The Cape Town film industry saw a 40% downturn over the 2017 season, ending in June this year. This has driven the City of Cape Town and the film and media industry to work towards a “tactical intervention”. The City recently launched, as a joint initiative with the Cape Town film and media industry, a new online platform to promote Cape Town as a destination for shoots.The Film Cape Town website (film.investcapetown.com) is aimed at promoting the city as “the premier film and media destination while also providing prospective clients with tools to make their production in Cape Town a success”, the City says in a statement. The website is an online platform designed to showcase the city’s locations, diverse talent pool and world-class infrastructure that contributes to a thriving and sustainable industry.Permit downturnMayco member for safety, security and social development, JP Smith, confirms that as at June this year, the “film industry experienced about a 40% downturn in the number of productions since the 2017 season”. He explains that while 7469 permits were issued for filming on City-owned and public property in the 2015/16 season, only 6644 permits were issued for the 2017/18 season. Smith explains that the decrease was due to “international disruption through changes in the industry, reduction in advertising spend for commercials, local inflation pressures, the drought, and competing international tariffs and locations”. “Additionally, the industry recognised that they were fragmented and required a more coordinated approach; the industry needed better, up-to-date research about their sector both locally and internationally, and they recognised that they may be pricing themselves out of business,” he says. “Perceptions that the Cape Town studios are fully booked and a stronger currency were also raised as challenges.”Industry contributionAccording to a recent study, the Cape Town film industry contributed approximately R3.5bn to the local economy in 2015 and in the process created over 10 000 direct and indirect job opportunities. According to the Grant Thornton Film and Media Study 2015, the top three contributors were television productions at R878 m, commercials at R584m, and feature films at R500m, followed by stills production at R291m, documentaries at R188m, short films at R72m, animation at R76m and gaming at R44m.The city is South Africa’s animation and gaming hub, with around 60% of the country’s gaming and animation industry being based in Cape Town. However, the City and industry partners are now working to revive the sector.The Film Cape Town platform was recently launched by former mayor Patricia de Lille and is the culmination of a collaborative effort by the City and all stakeholders in the film, commercial, TV, online, animation and gaming industry to promote Cape Town as the filming hub of Africa. In July, the City hosted a two-day summit with various film industry players to see how the sector can attract more investment and transform to be more inclusive.The City and film industry representatives also signed a pledge that commits all parties to growing the industry in an inclusive manner. “The City and the film and media sector have formed a representative task team that has been working together to address the constraints and barriers in the industry.“This was part of the short-term tactical intervention to collectively address the current challenges and to work towards a sustainable local film and media industry that remains a vital economic contributor to the City and the region.Planning aheadThe City’s future plans are to significantly increase the awareness of Cape Town as a preferred film and media destination, with a strong value proposition, explains Smith.“We cannot fix the challenges overnight; there has to be a clear vision and strategy that we all work towards achieving, as partners. “The City has kick-started this strategy with the freezing of the filming tariff which was approved by council last month as part of a medium- to long-term growth plan.”Other interventions include the review and development of a new film policy for the City, developing a film strategy, a review of the current filming bylaw, resolving the film commission question, re-engineering the City’s film office as well as working with all stakeholders and sectors to promote, grow and develop the industry.“Together with our industry partners, we have committed to turning around this multibillion rand sector by signing a pledge to work together to revive the industry and position Cape Town as the film and media hub of the continent. “Cape Town has proven its resilience, and this too shall come to pass,” says Smith.