The Newtown cultural precinct in downtown Johannesburg has become a vibey, trendy location for a growing number of film and television production companies, as well as graphics -, advertising agencies and the like.  At the centre of this influx is The Mills at 22 Carr Street.  This landmark, which was sadly ravaged by fire in 2003, is now an attractive red bricked and ironed building, with heavy steel girders in the interior and black metal stairways.

The Mills has six floors, and offers considerable office space.  Larger windows have been added, there is a lift and an attractive red roof and down pipes which accentuate the building’s industrial heritage.  In addition to the building’s make-over, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has come to the party, repaving the sidewalks around the building, placing cement bollards on street corners and installing attractive new street lighting, public art and street furniture.  Today guards patrol the area, keeping an eye on cars parked along Quinn and Gwigwi Mrwebi Street (formerly Pim), whilst a nearby building has been converted into up market loft apartments.

In focus spoke to one of the tenants of the building, well know production company Ochre Media. Stan Joseph, Director New Business Development explained why Ochre had chosen to relocate.

“We have worked a lot for the JDA, and when the Mills became available we chose to be in this exciting media space.  It has character which ties in with our customers.  Importantly it’s a nice place to work out of with café’s and restaurants nearby, and the access and security are very good.  Generally the other tenants are also allied to our business”.

Film, television production, post production, multi-media and motion 3D design company Seventh Wave operate from the Ground Floor, and company boss John Bonham Carter is highly enthusiastic.

We moved in on the 29th October 2007 primarily because of the energy and young creative vibe.  Town is “happening” and where we are now really does feel as if we are at the coal face of the new South Africa, something that I wanted to reflect in the work that we produce.  We also needed a lot of space for studios and post production and Newtown rentals are still reasonably competitive.

There was an initial concern about accessibility (for ourselves and our clients) but that proved unwarranted, especially with the Nelson Mandela Bridge giving us quick and easy access from the north of Johannesburg.  Security in the area has also been beefed up considerably; I would never have committed Seventh Wave to the area if I felt that we might be vulnerable.

Seventh Wave has a reputation for cutting edge high end creative work; our new space absolutely reflects this.  I truly do believe it is only a matter of time before Newtown develops the reputation as being the face of a new dynamic wave of South African film making”.

Other companies occupying The Mills include Business and Arts SA, Elements Advertising and Marketing, Fuel Café, Max Definition, Sarah Watermeyer Design, Urban Solutions and Unit 104 Production Network.  Also next door is the ever popular Kippies Jazz club.