Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.

Terry Tselane, CEO of the GFC

2009 has proven to be a challenging year for our local film industry.

Despite the successes of local productions such as District 9 and White Wedding, as well as increasing optimism among our independent feature film community following the introduction of the DTI's revised rebate scheme, the global economic recession coupled with the financial crisis at the SABC has adversely affected the local production community.

Across most genres and formats we've seen a drop in the number of productions produced in Gauteng. This drop has been notable during the past winter months - traditionally Gauteng's busiest production season - and is indeed cause for concern. Yet, it has not all been doom and gloom either.

As noted we have also continued to see positive trends at the box office - in particular in respect to locally made films. Recently, the annual CPA survey has shown that while there has been a slight drop in the number of commercials produced locally, Gauteng has continued to grow its national share of the total number of commercials produced in SA. In fact today, more commercials are produced in Gauteng than in any other province.

To counter some of the major challenges our industry is facing as well as to leverage the growth potential of our industry and build on the successes of productions such as District 9, with the Film Friendly Gauteng campaign we tonight reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that Gauteng becomes one of the world's most accessible and supportive centres for film production.

The 'Film Friendly Gauteng' campaign is therefore aimed at guaranteeing that Gauteng's locations are welcoming and our suppliers competitive in their pricing structures. Through the campaign we are also hoping to attract more productions to the province this summer.

As part of this campaign we are bringing on board locations, hotels, car rental companies and other suppliers and providers of services to the industry - including our locations. In the first phase of the campaign we will be focussing on industry suppliers. We will however also be targeting the public sector to lobby for greater support from government entities and stakeholders who play a critical role - particularly around location filming. We are therefore pleased to note the presence of officials from the City of Johannesburg.

Already more than 30 suppliers and organisations have committed to our 'Film Friendly Gauteng' pledge. The Pledge commits our campaign partners to:

  • encourage and support film activity in Gauteng
  • encourage accessibility to film locations and facilities
  • subscribe to business practices that are film friendly
  • offer quality service and a commitment to value for money and competitive rates
  • commit to ethical and responsible filmmaking
  • protect, sustain & respect Gauteng's locations

Companies, locations and organisations who have already signed-up include Urban Hip Hotels, the Crowne Plaza Johannesburg Rosebank, The Westcliff hotel, Tempest Car Hire, AVIS, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Dinokeng, Crocodile Ramble, Main Street Mall, the Central Improvement District, the Braamfontein Improvement District, Gandhi Square, Newtown Improvement District, Retail Improvement District, South Western Improvement District, Open Window School of Visual Communication, Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking, Hot Shots, Consulting Dynamix, Bottomside Studios, Dynamic Space, Cellular Dynamics, Learn3D, Sublime Pictures, Kagiso TV & Communications, Red Cow Animation, The Production Works, The South African Screen Federation, the Commercial Producers Association and ScreenAfrica.

To these organisations a huge thank you for your commitment. To those who have not yet committed we invite you to contact us.

In particular, I would also like to extend an invitation to those guests here tonight representing our financial community. We extend an invitation to you to join our 'film friendly' campaign. The reality is that a sustainable film industry cannot be built just on government grants. We need your support and are gratified by your attendance here tonight.

We have also noted that there are members from the diplomatic core represented here. We would like to urge you to see our region as a potential co-production partner and hope that you convey our 'film friendly' status to your nationals and your own producers.

In the next few months we will also be engaging our property owners to lobby them for greater access to privately-owned locations. We have discussed a number of initiatives with our location scouts to ensure that we professionalise the usage of such locations to ensure that we make use of locations responsibly.

One such initiative is the publication of our Guidelines to Location Filming in Gauteng. Copies have been included in the bags you will be receiving tonight. The guidelines were developed in partnership with the industry and sets out a code of practice for location filming. We urge our industry to commit to these guidelines and to ensure that we conduct responsible and ethical business practices.

To the tourism and hospitality community here tonight we also would like to thank you for the support you have shown. Research shows that the local film industry is a major consumer of travel, hospitality, catering and accommodation services. We therefore welcome greater cooperation between the film and tourism industries and urge in particular our local hospitality industry to mobilise behind this campaign. The hotel industry - by offering discounted media and film rates - can give a significant boost to our local film industry.

Lastly, we urge our partners to identify themselves as film friendly to the general public. Included in your bags are stickers with our film friendly logos. Please use these. Collectively we can boost the visibility of our sector, while promoting easier access to our film and media crew. In light of the fact that the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup is less than 8 months away it is also critical that we mobilise our communities to ensure that the anticipated 30,000 media, crew and journalists attending the event are welcomed across our province.

Ultimately, by making film 'everyone's business', we not only hope to raise public awareness of the economic and employment importance of the film industry but also encourage friendlier service to the sector, while ensuring that we are welcoming to media and crew working here or visiting our province.

I thank you and invite you to enjoy the evening with us.

Pledging to support the industry