Whilst no targets have been set, the number of film permits issued by …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 12th May 2011

Following weeks of road closures and complaints from residents about filming in the CBD. The CapeTowner asked Terence Isaacs, Head of the Cape Town Film and Permits Offices (CTFPO) to explain the process.

Q. How do film companies apply for a permit?

A. A standard application form is to be completed and submitted to the CTFPO before the planned film shoot indicating the type of filming, size of the area, location, use of parking bays, or any of the service departments like the Traffic or Fire Department must be provided.

Q. What are the basic requirements they need to fulfil?

A. Before the film company can apply for the film permit they need to be registered with the Film Office and the City as a business partner. They need to complete an annual indemnity form and provide proof of public liability insurance prior to the approval of any film permit application.

Q. How do these requirements differ from big film shoots to the smaller ones?

A. The basic requirements are applicable to all production companies.

Q. Who do residents contact if they have concerns about a planned shoot?

A. Residents can call the CTFPO on 021 483 9066 or me on 084 9000 146 and the Metro Control 021 596 1999. Resolution will vary depending on the nature of the concern.

Q. What happens when residents have complaints about a shoot that has taken place, do they contact the film office? If so, how does the film office go about addressing the problem and how does the film office ensure that film companies stick to the conditions of their permit. If not, why not?

A. Residents can contact the CTFPO, myself or Arafat Davids on 084 3000 057 and again the resolution will depend on the nature of the complaint. The CTFPO in addition to random monitoring of film shoots, will also target specific film shoots, due to either size, impact or sensitivity of location. The CTFPO also monitors production companies that may have previously given cause for concern.

Q. What happens when film companies contravene the conditions of their permit?

A. Permits can be revoked and the filming ceased immediately. Companies may also be fined If any municipal by-law or national regulations are transgressed.

Q. Does the film office ban them from filming in the city in the future? If so, are records of these contraventions kept. If not, why not?

A. In terms of the current filming by-law and policy this is not an option and such action could possibly be open to legal challenge.

Q. Why was the decision taken to waive film fees for filming in the city?

A. The City does not charge any location fee for filming on public streets, public spaces and most City-owned locations. This decision was taken as an incentive to market and promote the City as attractive destination for filming and in so doing to stimulate the local economy through increased opportunities for both local production companies and the host of subsidiary industries that support film-making in the City. The City however does charge for the services it provides such as traffic services, parking, etc.

Q. If filming in the city is free, has this decision seen more companies filming in the city? What indication is there that the targets set have been met?

A. Whilst no targets have been set, the number of film permits issued by the CTFPO over the last five years has been fairly consistent despite the global financial crisis. It should be noted that the CTFPO only issues permits for film-related activity on public property and roads within the CCT area. Permits for filming on private land/property or for example SANparks areas are not issued by the CTFPO. The economic impact could thus be much higher. From 2009 to 2010 4 926 film permits were issued.

Q. Previous claims by City officials have been that filming boosts the local economy. How is this economic boost quantified? How are the actual figures given calculated?

A. Economic impact assessments have been commissioned by the Cape Film Commission. They could be contacted for the latest assessment.

Q. Has research been done about the amount of money brought into the city by filming versus the inconvenience caused to city residents?

A. How has the inconvenience caused to city residents been quantified and verified?

Q. Currently film companies are responsible for informing residents of their intentions to film, how does the film office ensure that the film companies have done so?

A. Film Companies are required to provide copies of their letter drops, concurrency forms and indicate the extent of the communications undertaken.

Q. Who is responsible for granting permission to film companies to close down public streets when filming?

A. The Director of Roads and Stormwater issues certificates of closure. Permission is granted on the basis of duration, impact, and for full closures of certain key roads, the production of an acceptable traffic management plan.

Q. Are film companies required to reimburse residents and business for inconvenience caused during filming? If so, who monitors the amounts of money given to each resident or business owner? If not, why not?

A. The City does not support the notion of making “inconvenience payments” as this is tantamount to a hidden cost of doing business in the City and will negate the efforts to make the city a transparent, film-friendly destination. The City rather recommends that production companies support local businesses and source local labour, artisans and service providers.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

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