The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) will continue to improve its incentive scheme for the country’s film industry, which contributes R3.5 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP).
The department’s film and TV incentive scheme came into being in 2004 to stimulate economic growth and participation in the industry.
Speaking at an engagement session with the film and television industry on Thursday, dti Minister Dr Rob Davies said the scheme has shown much progress since its inception.
Between 2004 and 2008, the scheme supported 49 productions.
“In 2008, there was a beefing up of the incentive programme. It was an up-scaling and I think the figures tell us a significant story. Between 2008 and last year, the film incentive supported 398 projects,” Minister Davies said, describing it as a significant expansion.
Of the 398 projects supported, 256 were South African productions, 77 were co-productions and 65 were foreign productions.
“We’ve seen a steady increase in the activity of the film sector in SA supported by the incentive programme,” the minister said.
While this was good news, today’s engagement was not just an opportunity for the department “to pat itself on the back”, but it was rather a time for the dti to continue its dialogue with stakeholders, so that improvements to the scheme can be made.
“There are a few features of the current rebate we need to [look at]. We have to have an incentive that is competitive with what exists around the world. We need to be frank about the fact that we are a small, developing economy,” Minister Davies said.
Being competitive was not only important in monetary terms but in terms of “the certainty and reliability of the scheme, so that when filmmakers come, they know that it’s not just a vague promise that is made to them but it is a certainty”, Minister Davies said.
Changing with the times
The scheme also needed to be continuously improved in line with what is happening in the industry, both domestically and abroad.