In what might prove to be the start of an exciting new phase for Gauteng's film and TV industry, Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) recently announced plans to revise its industry support and development programme with a view to responding to the current local production crisis.

GFC CEO, Terry Tselane, outlined the rationale for the revision and confirmed the importance of a collaborative industry process.

"The current crisis within which companies in the sector are finding themselves is providing an opportunity to re-evaluate the dominant business and employment model that such companies operate in. Reliance on the public broadcaster (and other broadcasters more broadly) through commissioned projects has proven to be anti-competitive and in the long run, cannot be depended upon. Without dictating to or regulating the industry, the GFC seeks to provide guidance and leadership in exploring and facilitating the development of alternative business models that enable resilience in challenging climates for the long-term sustainability of the sector," Tselane says.

"For the past two years, the GFC has been working with local independent filmmakers around introducing creative content creation that is linked to an alternative distribution model. This has resulted in projects such as Jerusalema and White Wedding which have shown that local demand not only exists but that local films can be financially viable as a result of this demand. With the DTI rebate now in place far more opportunities also exist for local filmmakers working in the R2.5 - R10 million budget bracket. It is in this area that the GFC will increase the scale of its support to low budget independent filmmakers who do not qualify for the DTI rebate as well as low budget filmmakers working in the R2.5 - R10 million bracket that need support in order to develop, complete or distribute their projects."

The reprioritisation of GFC programmes will result in a greater budget allocation being made available to independent filmmakers. As an immediate stimulus, the GFC will support the production of production-ready low budget feature films as a slate of films.

"For the past few months we have actively reviewed GFC support programmes and we have proactively sought industry feedback on the impact of the current crisis and the role of the GFC in responding to this crisis. We believe that the GFC enjoys the trust of the industry yet this also places major responsibilities on our team.

�The GFC will, of course, also continue to develop and position Gauteng as a globally competitive African centre of excellence. This will require that we reduce the cost of filming in the Province and that we change from a local importer of content to a global exporter of proudly �Made in Gauteng� content,� Tselane concluded.

For more information about industry support programmes, contact Nthabeleng Phora at +27 (0)11 833 0409 or by e-mail at nthabeleng@gautengfilm.org.za