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South Africa has always been a filming location of choice due to the wildlife and natural vistas, but it’s becoming increasingly popular as the country competes internationally and offers exceptional rates, tax incentives and other benefits.
Nevertheless, filming in South Africa can be difficult, so here are our tips for overcoming those challenges.
For small crews, it may seem easier to do the legwork when you get there, but even small film projects in South Africa can be complex. You’ll have far more success if you plan and budget your resources in advance.
The South African film industry is booming, and it has many resources available to filmmakers, including indies. Take advantage of them, even before you arrive. They can be a great help when developing your plan.
South Africa is a developed nation, and it doesn’t always fit the common romantic image of Africa. Animals don’t roam the street, and running water, electricity and Internet are widely available. Research the country, and develop an introduction that you can use to pre-acclimate your team.
You should have at least one person on staff who lives in South Africa and is intimately familiar with the culture, customs, etiquette and basic laws. If you have a large staff, then it may be necessary to have multiple location guides that are available to your people as advisers.
Many people incorrectly assume that because English is their native tongue that they will be able to converse easily with locals. South African English has a distinct flavour that liberally borrows words from other African languages. The idioms, in particular, are likely to be quite strange to someone from the U.K.
The South African culture will culture-shock a newbie. Some people may be taken aback by the way that their guides and translators interact with the locals. The South African culture can be described as fast-paced, emphatic and very open, so just go with the flow.
South Africa does have an open culture, and as you embrace it, it can give you a false sense of security. Be vigilant. Just as it is at home, there are people waiting to take advantage of you if you’re too open.
South Africa has an enthusiastic business community that can meet your demands. As a rule, have the same expectations and demands that you would in your home country. Be a good guest, but don’t settle for anything less than your standard expectations.
Filmmakers often take a big vision to South Africa, and although he/she may try, your guide may not be able to move mountains to make it all happen. Keep in mind that the inability to meet your demands hurts them more than it hurts you.
South African humour will likely seem odd to you, and you may not always get it, but it will serve you well to participate in the spirit of the moment, even if that moment causes your jaw to drop.
Your first filming experience in South Africa is an important one, so take full advantage of it. Keep track of South African-based associates, and make friends when you can. When you return home, don’t forget to keep in touch, which is easier than ever thanks to the social networking platforms available online.
Your first visit to South Africa is an experience that will remain with you throughout your life. When filming, it’ easy to be burdened by the grind of the job, but it’s very important to take make time to have fun and soak up the experience.