South Africa has long been an ideal and favoured destination as a filming location. The diversity of the landscape, people and cities allows for a wide variety of filming locations for films, tv and reality shows, documentaries and stills photography.
Location, Location, Location!
South Africa has a well organized network of service providers to the filming industry, and African Fixer is able to coordinate all the logistics around shoots, from visas for entry to identifying locations and procuring filming equipment. Much of the needed expertise and filming equipment is widely available in South Africa, though we can also assist with importing the necessary equipment from other countries.
The country has a rich history which it is well known for around the world, and a number of locations of historical significance such as Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment; The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the Sterkfontein Caves; The Union Buildings in Pretoria, which is the official seat of the South African government and where the president’s office is located; The Voortrekker Monument, also situated in a Pretoria and depicting the history of the Great Trek and the culture of the Boers; Soweto a historically black area which makes up part of Johannesburg today and is a hub of vibrant African urban culture, art and music such as kwaito and amapiano; District Six in Cape Town which was a multicultural area in the city which has become an iconic symbol of apartheid.
South Africa also enjoys some of the most beautiful and distinctive landscapes from the urban sprawl of Johannesburg with its corporate headquarters, international hotels, gourmet restaurants and nightlife to the picturesque coastal towns, like Knysna, along the Garden Route which lead to Cape Town. A stone’s throw from Cape Town are the vineyards of the Cape winelands which are a stark contrast to skiing in the Drakensberg mountains in the winter months.
More interesting locations include the scenic and rugged coastline to the south of Cape Town, where penguins can be spotted, to the wetlands of St. Lucia (on the Indian Ocean coastline north of Durban), Awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999 and also home to hippos; not to mention the beautiful; Kruger National Park which is home to the famous “Big Five” as well as a multitude of birds and diverse flora and fauna. South Africa boasts a rich tapestry of cultures from the Ndebele in the northern provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga with the marvellous geometric designs painted on the walls of their homes to the annual Kaapse Klopse minstrel parade of the Coloured community in Cape Town. African traditions prevail with kingdoms still thriving within this democratic republic, and most recently the Zulu kingdom enjoyed the coronation of a new king, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini. South Africa is also a gateway to the entire Southern African region and therefore over-and-above its immense diversity, it also allows for accessing neighbouring countries quite easily and quickly both by road and air.
Navigating the Country
The procedures for filming in South Africa are relatively straightforward and the country has a film-friendly policy. Some locations do not require filming permits at all, but if they do, permits and information can be sourced online and applications should be submitted to the different authorities approximately two weeks before a shoot. The cost will depend on the location such as national parks, coastal regions and popular urban areas. Some cities, like Cape Town, are aiming to attract more large Hollywood productions such as the recent eighth Mission: Impossible movie, starring Tom Cruise. They are introducing strategies like putting a freeze on filming tariffs and reviewing film policy and bylaws with the goal to align with international best practice and standards. South Africa has a robust and well developed tourism industry, allowing for a wealth of accommodation from five-star hotels to rustic game lodges and beach resorts as well as meals and attractions for cast and crew members to enjoy while on location in the country.
The country has a good infrastructure for getting around the country from location to location and reliable internet. The road network in South Africa is the longest of any African country and is easy to navigate. The roads are relatively well maintained in the urban areas, though in the rural areas they may present a greater challenge to drivers and more caution must be exercised in terms of safety and security. South Africans are friendly and welcoming to foreigners and for the most part, speak English or are able to engage in basic communication in English. The country has eleven official languages which are spread across different ethnic groups and regions, but English and Afrikaans (derived from Dutch) are widely used across the country.
Safety and Security
South Africa is a much appreciated destination, but has also acquired a reputation for being an unsafe one. The country has a high rate of crime which includes carjacking, house robbery, rape and murder, however the risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the areas most frequented by foreigners in generally low. Protecting visitors is a high priority for the South African Tourism Police, and this means that it is a good destination as a filming location. The South African constitution also aims to ensure safety by protecting those who come into contact with the law and scores well in Africa and globally in terms of the quality of its legal system. The country is a constitutional democracy and is viewed globally as an advocate for human rights and leader in Africa. Corruption in South Africa has recently made many headlines and deterred investment, however, there are laws and measures in place to combat this. Many issues around corruption are often attributed to maladministration for the most part. African film fixers are there to guide foreign film-makers through the processes and procedures in South Africa to ensure doing business safely and securely.
A significant number of individuals in the international film industry frequent South Africa and even call it home. It has breath-taking scenery, and enjoys Western amenities against the backdrop of an authentic African experience. With its diversity from its history to culture and lifestyles, there is something for everyone. South Africans are welcoming and film-friendly, making it a very accessible location. With the support of African Fixer, filming on location can go off without many hitches!