The year 2011 proved to be a busy one for the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC). This is according to GFC spokesperson, Tumi Ntshingila, who says the year was marked by continued budget cuts experienced by the Commission. The GFC also underwent leadership changes as a new Board was elected and the former CEO, Terry Tselane, departed the organisation in December 2011 after successfully serving two terms of office. In addition, 2011 saw the adoption of a new Gauteng Film Sector Strategy, which seeks to provide a more coherent framework for the development of the audiovisual industries in Africa’s largest economy.

The new GFC Board, appointed by the MEC for Economic Development, Ms. Qedani Mahlangu, commenced duties in the latter part of 2011. The Acting Chief Executive Officer Thabiso Masudubele and newly appointed members of the Board are Chairperson Nkenke Kekana, Seipati Bulane-Hopa, Terry Tselane, Paul Diamond, Mfundi Vundla and Lunga Kepe. The outgoing Board was widely praised for asserting a strong commitment to good corporate governance at the GFC as evidenced by yet another clean bill of health issued by the Auditor-General during the past year. The new Board under the capable leadership of Kekana is committed to upholding this legacy.

After six years at the helm of the GFC, Terry Tselane will be taking up a new role as Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission in 2012. Tselane was instrumental in growing the GFC from a film office housed in the Gauteng Economic Development Agency (GEDA) to a fully functional film commission. During his tenure, Tselane encouraged engagement with the film industry and under his guidance, the Gauteng Film Partnership, a body comprising key representatives of the film industry sector and the GFC, was established. Thabiso Masudubele will be Acting Chief Executive Officer of the GFC until a final appointment has been made.

In other changes, the GFC moved to its new permanent home at 124 Main Street, Johannesburg. The GFC is now part of a campus containing the provincial Department of Economic Development (DED) and the GFC’s sister agencies the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the Cradle of Humankind Management Authority, Dinokeng Management Authority, Blue IQ, GEDA and the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller.

“Although budget constraints meant that we had to cut back on some of our industry support programmes during the past year, the GFC continued to support industry initiatives. During the 2010/2011 financial year we supported 15 feature films, TV series and documentaries. As an initiative towards growing the industry, the GFC also partnered with SABC1 on a programme promoting careers in the media industry,” comments Ntshingila.

From a locations perspective, the GFC reported a 9% increase during 2010/2011 in the number of permits facilitated by the commission. While this was partially as a result of the FIFA World Cup being hosted in the province, the GFC also saw an increase in the number of commercials shot on location in Gauteng. While the sector is still recovering from the global financial crisis and the financial difficulties at the SABC, according to Ntshingila indications for 2012 are looking positive, with permit data showing that 2011/2012 is likely to show an increase in the number of permits issued.

The growth of the industry in the next few years will largely depend to what extent the GFC and industry can collaborate on the implementation of a new five-year industry sector strategy developed by the GFC during the course of 2011. The strategy covers the entire film sector, addresses the full production value chain from script to post-production, and looks at the development of existing and new content markets locally and internationally.

Among others, the objectives of the Strategy are to:

  • Better inform government programmes and policies aimed at the industry;
  • Inform GFC priority programmes;
  • Address obstacles to growth;
  • Facilitate the development of investment, content, distribution, production, post-production and audience platforms; and
  • Provide for more focused location marketing.

According to Ntshingila the GFC is in discussions with DED on how the roll-out of the strategy will be resourced.

“We are optimistic about 2012. While we will be seeing new leadership at the GFC, we are confident that the GFC’s strategy is solid and that we can deliver on the ambitious targets set by the Gauteng Film Sector Strategy.”