Table of Contents
Analysis and discussion
Globalisation has had a considerable impact on the trends and patterns within the contemporary film industry. Traditionally, global film and television products were dominated by Western countries especially the United States in what some scholars have referred to as ‘global Hollywood’. ‘Global Hollywood’ does not only refer to films produced in Southern California but the influence of American film or pop culture on the relations and flows of film products around the world (Goldsmith, et al., 1). Apart from production, distribution and consumption of Hollywood films, companies, artists and even governments from all around the world are now involved in film production through cooperation with Hollywood partners (Rosnan, et al., 328). Meanwhile, in the recent past, Hollywood has increasingly regarded South Africa industry as a potential international film market (Tomaselli and Mboti, 4). On the other hand, the emerging South African industry can leverage on the success of Hollywood movies to develop local content for global consumers. For instance, South Africa produced award winning local content films such as Oscar nominated, Yesterday and U Carmen E Khayalitsha produced in Xhosa language (Brand South Africa, para. 7) . Film producers and marketers from around the world are also attracted to South Africa due to the availability of highly skilled film crews and technicians, good infrastructure and weather. Based on these findings, the paper explores the appropriation of global influences to the South African film production.
Analysis and discussion
In the last few decades, the global film industry has shifted from production and circulation of film products around the world to shifting production locations from parent countries such as United States to foreign locations such as South Africa. Due to this new trend, several Hollywood movies have been produced in South Africa in the last two decades. According to Brand South Africa, South Africa’s vibrant and growing film industry has enhanced its reputation internationally leading to major partnerships between Hollywood producers and local film makers (para. 1). The globalization of the film business has subsequently impacted on South Africa in different ways. For instance, South Africa has gained from this experience leading to development of successful local film industry. Through globalization, South Africa is able to develop films that focus on their lost histories and local stories for the global audience. As a result, the number of local films increased steadily every year. For example, in 2009, 13 local films were released compared to 23 which were released in 2012 (Brand South Africa, para. 9-11). In 2017, 222 films were released in South Africa. Sadly, only 23 of these films were developed in the country with two being co-produced between South Africa and US and French studios (Tomaselli, Keyan and Mboti, 20). Nonetheless, local and foreign film makers are still attracted to the unique and diverse locations within the country, low production costs and favorable exchange rates thus making film production in South Africa cheaper compared to Europe and United States.
Consequently, the contemporary film industry now plays a significant role in the South African economy. For instance, the industry is growing as a considerable contributor of foreign exchange and acting as a conduit for technology and skills transfer. Recent estimates put revenues from film industry in 2018 at R5.5 billion (Brand South Africa, para. 3). The industry has also created numerous jobs. These job opportunities are attributed to emergence of new companies in production, post-production, casting, crewing, equipment hire, set design and property supply. Moreover, activities associated with film industry are also creating jobs in the transport, catering and hospitality industries. Though, the complex and fluid structure of the film industry makes it difficult to estimate its actual economic value or contribution, the Department of Trade and Industry estimated that the entire South Africa entertainment industry was valued at around R7.4 billion with film and television generating more than R5.8 billion in economic activity annually. On the other hand, Cape Film Commission valued direct annual turnover of the film industry at R2.65 billion and indirect annual turnover at more than R3.5 billion (Tomaselli, Keyan and Mboti, 20). This rapid rise of South Africa’s film in the last two decades could not have happened without cooperation with other international industries.
The benefits of the rapidly expanding film industry are clear. As highlighted earlier, the industry has increased foreign direct investment into the country, transfer of skills and technologies, employment opportunities and improving the country’s international reputation (Treffry-Goatley, 19). As a result of cooperation with international film industries such as Hollywood, South Africa improved its revenue collection from film licensing and other activities associated with management of intellectual property. Just as other national film industries, South Africa film has also invested in the policies and legal specifics of multilateral trade agreements such as copyrights. Due to the size and global reputation of Hollywood, it has significantly impact on the net revenues earned from South African films. In the last decade, GDP contribution from film industry has increased significantly. According to National Film and Video Foundation, the industry contributed R5.4 billion (approximately $464 million) to the country’s GDP in 2016 and 2017 (Brand South Africa, para. 6). Due to cooperation, South Africa’s film industry gained in terms of skills transfer, better technology and commercialization. Furthermore, co-productions led to direct investments of millions of Rand into the economy. So far, South Africa has co-production treaties with Western countries such as Canada, Germany, Italy and UK. South Africa also has a memorandum of understanding in relation to film with India (Rosnan, Herwina, et al., 330). These memoranda and treaties make South Africa’s film makers eligible to benefits and assistance programmes from any of the partner states.
The local film industry is also credited for promotion of South African culture to the rest of the world. Normally, a society is reflected in its movies. When these movies go international, they will have the power to influence the representation of the society, challenge the morals of the audience and transform opinions of the viewers. In South Africa, cinema has become a powerful vehicle for culture, leisure as well as education (Treffry-Goatley, 17). With the proportion of the population that reads diminishing, cinema is even happing greater impact than books and newspapers. For example, movies are now created to enhance awareness on the value of education, art, sports and political participation. South African films are also enhancing awareness on dangers of drugs, alcohol and participation in criminal activities. Movie collaboration with international film makers have also brought to light various life challenges in South Africa such as homelessness and unemployment. In addition, socially enlightening films can assist South African audience to understand a sense of responsibility and empathy towards others thus doing their part in helping humanity (Treffry-Goatley, 29).
Collaboration between Western film makers and local producers is one of the emerging forms of destination marketing. South Africa will therefore benefit from the high numbers of films being shot in the country to promote its tourism products. For instance, studies showed that New Zealand tourism boomed following the Lord of Rings trilogy. Based on the film, New Zealand became synonymous with the ‘middle earth’ with Air Zealand painting its livery with Hobbit-themed images (Rosnan, Herwina, et al., 329). Similarly, Visit Britain campaign also integrated Bond film’s Skyfall scenes. South Africa can use this strategy to increase interests among global audience willing to travel to South Africa. However, regarding South Africa’s film industry, questions still remain given that significant number of films in the past painted a dark story on South Africa while recent films have been criticised for lacking an appropriate diversity. Nevertheless, many people will still travel to the country if more beautiful scenes in the country are portrayed in both local and international films. Most tourists are motivated with the long term relationship they develop with a film thus even a dark story can plot perfectly into positive tourism bumps (Treffry-Goatley, 59). The audience will tap into those themes which have become famous with a particular movie. As a result, destination marketing through films promotes films thus leading to profits for hotels, airlines and restaurants.
Films are important medium of communication in the contemporary world. Unlike the mainstream media, films make audience to understand a given phenomenon in a more enlightening way. Globalisation of the film industry has also opened an opportunity for South Africans to engage in discussions of sensitive topics which are represented as normal in other parts of the world such as homosexuality and racism. According to the Cultural Industries Growth Strategy (CIGS) study conducted by DACST on South African film industry found that the industry is play important role as a medium of communicating ideas, information and ideology and providing a platform to discuss and debate social and public life (Visser, 6). Nevertheless, the industry still suffered from limited access to financing and facilities, insufficient audience development and few training opportunities for film makers and artists. Goldsmith et al suggested that there is a lack of understanding regarding the needs of market of the South African film makers (11). CIGS study suggests that the entry of international film makers and producers in the South African market is assisting in alleviation of some of these challenges. For instance, South African film makers have now adopted a new business oriented model that helps to improve commercialization and marketing of local content. This competitive production model is less capital intensive, independent from foreign assistance and putting more emphasis on the local market.