Construction on the long-gestating Dreamworld Film City studio complex near Cape Town is set to begin this week.

Speaking to in Cape Town, the Western Cape's premier Ebrahim Rasool said the foundation stone would now be laid for the $61m (Rand 460m) studio.

The project had initially received $7.8m (Rand 60m) from the provincial government before than attracting the rest from the private sector.

A bid by a consortium of investment groups, led by the veteran South African producer Anant Singh, had been chosen four years ago to build South Africa's first major, Hollywood-style studio.

Rasool expressed the hope that the production centre would be up and running when the football World Cup is held in the country in 2010.

The complex would serve as a one-stop shop facility with eight sound stages and associated postproduction facilities and also be home for a film school.

Rasool said there was 'a vision to bring more productions to the Western Cape and make Cape Town the film centre of South Africa if not of the whole African continent.

'There is an attractiveness for people all over the world with the city's modern part and the natural beauty unknown to the rest of the world. But we also have built up a level of technical expertise here, although postproduction is an area to strengthen and also to focus upstream on scriptwriting activities.

'I think we will really take off when we have the eight sound stages which will contribute to a stability for the film industry here and make Cape Town the creative capital of South Africa,' he added.

The prospect of state-of-the-art studio facility on his front door was also welcomed by local Cape Town producer Giselher Venzke of Two Oceans Production (TOP), which is currently the South African co-producer with Studio Hamburg International Production on the $15m (Euros 10m) German family film The Three Investigators - The Secret of Terror Castle, which had interior sets built in a warehouse in the Cape Town suburb of Epping.

TOP will also be a partner with Berlin-based NFP on Gavin Millar's Albert Schweitzer biopic this summer.

Venzke noted a word of caution about the availability of trained crew locally to cater both for big studio productions coming to Dreamworld as well as for other independent productions working elsewhere.

'If you have, say, someone like Roland Emmerich coming in with a project and taking on 300 people, they are then gone for us, including the people we have trained up on our productions over the past ten years. 'Venzke said.

'So my idea would be that opening up a film school is just as important as constructing the studio, and that can be done to start without a physical building. It's important to have a system where you are having people already trained so that the studio will have any professionals who can work there.'

The news about the Dreamworld Film City comes as South Africa's Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) introduced new film and television production rebates as from February 1 'to increase local content generation and improve location competitiveness for foreign film productions in South Africa.

To qualify for the local part of the rebate, South African films and official co-productions must be budgeted at at least $330,000 (Rand 2.5m), with producers receiving a rebate of up to 35% of their local production spend up to a cap of $1.3m (Rand 10m).