South Africa Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in South Africa? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in South Africa
For an introduction to shooting in South Africa see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, fringes, premiums, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
South Africa Film Locations
South Africa has long been a popular film destination, particularly for European productions looking for opposite season looks in a similar timezone.
South Africa’s vast variety of unique and international location looks continues to attract productions from all over the world. Of particular note are South Africa’s diversity of cityscapes and neighborhoods, modern villas with expansive vistas, African savannah, mountains (some with snow), a variety of roads ideal for car commercials, white sand beaches, picturesque forests with lakes, and sports stadiums (including several major stadiums built across the country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup).
Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are the main production centres.
South Africa is the most established production service centre in Africa and as such is a resource to much of the rest of the continent in terms of specialised crews and equipment.
South Africa has hosted a long list of TV and commercial stills shoots as well as long-form productions including The Crown (2016), District 9 (2009), Invictus (2009), Blood Diamond (2006), Lord of War (2005), and Hotel Rwanda (2004). Long used to double for other African countries, South Africa has also been used to double for locations as diverse as Washington DC, Kabul, and Las Vegas.
South African locations of interest to visiting filmmakers and photographers can be divided into several regions:
Pretoria is the capital of South Africa. The city is famous for its thousands of jacaranda trees, National Botanical Garden, universities, Union Buildings, and the Voortrekker Monument.
Johannesburg is Southern Africa’s largest city. It is the economic heart of Africa and the most common entry point into Southern Africa. Locations of note include the busy city centre, Neighbourgoods Market, Johannesburg City Hall, Constitution Hill, and Ponte City Tower which featured in District 9 (2009). Carlton Centre observation deck offers shots of the city from above. Soweto township is located on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The Lion & Safari Park is located an hour drive from Johannesburg.
Nestled between the South Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Cape Town is world renowned for its vast variety of film locations within an hour drive from the city centre including its central business district, modern and old-world locations, neighborhoods, hillside communities, promenade, parks, beaches, cliffs, and ocean.
Beaches of note include Clifton Beaches, Bakoven Beach and Llandudno Beach. Boulders Beach has penguins. Muizenberg has colourful Victorian bathing houses lining the beach. Chapman’s Peak Drive “Chappies” is one of the world’s most beautiful coastal roads. Macassar Beach Pavilion is an abandoned water park overtaken by beach dunes. Camps Bay has many beautiful mansions. Bo Kaap is a neighborhood with brightly coloured buildings. Parks of note include Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and Company’s Garden. The Cape of Good Hope is a beautiful natural location. Cape Town City Hall is one old-world building of note. The South African Astronomical Observatory has space telescopes available for filming. Cheetah Outreach is a nature preserve. Cape Winelands is South Africa’s wine producing region. Robben Island is another location of note in Cape Town.
Cape Town’s magnificent coastline and status as one of the windiest city on earth, makes it a destination for ocean-bound shoots. Tall ships, fishing boats, and a range of other seafaring vessels are available for filming.
Beyond the Cape Town area, the region of Western Cape has several other locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers. Ceres is home to the beautiful modern Bosjes Chapel. Gansbaa has shark cage diving. Cango Caves is the largest cave system in Africa. Swartberg Pass is a rugged mountain road great for filming car commercials. Birds of Eden is the world’s largest free flight aviary and bird sanctuary. Garden Route National Park is known for its high forested mountains and beaches.
Eastern Cape is known for its spectacular coastline. Beaches of note include Port Elizabeth, East London and Jeffreys Bay, the surfing mecca of South Africa. National parks of note include Tsitsikamma National Park, Addo Elephant National Park, Camdeboo National Park, and Kragga Kamma Game Park. Bloukrans Bridge is a spectacular structure. Tiffindell Ski Resort is South Africa’s only ski resort.
The Northern Cape is famous for its diamond mines. Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape. Upington is a good base for filming the Kalahari desert, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River. Other natural locations of note in the Northern Cape include Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and Mokala National Park. Southern African Large Telescope is also located in this part of South Africa. Okiep is a small mining town that doubled for Ethiopia in the opening scene of Uncut Gems (2019).
Free State is a major agricultural area and the heartland of the white Afrikaaner population. Crops are as diverse as cherry orchards, to asparagus farms, to wheat fields. Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa.
KwaZulu-Natal is known for its beaches, waterfalls, mountains and savannah populated by big game. The city of Durban has African, Indian and colonial influences. The Memorial Tower Building at the University of Kwazulu Natal is an impressive structure. Newcastle is a large industrial city. Sani Pass is a rugged mountain road. Natural locations of note include Royal Natal National Park, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, African Bird of Prey Sanctuary, Howick Falls, and Tugela Falls (the world’s second highest waterfall). Sugarcane plantations can be found along the Indian Ocean coast.
This region is home to Sun City resort, Pilanesburg National Park, and the world’s richest platinum reserves. The North West is cattle country. You can also find an abundance of corn and sunflower fields.
Mpumalanga is known for the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve and Timbavati Game Reserve. Nelspruit is the gateway to Mozambique and the southern section of the Kruger National Park. Mpumalanga is rich in coal reserves. The area is known for its many citrus and subtropical fruit orchards.
