In bed over the weekend with a bad back, I took the opportunity to catch up on a couple of movies Made in Cape Town.
The first – Wes Craven’s The Breed – was shot on Steenbras Dam, a beautiful stretch of water just over Sir Lowry’s Pass on the way out of town from Somerset West – where it was playing stand-in for an unnamed island somewhere off the coast of North America.
Now I wasn’t expecting much from this film, and I wasn’t therefore disappointed. Five sketchily drawn friends (the good jock, the bad jock, the sporty girl, the ditzy blonde and the token black guy) de-camp to an isolated island off the coast, where they fall prey to a pack of super-intelligent killer sheepdogs. (I kid you not.) It’s hardly great or ground-breaking film making, and it’s really, really hard to be scared by Belgian Shepherds.
Yet, in spite of the weak and sometimes inexplicable storyline, I thought Steenbras performed rather well. And SA actors Nick Boraine and Lisa Marie Schneider get their asses whumped early in the story line, which is always fun…..
Back in October 2003, there was international news about a new movie studio to be built in Cape Town. And then, nothing except silence, rumour and doubt. So it’s something of a relief that South Africa’s Mail & Guardian Newspaper is finally able to report:
“The City of Cape Town is making R30-million available to restart the development of the Dreamworld Film City project, which is still hoping to turn the eastern suburbs of Cape Town into a southern-hemisphere Hollywood. …..Simon Grindrod, mayoral committee member for economic development and tourism, said “This project represents the single biggest opportunity to secure billions of rands’ more income for the city in terms of film production and associated industries,” he said. “The Cape Town film industry is estimated to be worth R20-billion.”
Now, this is all very lovely. The folks behind Dreamworld are some of our industry’s finest, and if anyone can make this studio work, it’s them.
But the City’s approach – funding a film studio when the City’s own Film Permit Office remains under-funded, ill-equipped, understaffed and restrained by all sorts of bureaucratic nonsense – is wrong-headed. Indeed, the film industry’s lack of confidence in the City is at such high levels that some 250 Cape-based producers and locations professionals issued a manifesto via the CFC to the Department of Economic Development Councillor just before Christmas, in a desperate attempt to get the city to listen to their concerns.
Funding for the Film Studio is really great news. Being able to reliably and professionally access permits to film in City streets, parks, buildings and beaches would be even better. Or maybe I’m just living in a dream world?