Cape Town film industry bounces back from lockdown


Cape Town is one of the world’s premier film and tourism destinations, and these industries have greatly suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. As the lockdown regulations have started to relax, more industries have opened including the film industry.

“I recently had the opportunity to visit the set of the South African action film Indemnity, currently being shot at the Cape Town Stadium,” said Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith. “The local production, which showcases Cape Town as a premier film and tourism destination, is one of many who had to shut down in March due to the COVID-19 forced lockdown.


“Following the relaxation of lockdown regulations, the cast and crew have rebuilt sets, picked up their cameras and proceeded to continue their craft during this crisis, albeit under a strict COVID-19 compliance regime,” Smith added.

There are a number of productions that are currently running in the Mother City. The City’s Film Permit Office has issued 70 permits since filming was allowed to resume in April.

“This brings the total number of permits issued during the 2019/20 financial year to 5 245. The film office received more than 11 000 film bookings during the reporting year. The industry has taken a knock as a result of the global crisis but during the visit to the set of the locally-produced Indemnity, I was encouraged to see all those in the film industry value chain pull together to ensure that the sector continues to produce and retain jobs at this difficult time,” Smith said.


The industry is very resilient and has adapted to the new normal very quickly with a seamless transition, according to Smith.

“The wellbeing of staff, cast and crew on set remains a priority and accordingly, the City’s Film Permit Office, in collaboration with the industry, has developed a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to promote and ensure responsible film-making in the city.

“The SOP document serves as a guideline for the film industry in dealing with COVID-19 and outlines the basic technical measures companies have to put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace and to protect their employees,” he said.


The measures are informed by national regulations and international best practice including mandatory COVID-19 risk assessments and risk mitigation implementation measures for all production workplaces and staff, constant cleansing of work spaces, equipment and transportation.


“I was screened twice and had my temperature checked three times during my visit to the set at the Cape Town Stadium,” Smith added. “It is important for us to work with the industry to get it back on its feet to ensure that a sector that contributes around R3,5-billion a year to the local economy continues to grow during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The City is committed to evaluating how it can further help the local film industry by, among other avenues, assisting with promoting the city as a world-class film destination and lowering tariffs.

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