• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Economic spin-offs for EC movies

Knuckle City, the celebrated flick on the legacy of boxing in Mdantsane through the eyes of boxer Dudu Nyakama, has placed the Eastern Cape as a prime destination for shooting movies. Since its premiere at the Durban Film Festival last month, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), one of the investors, has already signed up six films to be shot in the province during the the next 18 months.


Eastern Cape Rising Sun’s Khuthala Nandipha spoke to Thabo Shenxane, Head of Trade, Investment and Innovation at the ECDC about the economic spin-offs of the movie shot on location in Mdantsane and East London.


ECRS: Can you confirm how much was invested in the making of the movie.

TS: The total budget of the movie was R11.1million. Of this amount, ECDC invested R2million. The balance of the budget was provided by the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI), National Empowerment Fund (NEF) and Multichoice. ECDC’s contribution was spent in the Eastern Cape.


ECRS: Did this amount come with any specific stipulations relating to benefits for local industry.

TS: All ECDC investments come with specifications of local spend, skills upliftment and local Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Businesses support.


ECRS: How has the local informal/formal industries benefited?

TS: The budget was spent in the following categories: Hiring of the boxing ring that was used throughout the film from a local black entrepreneur. Spending on all the locations used, such as the Pukwana house in Mdantsane, the boxing gym, access to the East London Port. Spending on the local caterer throughout the filming. Hiring of ablution facilities from local entrepreneurs. Hiring security. Paying Buffalo City Metropolitan for the municipality services that were needed during the shooting and salaries for actors, cast, extras, with most of them coming from Mdantsane. The film employed 1 432 people during the shoot. 


ECRS: How has the world of business responded to the existence of a project of such a high calibre?

TS: The response from the Durban International Film Festival was phenomenal. Since then, it has been accepted to screen four times at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019 in Canada. This is the biggest film festival and market in the world which includes major buyers of film. 


ECRS: Have you attracted any tangible investments for film as a direct or indirect consequence of Knuckle City’s exposure?

TS: The shooting process of Knuckle City in 2018 attracted much attention from film makers nationally and internationally. This is the reason why there is so much interest on the province as a film making destination from film makers. 


ECRS: What persuades you in proposed film projects to decide which one gets funding and which one does not?

TS: Commercially viable film projects that approach the ECDC should have at least secured about 80% of the funding for the film that is spent in the province. The ECDC will then invest in equity into that particular project which sustains and recapitalises a Commercial Film Investment Fund. 


ECRS: What is the minimum amount the ECDC you can invest in a film project, and what is the maximum?

TS: The ECDC policy allows for an investment of up to R2 million. 


ECRS: Are there any local film projects that are in the pipeline?

TS: We have signed up six films that will be shot in the province including an epic series of international quality. Some are local and others are co-productions with international film production companies. These films will be shot, in East London and other districts. Film projects have the ability to stimulate the economies of urban and rural regions of the province.


Knuckle City, was produced by Yellowbone Entertainment and directed by Mdantsane-born Xolani Qhubeka opens in cinemas in October.


Sipokazi Nxopo, Welcome Nicita (former IBF Bantamweight Champion), Sandisiwe Nobhongoza and Zintle Nondwangu at the premiere.


Former Premier Soccer League referee Ace Ncobo with Samkelo Ngwenya of Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.

Lead actor, Bongile Mantsai flanked by Gugu Phandle (left) and Awethu Hleli who plays the role of his daughter.

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