South Africa's Western Cape government's plans to establish a $27m film studio in Cape Town has received a staggering 13 expressions of interest in the project.
The public/private partnership project is seen as vital for the future of the local film industry, which has been constrained by the lack of facilities to produce full-length feature films.
A new studio would see industry growth of an estimated 20% over the next two years. Currently the film industry in the province is worth about $218m (R2bn) a year in direct and indirect revenues. The Cape Province represents 25% of national film activities and accounts for 58% of commercials filmed in SA.
"Economically and financially there is a clear case that we need to be attracting major studio productions to Western Cape. But without a film studio which would offer state-of-the-art postproduction facilities, we do not stand a chance," says finance minister Ebrahim Rasool.
Rasool announced the names of the interested consortiums on Tuesday, including Cape Town Film Studio Consortium, Cape Town Studios, Comet Corporation, The Dream world Trust, Kappa Film Consortium, Kava Investment Holdings, Mower Property Concepts, Maben Communal Property Trust, Scott Holman, the University of Cape Town Faculty of Humanities, Anant Singh's Videovision and Challenge Productions.
He noted that the proposals received were quite broad and varying in scope and the city would have to decide what was most appropriate. The locations earmarked by the consortia as potential sites for the film studio include the Comrade Hospital, Culemborg and the Winfield Arm Base, Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch, Paarl and the Good Hope Centre.
The $20m feature Blast which is currently shooting in Cape Town had to construct a purpose-built studio at a defunct clothing warehouse in the suburb of Salt River in order to film the interiors of an oil-rig featured in the action thriller, clear proof that if the region is to attract big budget films on the scale of Fox Studios in Sydney the need for a major film studio there has never been greater.