Black Sails will be one of the biggest productions ever to hit South African shores. The television series will shoot at the Cape Town Film Studios and is scheduled to run for three to five years.
The series is a Michael Bay and Starz production and tells the tale of Captain Flint and his pirates twenty years prior to Robert Loius Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island. Starz are best known for such epic and grand dramas like Spartacus, Torchwood, Camelot and The Pillars of the Earth. Film Afrika is the South African co-producing and facilitating partner.
Vlokkie Gordon of Film Afrika explains that she met with Starz at the American Film Market in the US last year while she was part of the South African delegation on the Media Exchange arranged by Dezi Rorich of Metal Moon. "It was great to meet with them and convince Starz that South Africa really was the place to shoot the series. We have also worked closely with the Cape Town Film Studios on other productions which included building big sets. We felt confident that we could collaborate with the studios in the Starz venture as well. One of the most important aspects was to convince them that we were capable of building one of the biggest water tanks ever in the Southern Hemisphere."
Black Sails is one the most prestigious high end productions that South African has had to date. Gordon explains that Starz is not only a production company but also have a distribution arm where they focus on high end adult fiction TV series. "Starz have a huge reputation internationally so it is great to be working with them and shooting this production here."
Gordon explains that Black Sails is currently occupying three of the four sound stages and will be taking over the fourth stage as well in early January. "We are occupying nearly all of the workshop space and at present in collaboration with the studios, we are building a 75 x 50m tank that is 1.20m deep with an inner pool that is 20 x 10m and 4.8m deep. There are five huge water filters attached. These filters are also used for the beach area we constructed next to the tank. A 40m pirate ship with a 70m sail span is under construction."
One of the main advantages for the industry is the employment opportunities these types of productions create. Gordon says that 95% of the crew were sourced in South Africa. "This is from ship builders, sward makers, period drapery, dressing and props. We had to bring in a sword specialist and rope rigger as we're not familiar with the 'old' way of rope rigs. Regarding local talent on the show there will be opportunities with about 12 -15 regular roles and the same number of deck hands."
Film Afrika has shot over five international productions at the Cape Town Film Studios since last year February. "Black Sail is our fifth project at the studios and all of the international producers who have worked there just love it. They have been impressed with the facilities, locations, crew and the eagerness of everyone involved to ensure that each production has what it needs. Black Sails will also contribute significantly to the Western Cape economy and the film industry in general."
Gordon maintains that South Africa is definitely making its mark internationally and becoming well known for its excellent crews, locations and film friendly attitude. "The buzz is out there. South Africa is a top quality destination and offers real value for money."Mad Max
Mad Max: Fury Road stars South African Oscar winner, Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy and is directed by George Miller. Initially it was scheduled to shoot in New South Wales, Australia but the production has mostly shot in Namibia. Further shooting is now underway at the Cape Town Film Studios. The film is scheduled for release in 2013.
Miller explains that the film is about Mad Max (Tom Hardy) who is caught up with a group of people fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). It provides an account of the Road War that follows and the eyewitness accounts of those who survived.
The minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies says that Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the largest commercial films to be shot in South Africa. According to an article published in Times Live, the film has created around 800 jobs.
According to an article published in the Sunday Times about the South African film industry, it generates more than R7-billion a year. South Africa’s contribution to the global film industry has grown from 0.5% in 2006 to an estimated 2.4% in 2012. This figure is also set to double over the next few years due to government support, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) rebate and the high level of skills the country offers.
If these figures are correct then South Africa is well positioned to become one of the leading film destinations in the world. In the present troubled global economy more international work will boost the industry and help to create a more sustainable industry.
The other major benefit is that with more international productions being shot on our shores, the South African film industry is well positioned to market their own indigenous films and share our stories with the world.