Ample opportunities for budding film producers in SA

Many budding movie-makers in South African say their companies are stagnant because established companies have more resources.

Many budding movie-makers in South African say their companies are stagnant because established companies have more resources.

They will tell you how expensive and difficult it is for them to take on bigger and more lucrative projects.

Well, making a movie is no walk in the park, but many small operators do little to help themselves.

The government has created many opportunities to redress the economic imbalances in the entertainment industry. It provides grants, incentives and other forms of support to black producers.

Aspiring filmmakers should locate the available help to realise their dreams. They need only knock on the right doors and to stop barking up the wrong tree. Simply put, they must learn to do research.

Many organisations, apart from the government, also support emerging movie-makers and producers, locally and internationally. Budding filmmakers should search for these opportunities and not expect opportunities to come to them.

These people lack the business skills to identify opportunities in the entertainment industry. Rather than focusing on movie-making alone, these aspiring filmmakers should seek other opportunities in the entertainment industry while awaiting their big break.

Producers have many opportunities to create local content for television.

The SABC is expected to feature at least 60percent local content by law.

The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) recently licensed four new pay-television providers to compete with DStv. This opens a huge demand for local producers because the new owners' licences compel them to feature South African creations.

South Africa's entertainment industry generates about R7,7billion a year. About R1,4billion of that is generated by the local industry. Budding producers must find a way to glean their share of the spoils.

Film production in South Africa is estimated at between 30percent and 40percent cheaper than the US and 20percent cheaper than in Australia.

International filmmakers are streaming to our film capital, Cape Town, as well as other centres looking for local movie partners. South Africa offers competitive prices, good locations and excellent weather.

Local television and cinemas still feature mainly foreign products, unlike Bollywood in India and Nollywood in Nigeria. Ironically, we have all the resources and talent needed to produce good films for local and foreign consumption. The local films Yesterday, Elalini and Tsotsi proved this with their nominations and victories at the Academy Awards.

Charl Groenewald, a South African entertainment lawyer who wrote The Laws of Movie Making, says: "The biggest problem is not that we don't know how to make films. We can make movies just like anyone else. Our biggest single disadvantage is the lack of business and legal skills within the film industry."

Schools and workshops offer courses in filmmaking and their related fields.

The Gauteng Film Commission provides advice to aspiring producers. Avenues of funding and support are also available on request.

Aspiring filmmakers need business skills, but this can be acquired at institutions throughout the country to manage and run film production companies.