interview:
The fact that a destination is linked to a well-known movie or star makes it even more favourable
11 Mar 2015

The KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Film Commission was recently in Mumbai to participate at the India International Film Tourism Conclave 2015 to attract more Indian filmmakers to shoot in KZN province. 

Durban has been showcased in a lot of Hindi and Vernacular Indian movies but there are so many more picturesque destination and unique experiences in the KZN province that the Film Commission would like to highlight, says Carol Coetzee, CEO, KZN Film Commission.

Some of the popular Indian movies shot in Durban include Race, Welcome, No Entry, Fida, Hera Pheri among others. According to recent news reports, upcoming Bollywood films Aankhen 2 (Anil Kapoor, John Abraham) and Happy Anniversary (Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan) are going to be shot in Durban.   

The KZN province also has a huge Indian community, in fact Durban is known as ‘Little India’ because of the large Indian population so the filming crew gets a mix of warm South African and Indian hospitality. 

In an exclusive interview to India Tourism Review, Coetzee talks about the plans and expectations of the film commission to promote the province among Indian filmmakers and tourists alike. Following is an excerpt: 

Q. Does KwaZulu Natal Film Commission work with South Africa’s national or regional tourism board to encourage Indian tourists to visit KZN province? 

Yes we do. The South African Tourism board has an office based in India, Mumbai which promotes Indian tourists to visit the KZN province. We have a close working relationship with our regional body – Tourism KwaZulu-Natal where we explore collaborative marketing of the region. 

Q. Please share information on rebate and facilities available for shooting in South Africa. 

We offer 20% rebate on qualifying spend in SA, if you do post production you get 25%. Currently there is an MOU with Indian govt., and if we get a treaty signed with India the rebate increases to 35%.

The jewel in the industry's crown is Tsotsi, Gavin Hood's gritty drama about a young gangster in Soweto, near Johannesburg, which won an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2006. In 2010, District 9 – an action-packed science-fiction movie about a sub-class of aliens forced to live in the slums of Johannesburg – was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture. 

South Africa also has a growing reputation as a producer for award-winning local content, such as Oscar-nominated Yesterday, the story of the struggles of an HIV-positive mother; and U Carmen E Khayalitsha, a Xhosa- language film which won the Golden Bear award at the 2005 Berlin Film Festival. Documentary filmmaker Francois Verster's A Lion's Tale won a non- fiction Emmy in 2006, recognised for it's "most outstanding cultural and artistic programming". 

Building on South Africa's reputation for quality, creative film making, a string of successful big budget international productions have been filmed here, including Fury Road, the fourth Mad Max film; Blood Diamond with Leonardo DiCaprio; and Clint Eastwood's Invictus. TheLord of War, the 2005 movie starring Nicholas Cage as a global arms dealer, showcases South Africa's wealth of breath-taking locations – with Cape Town appearing as 57 different settings in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Recently we have filmed the making of Black Sails, Homeland etc. 

SA has all the required facilities for shooting any format of feature film, TV production, advertising, etc – our previous experiences demonstrate our capabilities with many international productions taking place here through utilizing local crews and equipment. We have world class infrastructure in terms of logistical support – airports, road transportation, accommodation, hospitals etc. 

Q. How has your experience been with Indian film industry? What kind of an effect has the collaboration has had on tourist inflow and film makers from India? 

The experience in India was an incredible one, with very well-known producers such as Aashish Singh and other sharing their positive experience that they had filming in South Africa. There is a keen interest to explore other regions of the country such as KwaZulu-Natal which provide fresh new and exciting locations.   

We are currently undertaking research into the impact of film on tourism and have no doubt that there is a positive influence. We will however be more aggressive and focused on packaging specific products around film-tourism going forward.

Q. What were your expectations and experience from the conclave that you participated in India recently?

KZN film commission recognizes that India is a big player in the film industry and as a province, KZN has a number of synergies with India as we have the highest number of Indians than any other city outside of India. Attending the Conclave was a grand experience as our team got to interact with the different film role players from India. We are looking forward to hosting some of them in our province in the near future. It was very pleasing to note that keen interest in South Africa as location and to hear the positive feedback from those who have filmed in our region previously. 

Q. What are the destinations beyond Durban that you would like to highlight in Indian market? And why do you think they could be of special interest to Indians visiting South Africa?

The KZN province is a warm and dynamic one, with the moderate climate throughout the year. The province boosts an array of locations. The province prides itself with pristine coastline, wildlife, Drakensburg Mountains, heritage sites and developed cities. The province also has rural villages, modern architecture, rich in culture, heritage and religion. We can accommodate a very large variety of personal choices from shopping to heritage, to the peace and quiet of the wildlife to the world heritage sites in the mountain regions. 

Q. How do you look at film as a medium to promote a destination among tourists?   

Tourists are attracted to a destination through various reasons, one being the beauty of a destination and secondly through the activities one can engage in. The fact that a destination is linked to a well-known movie or star provides an additional benefit to the tourist and therefore the destination becomes even more favourable.  We believe that we can gain further tourists by specifically packaging those regions and specific locations, hotels etc. where the stars interacted during the production. 

Q. Please tell us about some of the challenges that you have faced or are facing in promoting the province in Indian market. 

Currently there are no major challenges save for the fact that we are fairly new and that we are not known in the Indian market – we are therefore investing heavily in marketing ourselves to ensure that key decision-makers are aware of our exciting offering.

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