a social compact between us as the City and you as the industry.

Only if we all keep to our end of the bargain will we pull through and build a sustainable industry that is inclusive and resilient to any new challenges.

I want to assure you that the City is committed to creating an enabling environment for every filmmaker, producer, service industry, animator, editor and set builder.

We introduced no tariff increases for the film industry in the 2018 /19 financial year.

We are committed to looking at all possibilities including a zero-based tariff for the next two seasons to ensure our film industry recovers and continues to create jobs.

Another commitment is the City’s determination to unlock more locations to shoot films.

We are working with the industry and partners to open up the Civic Centre, the Steenbras Dam and the dunes outside Atlantis as filming locations.

This follows on a demonstration of our dedication to the industry when we transformed the Good Hope Centre into a film set for use by the industry.

In the past year, we issued 6,996 permits for various film shoots.

I’ve also visited Los Angeles with Wesgro where we met with a number of the big Hollywood studios about bringing more productions to Cape Town.

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We managed to secure some fantastic partnerships and received a number of ideas on how we, as local government, can help the industry progress.

We are well aware of the film sector’s potential.

This industry is not just about showbiz and glam, it is a key part of our economy as it has created many jobs for residents.

Our City is blessed with many dynamic talents and we all need to pull together to make sure that this industry grows to nurture young, fresh talent and creates even more jobs for years to come.

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But honest frank discussions this year revealed that the industry needs to have a hard look at its operations in terms of inclusivity and access.

The industry cannot continue to benefit just a few big players at the top. It needs to be representative of Capetonians of all races and genders because everyone has something unique to offer.

It is encouraging to see that industry leaders here today will sign a pledge that commits us all to these objectives.

The City will continue to listen to you regarding how it can build an enabling environment for businesses to grow and unlock those possibilities.

As an inclusive and opportunity City, we are committed to removing any other constraints or barriers in your way to ensure that you have success while working here in Cape Town.

Of course, none of this is possible without you as our partners.

That is why the pledge talks about collaboration as well as a commitment to working together to build a thriving local film and media industry.

The pledge also promotes fair business practice and transforming the industry. This is a commitment by all in the industry to create a representative, fully inclusive and diversified sector.

The pledge also commits the City and the industry to be more responsible with the sustainable use of water and to show respect for residents and the environment.

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Lastly, the City is giving full effect to the last point in the pledge. We are committed to promoting Film Cape Town to create jobs and grow the economy.

In addition to all the commitment we have shown in the past year, and especially the past two months, we have an ongoing initiative called Invest Cape Town.

This brand initiative is aimed at changing the narrative that Cape Town is only a tourism City.

With our partners, through the work of Invest Cape Town, we want to show the world that we are open for business as a globally competitive, forward-looking business destination.

The Invest Cape Town initiative seeks to work with the key economic sectors in the City and develop marketing collateral that is open source and can be used by anyone to promote Cape Town internationally.

The City also supports Wesgro in its efforts to grow the film industry and many others.

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One point which seems to have been raised a number of times is the importance of Cape Town having an official film commission. I mentioned this last year.

I believe it is now time to look at starting afresh with a film commission and I hope the frank discussions here today will bring us closer to a solution.

If we are to have a film commission though, my only desire is that it represents a true partnership between government and the industry.

It should not be a separate organisation but one that truly represents a collaboration of the film industry and government to enable us to put Cape Town’s best foot forward to the international community.

The City wants to dedicate more resources to this sector, but we also want this sector to put in resources that will enable us to truly develop all aspects of this industry.

In the case of the events industry, the City has shown that a robust partnership with businesses can bring incredible success.

This year the City attracted eight signature events that contributed more than R3 billion to the local economy and created more than 20 000 temporary jobs.

With commitment from the industry and the City we can emulate such success.

Cape Town shouldn’t just be a destination for international productions, we must also develop the skills and talents in this sector and find ways of getting our own stories on to the global stage.

We must have a bold vision for this sector, which can do so much to position Cape Town globally and highlight the enormous talent that sits here.

From animation to post-production and gaming, Cape Town must expand its skills and adapt to this ever-changing industry.


I, therefore, look forward to working with you all to take this industry to new heights and to find ways in which we can resolve any constraints that might be holding back the growth of this industry.

Today’s film industry engagement and the task teams that follow must come up with clear deliverables and timeframes to spell out what the industry wants to achieve. Only then will all parties be accountable to each other and grow this industry.

On behalf of the City, I would like to extend a hand to members of the film industry. Let’s work together and enhance Cape Town’s reputation as Africa’s film hub – the gateway to the continent.

Thank you.

Five key pledge commitments


  1. Collaboration – Commit to working together to build a thriving local film and media industry. 
  2. Fair business practice - Commit to charging reasonable and competitive rates and practice ethical and fair business.
  3. Transformation – Commit to helping with transformation to create a representative, fully inclusive and diversified industry.
  4. Sustainability – Commit to water-wise and sustainable productions and have respect for both residents and the environment.
  5. Promotion – Commit to promoting Film Cape Town to create jobs and grow the economy.
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