The project, titled eThekwini Film City, was first conceptualized over 15 years ago and was supposed to break ground in early 2017 with the aim of developing Durban's film industry. It faced numerous legal challenges along the way (the SA National Defence Force owns/owned a portion of the 21ha of prime land) but eventually came out tops and is now estimated to be completed in 2022.
The R7 Billion development - which will reportedly include studios, a hotel, residential units and a movie-themed retail development - is the brainchild of South African super-producer, Anant Singh.
Singh is the owner of Videovision, a production company which has brought us iconic local films such as Sarafina!, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the Oscar-nominated Yesterday, and Cry, the Beloved Country in addition to 81 other films since 1984.
Based on the aforementioned amenities, eThekwini Film City will function as a sort of film industry precinct featuring recording studios, editing suites, and offices for local production companies.
FILM: Film-maker Anant Singh is building studios in Dbn.— Phil Mphela (@PhilMphela) January 22, 2018
The R7-billion project being built on the old Natal Command site, dubbed eThekwini Film City, comprises of sound stages, the Walk of Fame, TV studios, editing suites, a Back Lot set and a Museum of South African Cinema pic.twitter.com/P2QFVrrlYz
There are plans for it to house three sound stages, two workshops, and a backlot as well as plans for an onsite film school where graduates can then get hands-on industry experience not far from where they get their education.
“The intention is to provide support for emerging filmmakers in order to empower them to advance in the film industry. There will also be a film school which will benefit from practical training on film shoots in the studio,” said Singh in an interview with Destiny Magazine.
Although the Videovision offices are based in Durban, Singh owns a 50% stake in the Cape Town Film Studios through his company and envisions the same outcomes and impact for this project according to a report published by U.S. film and TV publication, Variety.
The revenue brought in by the local film industry (including the international projects that are filmed here) brings in an estimated R10 billion per annum according to Singh - so one can only imagine just how much of that will be diverted back to Singh's hometown of Durban once the precinct opens.
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Main image credit: variety.com by Anant Singh