Filming as an economic catalyst at a municipal level - Ugu District study

The KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC) commissioned Lumec to undertake research on filming as an economic catalyst at a municipal level (full report can be found here). The Ugu District Municipality (UDM) was selected as a case study to identify and quantify the benefits that have accrued due to filming that has occurred within the Municipality between 2010 and 2020, and determine whether filming can be an economic catalyst at a municipal level. The study utilised both primary and secondary research methodologies, including desktop research, stakeholder interviews, and surveys with producers, film suppliers and local enterprises.

During the research, over 60 productions were identified that have been shot within the Ugu District since 2010, including documentaries, events, feature films, short films, corporate promotional videos, reality shows, TV commercials and web-series. A number of large Hollywood features have been shot in the region, namely, Blue Crush 2, Jungle Book and The Last Face, as well as a popular local reality TV show, uThando Nes’thembu, which generates significant economic activity and is featured on national television. Based on productions identified, it was estimated that an additional R147 million is generated in the economy due to the direct R81 million that was spent by producers of filmed content in the Ugu District. It was also estimated that filming in Ugu contributes approximately 2.5% to the estimated KZN film industry GDP of R340 billion per annum.

The research highlights the major impacts and benefits that film has on municipalities. These are:

  • Film activity generates substantial economic value for municipalities through direct impact on film suppliers (e.g. cast, crew, etc.), indirect impact on the local enterprises such as accommodation facilities, food and catering services, transport, and security, and through induced impact via further spending of the earnings on suppliers and local enterprises.
  • The industry creates employment opportunities directly through production companies and film industry suppliers, while temporary opportunities are also created for freelancers, suppliers such as catering, security and cleaning, and other short-term positions such as extras.
  • The film industry also has an impact on skills development and training, and given that the skills required to operate a camera, set up lighting, edit content, visual effects, for example, are relatively niche, building up experience requires on-the-job training.
  • Film also has the potential to impact positively on tourism directly through business tourism and indirectly through film-induced tourism which is widely researched and indicates that local areas can gain significant economic benefits from film-tourism.
  • A final impact generated by film is additional income for the local municipality through permit fees and other services rendered.