Limpopo is known for bushveld and wildlife reserves including Kruger National Park, Welgevonden Game Reserve, Dinokeng Game Reserve, and Kapama Game Reserve. Polokwane is a good jump off point for shoots in the northern parts of the Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe. Limpopo is home to a wide variety of agricultural crops as diverse as sunflowers, cotton, corn, tropical fruit, tea and coffee plantations.
Located in the Southern Ocean, Marion Island and Prince Edward Island are territories of South Africa.
South Africa Film Location Permits
South Africa has a film friendly and streamlined permitting process, with a number of privately owned locations as well as those that run through the film office. Citywide permits are available for filming b-roll at public locations. For more complicated shoots that require large setups or shutting down city streets, allow at least 2 weeks for permitting. It’s recommended to shoot downtown streets on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday. Drone filming is permitted in South Africa. Please contact us for location specific information.
When To Shoot?
South Africa’s climate is generally sunny and pleasant, but there is considerable regional variation. The north-west is very arid, the south is temperate, and the north-east has a more tropical climate. Winters (May to August) are generally mild, particularly in the Western Cape. Most of the rest of the country receives only a brief cold spell, with snow falling on the mountain ranges. The rainiest months in Cape Town are May to August. Johannesburg receives most of its annual rainfall in the summer (November to March) making it a great weather film destination for the winter months. During mid-summer South Africa experiences 15 hours of daylight. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Kaapse Klopse (Cape Minstrel Carnival) takes place in January. The Royal Reed Dance is a traditional Zulu event taking place in September. For underwater photographers, the annual Sardine Run takes place from June to July.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in South Africa.
Unique Local Stories
Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.
If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.
If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.
Costs & Tax Incentives
Costs. South Africa is a relatively cost efficient production centre given the rate of exchange of most currencies against the South African Rand. That, along with the established industry and professional infrastructure means South Africa offers great value for money. Our South African service producer / fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. South Africa offers a rebate of up to 25% for qualifying productions.
Film Crew & Talent
Crews. South Africa has a good pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. The majority have local and international experience. There is a great depth of skilled, hard working, dedicated, professional and technical crews. There are a number of DGA accredited ADs based in South Africa. Crews are non-union.
Contact us if you are looking for a Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in South Africa.
Talent. South Africa has a diverse range of people that can fulfill the majority of casting requirements from extras, to characters, to actors and models both local and international. A large number of international models spend the summer months in Cape Town. Talent is non-union and although buyouts are worked out on guideline percentages, these are somewhat negotiable.
South Africa is also home to a wealth of animal actors ranging from big safari animals through to domestic pets.
Fringes & Premiums. No hidden extras. South Africa works on a 10 hour day with one hour break for lunch. Overtime is charged at time and a half for the next 4 hours and double time after that. Sundays, public holidays, the first night of a night shoot and the seventh consecutive day of filming are charged at time and a half. Gear checks, travel days and technical recces are charged at a half day rate providing they do not exceed 6 hours. Turnaround is 10 hours. Travel time is charged when the location is further than 40 minutes from the city centre.
South Africa Film Equipment
Equipment. As you would expect to find in any other established film production centre, South Africa has as an extensive range of standard and specialized camera, lighting and grip equipment available locally. Examples of available equipment include: Motion Control, Cineflex, Phantom, Red, and the Freedom Arm (a fully digital gyro-stabilized camera crane). For productions looking to bring in film equipment South Africa is an ATA carnet country.
Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Art department and set construction is of a very high standard. South African Art Directors have worked with most countries and are flexible and used to the demands of international clients both for commercials and features.
Studios and backlots. South Africa has various studio sizes from large sound stages to small pack shot studios.
Post Production. South Africa no longer has any labs. South Africa is a well established centre for post and animation with various options for VFX and CGI work.
Visas & Work Permits
Entry is subject to regulations from country of origin. Contact your local South African embassy or representative for more information. Generally speaking visiting crews are divided into an Oversight Group (i.e. client, agency and production company personnel) and the Specialist Group (i.e actors, models, directors, technicians and the art department).
The Oversight Group from visa exempt countries can travel to South Africa without pre-applying at a South African Embassy or Consulate and will be allowed entry by presenting the relevant form, their travel itinerary and a letter from the South African Production Company to the immigration officials at the airport, their passports will then be endorsed with the relevant authorisation.
The ‘Specialist Group’ must still apply, in advance, to their local South African Embassy or Consulate, however, the requirements are streamlined to the relevant form, travel itinerary and the letter from the South African Production Company.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation Infrastructure. Main roads are up to international standards. Several international airlines service flights to South Africa.
Accommodation. South Africa offers a wide range of accommodation options including luxury hotels, business hotels, boutique hotels, villas, houses on the beach, and serviced apartments. Please contact us for film friendly hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We are able to offer considerable discounts on the normal rack rates. Hotels of note include:
Safety. While South Africa does have a crime problem compared to some countries, most of the crime is isolated to certain areas. The country is far from lawless. South Africa continues to be an extremely popular filming destination with hundreds of productions shot and visiting producers returning frequently. See here for up to date travel advice.
Down Time. Sunday afternoon braai with the locals with a glass of South African wine.
Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in South Africa, please see below:
Hire South Africa Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in South Africa, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in South Africa, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.
We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.