Jailan Yehia explains how Cape Town is a film star – in more ways than you may have known.
Cape Town has been going undercover as one of the world’s top 10 filming locations for some years, but could this be the year that the city’s alter ego as the film industry’s best-kept secret is uncloaked by none other than James Bond?
Rumour has it scenes from the 23rd James Bond film Skyfall may be shot in the Mother City after Bond producers scrapped plans for filming in India due to on-going issues with red tape. They certainly wouldn’t be the first movie-makers to turn to film-friendly Cape Town – South Africa is already well-known in the entertainment industry as a dream combo for filming and the world’s most famous tweeter Stephen Fry has said that the city’s studio facilities make London’s Pinewood look ‘shabby’ by comparison. With its reliable weather, spectacular scenery and varied locations, Cape Town isn’t known as ‘The World in One City’ for nothing.
Cape Town’s experienced and talented English-speaking crews mean that many of your favourite films and TV shows are already being made in the city and at a fraction of the cost of a European or US production; the competitive exchange rate ensures that South Africa is a steal for the big screen, and the government gives competitive kick-backs on production costs. The producer of another big-hitting Cape Town-filmed action film Dredd, which is due for release this year has even claimed that South Africa makes a film that looks $100 million for less than half the budget. Now that’s a big saving.
In the past huge stars such as Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon have come to town to film hits like Blood Diamond and Invictus, while Kiefer Sutherland was there to make 24: Redemption, set in the fictional African country Sangala, but it’s not just African backdrops that Cape Town can do well. Recently The Borrowers, Lord of War, and Labyrinth have been made locally while last month Sienna Miller wrapped The Girl, about Alfred Hitchcock’s relationship with his leading lady.
In fact when it comes to the small screen even classic period dramas and English literary adaptations such as Women In Love starring Rosemund Pike are being filmed in Cape Town – as was ITVs hit drama Kidnap and Ransom 2, starring Trevor Eve, which was due to be filmed in India but like Bond was scared off by the bureaucracy and welcomed back to the South African city where series one was made.
And this week Cape Town itself gets a starring role in Hollywood action-thriller Safe House, which was re-written to show off the Mother City itself alongside Denzel Washington and co-star and sex symbol Ryan Reynolds. The local rumour mill then went into overdrive when another sexy Ryan – this time Gosling – was thought to be heading over for yet more filming, so one can only imagine how shaken Capetonians will be if and when Daniel Craig comes to town!
Excited by the 23rd 007? Count Up Cape Town’s Film Industry Numbers
3 – The number of dimensions in which mega-high-budget Hollywood comic adaptation Dredd has been made – it’s the first 3-D movie to ever be filmed in Africa
9 – The fictional District in Johannesburg in which the sleeper hit sci-fi film was set, although it was based on the real-life District 6
20 – The number of minutes outside Cape Town’s city centre that film-makers can travel to reach a variety of exotic locations
24 – The TV series which brought Kiefer Sutherland to the Mother City
57 – The number of different worldwide settings Cape Town itself has stood-in for – everywhere from Surrey to Sierra Leone
1200 – Total number of people who can work on set at one time at Cape Town Film Studios
30,000 – How many people are estimated to be employed by South Africa’s film & TV production industry – in 1995 it was just 4000!
745,000 – How many US dollars film-makers have to spend in South Africa to cash-in on the government’s competitive 35% rebate