Newly-established Johannesburg multilateral company, Zing Entertainment, is filling a finance and production gap in the film industry. The company's birth was inspired by the

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(L to R) Zing Entertainment's Leo Phiri (head of film & tv), Tshepiso Sello (MD), Joel Phiri (founding director)
difficulties of finding finance as film producers and the desire to attract private finance into the film and entertainment industry.

 

Leo Phiri, Head of Film and TV, says the company was initially formed to fill a void by providing a specialised financial service, tailor-made for the SA film industry.

He explains: "The main objective was to provide certain instruments that primarily included discounting and bridge finance. As a company spearheaded by filmmakers, who understand the difficulties of financing a film project, our role is to provide an enabling environment that complements existing financing structures."

Focus is on commercial, challenging artistic ideas that are innovative and that will be suitable to be financed and produced in South Africa.

Phiri says Zing Entertainment is able to structure project cash flows of DTI rebates and pre-sales as well as providing short-term funding for projects that are in need of cash prior to locking and finalising their production finance.

Thus, according to Phiri, film producers enjoy easier financing conditions and immediate cash flow needs in a much friendlier set up than they would experience with traditional banks or financiers.

"We continue to consolidate existing private finance/investor partnerships as well as cultivating new ones to ensure the sustainability of the service that we offer," states the filmmaker.

Phiri further explains that Zing Entertainment is also tenable in the case of producers seeking project structuring to access financing while matching the criterion of potential project funders.

"Our own investment positions us to plan the script development timelines of our projects without being dependent on third parties. In 2008, we were involved in Surviving Evil, a SA/UK co-production where we helped in structuring the SA production finance. The following year, the South African producer approached us to fund the distribution of the film in South Africa."

Phiri adds that although this was not part of their business model, the financing side of the business availed them an opportunity to adapt and get involved in something they believed in.