Growing A Film Service Culture
Durban Film Office (DFO), the eThekwini Municipality’s film industry development unit, was established in 2003.
“The film industry is not merely about the creative process and end product, there is an entire value chain that benefits from it: from locations and infrastructure, logistics and services, hospitality and catering, post production and distribution amongst other things,” said Toni Monty, head of the Durban Film Office.
The DFO was established by the eThekwini Municipality as a sector development office and is mandated to promote and support the development of local film and television industry in Durban. The DFO has spearheaded several developmental programmes to build capacity and awareness of the local industry, one of these being the Ethekwini Filmmakers Association (EFA) in 2011.
A Micro Budget Film Fund was established in 2012 and provides emerging filmmakers with an opportunity to produce their first film within a mentoring environment. The DFO established its Development Fund, designed to assist intermediate and professional filmmakers to package film projects for the broader market and increase capacity to attract production funding from provincial and national funding agencies and private investors.
The DFO has developed a Location Scout Service, to further incentivise local and foreign productions to scout Durban as a potential location for their next project. SCOUT is a programme to provide and develop local location scouts and expose young and previously disadvantaged filmmakers to the business of location scouting and eventually full location management.
Durban has played host to many film productions that have gone on to be either box-office hits or snapped up for the global festival circuit. Successful films include: Izulu Lami, Otello Burning, Keeping up with the Kandasamys (with a sequel about to be launched this year), White Wedding, the Spud series, More than Just a Game and Deep End.
The DFO statistics illustrate the growth of the industry. Its permit office works with an average of 150 productions per annum, issuing in the region of 250 film permits annually. Since 2003 the DFO has assisted over 3000 productions to film in eThekwini locations which has created employment of over 30 000 crew days. These production activities contribute more than R329 million to the local economy annually.
Durban FilmMart 2020
The Durban FilmMart (DFM), Africa’s leading film market was established as an independent institute functioning as a Non-Profit Organisation ahead of its 11th edition in 2020.
“This had always been part of the business plan of Durban FilmMart since its establishment in 2009,” explains Monty. “With the continued growth and expansion of the initiative, as well as the continuous increase in numbers of delegates, and submissions of projects in development, which have this year, surpassed any other in our 11-year history, the current structure has been outgrown, and sustainable long term strategies now need to be implemented.”
The DFM has been a programme of the Durban Film Office in partnership with the Durban International Film Festival since 2009. “Going forward the DFO will continue to support the DFM, and the institute structure will allow possibilities for new partnerships and fundraising, that will ensure the growth and continued stability of the annual initiative,” says Monty. “Most importantly, the new institute will open greater opportunities for the Durban FilmMart to continue playing an important role in promoting African film and television content.”
The film industry, like many other sectors, has been severely disrupted in this global pandemic. With no definitive end in sight, it may well be a long time before it will be business as usual. The disruption steered the 2020 Durban FilmMart to go online this year, which gave filmmakers an opportunity to gather in a virtual space to collaborate, plan, and discuss a way forward. “With such a severe disruption to our industry, it is vital that we work together to find solutions for the survival and development of African film content,” said Monty.
“There is no doubt about it: the “new normal” is not going to go away too soon, and we need to collaborate, adapt, and find workable and viable solutions. The DFM 2020 allows filmmakers to unpack, discuss, and plot new ways of going forward to the benefit of all and for the future development of our markets in Africa.”
DFO Sector Strategy
Going forward, and in consultation with the industry, the DFO has developed a Sector Strategy, which will essentially focus on:
• Growing the local business network to encourage local film business formalisation
• Encouraging new market entrants
• Growing the existing content development and market access programmes
• Attracting film and television hubs to the City
• Promoting “Digital Durban” which will aim to attract post-production and visual effect opportunities
Finally, the DFO aims to grow a film service culture through a strong marketing approach to uncover, showcase and promote the services available in the City and to build a film service community and promote Durban as a Film Friendly City.
Full Name of Company: Durban Film Office (DFO) Department of eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit
Nature of Business: A wide range of facilitation and support services that are accustomed to servicing anything from television to major motion picture
Services / Products: Development funding
Date Established: 2003
Customer Base: Filmmakers
Head of Durban Film Office: Toni Monty
Marketing Manager: Sharon Ngcobo
Project Manager: Fezile Peko
Film Co-Ordinator: Bongumusa Ntuli
Physical Address: 11th Floor, Rennies House, 41 Margaret Mncadi Avenue, Durban
Postal Address: P.O. Box 5856, Durban, 4000
Tel: +27 (0)31 311 4243
Durban Film Office (DFO)
The DFO was established by the eThekwini Municipality as a sector development office and is mandated to promote and support the development of local film and television industry in Durban. The DFO has spearheaded several developmental programmes to build capacity and awareness of the local industry, one of these being the Ethekwini Filmmakers Association (EFA) in 2011